Finding Common Ground

Is your senior living community missing a key team-building tool?

Working in senior care is both hugely rewarding and immensely difficult. Most of us genuinely care about the residents we serve and find it deeply satisfying to provide them with excellent service. But, workloads are heavy, there are complex emotions to deal with nearly every day, and it is difficult to get everyone on the same team when each department has a unique, important focus. Studies say staff burnout is a significant, perhaps the biggest, challenge in delivering good care and achieving our organizational goals.

Teamwork-300In this industry especially, fostering teamwork, is critical to supporting positive outcomes for all concerned. Residents, employees, and the company, are better off when staff knows how to support each other and cooperate, and everyone is unified behind common goals.

Unfortunately, there is a key driving force receiving minimal attention in most communities: rallying around a uniting mission statement.

Before you groan, consider this old proverb: “Without vision, the people perish.” A clear, strong mission is a management tool to align employees in a desired direction. Unless you teach your company’s principles and intentions, employees have no choice but to act based on their own assumptions. Obviously, everyone will have different perspectives and values. While each person is following their own lead, teamwork is impossible. Lots of energy is put forth, but it is unfocused, and often, causing conflict.

A well-crafted mission statement, used consistently, can help employees internalize company values, drive desired behaviors, and unify staff around a common purpose. Applying mission and values with loving care eases the transition as we improve the performance and reputation of our senior care communities.

The most successful organizations invoke mission statements that speak to a relational commitment—think of marriage vows—that helps employees achieve their personal best under specific standards and guidance: for better or worse, in sickness and health, richer or poorer …

Start-in-Dining-Web-300During Kind Dining® classes, I observe that, given clear, resident-centered boundaries from the company mission, most employees respond with a familial sense of belonging, loyalty, dedication, and determination to succeed for the good of the group. Just like families who rally around the dinner table bond and laugh and share and learn, staff members commit to each other, the organization, and residents, once they embrace shared intentions and values.

What is the mission statement in your community? Does it reflect your organizational principles and aspirations, or is it just meaningless corporate-speak? Is it used to guide and unite all staff, or mostly ignored and forgotten? Make it a priority to create—or recreate—your mission statement and use it to build a healthy, successful community.

For more ways to improve dining in your senior living community, check out this month’s Kind Dining® Connection.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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