Staffing issues are the new pandemic. Every industry is desperate for good people to fill the gaps. I see it in my small beach town. Roofers, landscapers, restaurants… all short staffed as we gear up for the high season, with locals looking to do home projects and vacationers flocking here for the summer months.
Welcome to the pity party, folks! Over here in senior living, we have been in staffing hell for, well, forever. I recall my days as an administrator, clutching my white scheduling binder (which was the staffing technology of the 90s), heels clicking down the hall, looking for anyone to help me out and cover a shift.
People would actually run and hide from me. I started to get a complex about it but decided this pity party was no fun and it was time to do something about it.
I thought of all the ways I was in control of my staffing crisis. What were the areas I could make changes that could have a positive impact on how I recruited and retained good people?
Since my white binder days, I have conducted focus groups with thousands of team members, nation-wide, and the feedback is pretty consistent.
People want to be heard. People want to be noticed. People want to be appreciated.
And in a time where good team members are hard to find, hard to keep, and just plain exhausted if you have them, it’s more important than ever that you take really good care of them while you have the chance.
Sadly, as leaders, we spend a lot of our time focused on fixing others’ shortcomings: annual evaluations, coaching sessions, disciplinary actions, and simply walking around our organizations with a critical eye. The focus tends to be on what an individual needs to do better, and rarely on what they can do well.
Something I find so exciting is that most people possess a skill or an ability with which they are gifted that they don’t even know they have! No matter how old, or how seasoned, or how educated a person is, all of us possess incredible hidden talents. But the caveat is, it’s hard for people to recognize their own unique gifts and it often takes a special someone else to notice it, point it out, and encourage them to make use of it.
Think about your own leadership journey. Along the way, there was probably at least one person who recognized something special in you.
They believed in you.
Perhaps it was a teacher who believed you could do it, a mentor who challenged you, or a supervisor who gave you an opportunity to succeed. They not only supported you, they pushed you to be better.
Chances are, some of the people on your team have yet to encounter someone to push them to be better; to be their best.
Be that person.
Recognize an individual’s strength, point it out, and nurture it. Tell them and show them that you believe in them. Become that person they will reflect on in years to come as being critical to their success and do so by focusing more on strengths, less on areas for development.
- Identify strengths: Help a member of your team recognize their strengths, the things they enjoy doing and that come naturally.
- Put the strengths to use: Most people have strengths that don’t get used at work or at home. What a waste! Balance the work in teams based on each individual’s strengths.
- Strengthen the strength: Research shows that our greatest opportunity for growth actually comes from developing our strengths, not from focusing on our shortcomings. Work to expand team members’ strengths. Work around the weaknesses.
One of the best gifts we can give someone is the encouragement to recognize their own gifts. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell said, “Believe the best in others, and you will bring out their best.” This gift is so timely in our here and now. Not only is there a shortage of team members who want to work, the ones we have are exhausted. Taking the time to build them up and help them to see they have so much more to give is critical for their retention. And as we know, people who love their jobs are more likely to recruit their family and friends to join them, making this the gift that truly gives to all involved.