Turtle helps break the ice

In New Hampshire, I met Turtle.

She is a teenage girl, who sat at the front table during my Kind Dining seminar. I asked each person to pause and think of one thing they could do to improve their performance and make the experience for their residents better.

That’s when Turtle raised her hand.

“I know I’m slow at serving and with some skills and help I want to improve. They don’t call me ‘Turtle’ for nothing.”

The room fell silent. Eyes widened. Turtle’s co-workers seemed floored that she was aware of the same thing they all knew about her, and willing to admit it.

One of her co-workers spoke up next. “Some residents frustrate me so much I run into the kitchen and freak out!”

That was a Eureka moment! My workbook addresses the icebergs that are part of every work environment — those hidden emotions that lurk under the surface in all of us. To witness these two particular icebergs rise out of the water and begin to thaw was one of the most gratifying experiences of my entire trip to New Hampshire.

It’s those small admissions, and the beginning of communication, that can make a difference in dining service and bring higher quality care to residents. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

Thank you, Turtle.

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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