When you work in the skilled nursing industry, you see all kinds of management styles. From the good, the bad, to the downright ugly, finding a style that maintains organization, efficiency, compliance, and creates a friendly, professional environment is a constant need. This isn’t about dropping a dozen doughnuts on the front desk and high-fiving an aide as you hide in your office until lunchtime, this is about creating an engaging, productive, and supportive work environment through solid processes and by example. When you find a style that enhances the performance of those around you, something tells me you’re into something good. If you want to rock it as an administrator, here are five ways to be sure you are on the road to success.
- Remember that care comes first.
All day–every day. Your top priority is your residents, first. Then, your staff. And it should go in that order. Remember, this isn’t just a resident, this is somebody’s mom or dad, grandma, sister, former school teacher, uncle, former fishing buddy, neighbor–these people are loved. And when the need for long-term care arises, the top concern for families is that their family member will be loved and cared for. Being accessible to address family concerns and empowering staff to handle questions when they arise is an important step in ensuring residents’ care is backed by a qualified and cohesive staff.
- Be emotionally intelligent.
You don’t have to minor in mindreading to be emotionally intelligent, but having an intuitive sense of what makes people happy or satisfied is a great skill to bring to the job. “A successful nursing home administrator or executive director can sense what others need in order to grow, develop and master their strengths,” Jennifer Stone said. A great way to master this is to welcome open communication among staff. How do they like their job? What would they like to see improved? Where do they see themselves this time next year or five years from now? Knowing the thoughts of your staff and offering support for those goals creates a positive work environment and ensures you are placing staff in positions where they can most contribute and excel.
- Build a positive work culture by example.
Do you want to capture someone’s attention? Toss up the term “work culture” as a topic. Re-aligning work processes to be more engaging for employees is a big issue in businesses at the moment. “No doubt about it, the tone of the workplace is set by the leaders,” Zewditu Joens, director of nursing services for Park Manor Rehabilitation Center. “If you want to establish a positive environment that encourages teamwork, respect, quality service, and a friendly
atmosphere, it has to start with a working example at the top.” And in an environment as unpredictable and emotional as a skilled-nursing facility, creating a supportive work environment based on teamwork, cooperation, and respect is essential.
- Get out of your office.
When the budgeting, financial, and managing duties are done, make a point to step outside the office and meet the residents, help the staff, and talk with the visiting families. For example,
a local director of a long-term care facility spends an hour every afternoon in the courtyard watering the victory garden and visiting with residents. Now, the residents look forward to this time of day and help with the garden duties. “Granted, there are many responsibilities, conference calls, reports, phone calls, and emails that tie you to an office, but the successful administrator makes time to get out,” said the staff at Nursing Home Pro. Otherwise, how do you really know what’s going on out there.” Finding a balance between administrative and the emotional, caring side of your job will not only increase efficiency, but you will also find your job satisfying.
- Set realistic expectations.
If you were ever fortunate enough to watch a sports interview with Brigham Young University’s Former Hall of Fame football coach Lavell Edwards, you know you were in for a treat. During pre-game interviews, Edwards would rave about the abilities of the opposing team and downplay the skills of his own team. Then the main question in the post-game interviews would be reporters wanting to know how Edwards destroyed the opposing team, and Edwards would downplay some more. But, I digress. The point is, Edwards had mastered the art of underselling and overdelivering. And it’s a skill that helps administrators navigate potentially tricky situations in the facility. Phrases like “It will never happen again” is a prelude for problems. Because in this environment, a resident IS going to try to wander off–again, and a family MAY find their loved one (who is incontinent and wets ten times a day) wet. For example, when a family member is upset, a savvy administrator will be receptive to the family’s concerns and sincere in apologizing for what happened. An open discussion about their loved one’s challenges and the pathways used by your staff to accommodate them assures the family that you are aware of the circumstances. You are not going to promise the moon, but you are going to offer assurance that we can’t guarantee it won’t happen again, but the family can be sure the staff will take care of it promptly with dazzling service. Then, a private meeting with the staff can evaluate the situation and help design solutions for improved care processes.
There are many great administrators in this industry. But if you want to be a rockin’ administrator, these five signs may be a good indicator of the direction you are taking your management style. By keeping priorities aligned, communication open, letting positive pathways be your guide, and setting realistic and attainable goals for you and your staff, you will be on your way to awesome.