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The Loony Way Some Senior Living Companies Are Letting Their Best Assets Go to Waste

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By Steve Moran

I confess I think this title is rather harsh, so I want to start by apologizing for it because for some of you this article is going to hit close to home. I stuck with the title because I really, really, really want you to read it, simply because it may be the single most important article Senior Housing Forum publishes all year.

The Story That Drives Me Crazy

I get crazy excited when I get a chance to talk to someone who is killing it in the marketplace. This mostly means one of two things that are very easy to measure:

  • Occupancy

  • Low employee turnover (as a good proxy for the quality of the culture)

My first question for them is always what are you doing that is different than the norm. Most of the time they can tell me. My second question is this:

How is your company tapping into what you are doing to help the rest of the organization?

I almost hate asking this question because every single time I have asked it, the answer has been the same, and that answer makes my head feel like it is going to explode!

Here is the answer:  NOTHING.

In most cases, these are organizations that are spending tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on outside consults in the areas of culture and leadership, and sales and marketing. I am sure they are all good programs, but honestly to have an asset like this and do nothing with it is loony for these 4 reasons:

  1. It is completely demoralizing to the expert because they know they could help make the organization better in a powerful way and the message they get back is “naw, we don’t really value you that much.”  

    I am sure management at least sometimes thinks they are just lucky being in the right building or the right market. I have seen this happen once or twice for short periods of time, but great markets never stay great because if it is that great you are going to get competition.

  1. It sends the message to lower performing employees that there is no big benefit for trying to knock it out of the park and so they don’t even try.

  1. High Performers leave for greener pastures. It is not that they want to move, but when you are a superstar and are treated like you are a bench player why would you want to stay? If you don’t mind me scaring you a little bit, in the last three months I have talked to some number of these superstars that are actively looking for a better gig, where their talents will be better appreciated.

  1. You can almost never replace a superstar with another superstar so in effect when one leaves you always trade down. This means your residents go from having a spectacular leader to an ordinary one and when they are used to spectacular ordinary looks terrible. The same is true for team members.

There are so many ways to tap into this essentially free resource and yet over and over again I see it totally wasted. It is bad for their organizations and it is bad for these people.  

If you are tapping into your superstars, I would love to hear your story and share it.

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