Leading by example — Assembling a cast of stars

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There is no magic formula for building your dream team. But after talking with Jim Lee, administrator of Nineteenth Avenue Healthcare in San Francisco, we learned some tried-and-true tactics that every facility can employ — and you don't need to break the bank to do them, either.

It starts with hiring
We all know that due diligence pays off when recruiting and doing background checks on potential employees, but Lee also values nontraditional assessments.
One innovative example: He assembles a panel of residents and staff to meet with job candidates so both sides can determine whether the candidate would fit in with the culture of the facility. Lee describes hiring as "very much a two-way process."
Support also a two-way street
Lee takes a humble approach to management. One way he does this is by turning the organization chart upside down.
The top tier is the CNAs, dietary staff and housekeepers, who Lee says have "the most opportunity to make a difference in the quality of [the residents'] lives."
In turn, it is management's duty to ensure employees have the best training and support to do their jobs optimally. This happy symbiosis fosters loyalty. Nineteenth Avenue boasts one CNA who has been on the job for 37 years, and many more employees whose tenure ranges from 17 to 30 years.
Giving thanks
Social events are an excellent way to pay thanks to your staff. Not only does Nineteenth Avenue celebrate birthdays, company anniversaries and cultural holidays, but each monthly meeting concludes with a drawing for small cash prizes. Staffers who haven't called in sick that month are eligible to win. In addition to the drawing, he spends less than $100 each month to buy small gifts for all attendees.
The bottom line: Even small thank-you's can be powerful. n

Jill Gilbert is President and CEO of GilbertGuide.com, which helps seniors and caregivers. It does this by marrying unbiased ratings and reviews of facilities and assistive services with educational resources and easy-to-use tools.