Good leaders are hard to find but can make or break employee morale, culture and team dynamics at your organization. In fact, it's estimated that only 10% of working people possess the talent needed to be a great manager. And when you learn that 50% of employees have left a job because of their manager, putting the right leaders in place becomes all the more critical -- especially given senior care's growing challenges around employee engagement and retention.
I recently attended an industry event and learned more about how to develop future leaders in senior care. The session, “Leading the Way to a Culture of Excellence,” featured Mary Murphy (Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton) and Rebecca Collins (Innovative Care Solutions/Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton) and focused on what employees face today, best practices to cultivate future leaders and pillars of success to help employees excel.
6 Best Practices To Cultivate Future Leaders In Senior Care
As your organization works to develop the workforce of the future, here are six areas to hone in on to foster a culture of leaders that boost employee engagement.
1. Meaningful Work – One study with Harvard Business Review found that 9 out of 10 employees are willing to earn less money to do more meaningful work. Fortunately, jobs in the senior care industry fit that bill and many cite caring for residents and working with families as extremely fulfilling. Make sure your mission is clearly defined and that the employees can connect to that mission. Another study found that Millennials want to work for companies with a social purpose. Employees feeling that the work they are doing has meaning is the first step towards creating inspiring, passionate leaders.
2. The Ability To Move Up – Employees want the opportunity to grow in their careers. They want to know that if they continue to go above and beyond daily expectations, they will have a chance to move to the next level. When we think of growth, there are four areas to focus on: financial, professional, career and personal. Employees want the ability to earn more money, improve their professional skillset, increase responsibilities and, of course, grow personally along the way.
3. Mentorship – Mentors take on a very important role when it comes to training future leaders in senior care. For starters, they impart their knowledge, wisdom and perspective upon future leaders, giving them the advice needed to handle challenging situations while also advancing their careers. And the impact of mentors is huge. Mentors can help improve retention, create stronger employee engagement and teach invaluable lessons required to move into management roles.
4. Managers That Listen To & Support Their Ideas – Every employee wants to be heard and supported by their managers and Gallup says it well: “Good leaders listen before they act.” Employees want to know that their managers are supportive of their ideas, projects and work. As senior care organizations are looking for and training their next group of leaders, they should look for those that have excellent listening skills. Pulse surveys are an easy way to gather input from employees and show them you are listening to what they have to say. Providers that use pulse surveys have reported excellent results like an increase in staff satisfaction and numerous process improvements, and staff feeling valued for their contributions.
5. Professional Development Opportunities – Managers should support their employees’ career advancement by taking a personal interest in their employees and focusing on teaching. This can include courses, workshops or other opportunities to grow the skillsets required to move into management or other areas of the business. Even those that don't wish to move into management roles can benefit from educational sessions and other learning opportunities.
6. A Sense Of Purpose In Day-To-Day Tasks – This one is similar to the first strategy, but is about connecting purpose and mission to daily tasks – simple ones like restocking the supply closet before the next shift. One community uses what they call “Mission Moments.” They hold brief morning stand-ups where they start each day discussing a real-life scenario that matches a section of their mission. It helps get staff to buy into their mission and starts each shift on a positive note. For example, they might cover that restocking supplies for the next shift ensures that caregivers have what they need to provide quality care to residents.
Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton uses a unique development program to develop staff, inspire interpersonal collaboration and increase workforce engagement. The Individual Mission Achievement Plan (IMAP) takes professionals from across the organization -- including clinical, administrative, direct care, housekeeping, dietary services -- and lets them shadow other areas of the company. These individuals learn the inner workings of other departments and discover other job roles that might be of interest.
This opportunity allows the individuals to assess their next move within the organization as they continue to develop professionally. Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton says the program has increased employee satisfaction and retention, as well as patient satisfaction scores.
Start Setting The Stage For Future Leaders Today
As you develop the next class of leaders in senior care, these best practices will help you attract and retain your workforce and build a pipeline of leadership candidates. It’s not always easy to think about succession planning, but doing so will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to ensuring employees are satisfied, residents receive top-notch resident care, and managers and employees form strong relationships.