The leadership qualities of every person in your care home, absolutely matters. You want key leadership attributes and skills, such as attitude, self-confidence and discipline, in all your people at all levels.
Bad people, at all levels in your care home, can have a big impact on your residents, colleagues and managers. I’m sure you’ve had to clean up the mess a person with a bad attitude has caused, like a safeguarding incident or falsely whistle blowing, because they didn’t like being performance managed.
Even your people who don’t supervise or manage others need to have the right attitude and discipline to get to work on time, to not take sick days because they’re feeling a bit stressed and to put your residents first and give them the care and attention they need.
If a carer doesn’t provide the care a client needs, the impact, on a vulnerable person, can be huge. As we see all too often in the press, this lack of care can be devastating for the client and relatives and for the reputation of the home and industry. Of course, when the problem becomes that big, you have to look at the quality of the management and above.
It’s all too easy to hire someone because on paper, they have the skills to do the job, only to find they do the bare minimum, are unreliable and upset their colleagues. Their leadership qualities to manage themselves are lacking and their values are either missing or wrong. Many sectors, like the care sector suffer a high turnover of staff.
People higher up the hierarchy, who manage others can inspire and bring out the best in those they manage or mentor or can cause good people to leave. Their leadership qualities matter so much. So, in addition to their experience and knowledge, make sure you also look at their leadership qualities at the interview stage.
Does the person possess the right attitude? Is she self-aware? Does he have the values needed for such an important position? How much does she value the position and the responsibilities that go with it? What does he think of the company’s purpose, vision and strategic direction?
It’s difficult to be sure at the interview stage but you have probation periods so during that time set goals and tasks that you know will test the person in those areas you have doubts about.
It’s important of course that you also know your current staff. Does she want those in her team to advance as far as they want to, and does she support their efforts, or does she feel threatened?
Does he consider himself expendable or vital to the success of your care home? Does she have an equally positive attitude to the different parts of her role? If she doesn’t or appears more focused on those areas she is more comfortable with, then this will create imbalance and those neglected areas will come back and cause you problems down the line.
Hiring just for a person’s ability to perform the tasks of the job alone, can lead to long-term problems. Be sure that they are there for the right reasons, have the attributes to do the job well without being watched over and value the work that they do.
Many care providers spend so much of their time sorting out staff members who are unreliable, create conflict, deliver poor care, complain, negatively influence others, are lazy, are disruptive and generally cause them grief. Pretty much all of this wasteful, draining effort would disappear if people came in with the right leadership qualities and were well supervised and mentored from day one.
As far as possible you want to promote from within. That way you eliminate so much of the unknown that new people bring. The advantages are obvious: you know them, they know you and your expectations, and they already have strong relationships with colleagues and residents. (A caveat to that is that sometimes a strong relationship with colleagues can create its own problems regarding favouritism or resentment.)
A new person may have their own way of doing things that could disrupt the flow of the business and upset your people, residents and relatives.
All too often, people are promoted simply because they’ve been with the company a number of years and hit the top of their pay band. The company doesn’t want to lose them and so promotes them without really checking that they have all the skills and attributes needed to do the job.
Over years, they continue to be promoted in this way. They eventually hold senior positions and, though they may not do anything that harms the company’s reputation, neither are they likely to do anything that does it much good either. They’re unlikely to innovate and differentiate or inspire and motivate. Good people lower down the chain could look at these people and be disillusioned enough to leave.
Large companies everywhere are filled with middle and senior managers who are in these positions simply because of the many years of service. They promote and hire those who are as mediocre as them and non-threatening to them. Year in and year out they “manage” their people and do just enough to keep their job.
If you want to successfully promote good people, you need to have a system that helps you hire, develop and retain the best people, who have the right leadership qualities and values to do the work and to motivate their teams and not become bottlenecks to the ambitions of those below them.
You need to have a system for spotting talent and nurturing that talent so that the transition to more responsibility is an exciting one and that they are ready when they move up to that position.
One such system is called The Leadership Pipeline.
The Leadership Pipeline
Each level of your organisation needs people with particular leadership qualities, starting from being able to manage themselves to being able to manage others.
In order to move from one level to the next, additional leadership skills and attributes are required and the person moving up needs to receive the right training and support to successfully make that transition.
Jane is a really good carer, who is reliable, caring, a good team player and all the things you want in your care home – you would hate to lose her. Then one day she hands her notice in or gives you the heads-up that she wants more responsibility. What do you do?
Do you panic and try and find a position for her, offer her more money and try to persuade her to give you some time? If you then find her a higher supervising or management position are you setting her up to fail because you haven’t prepared her for the transition?
I’ve seen this so many times in companies in many different sectors including care. I’ve seen people who were brilliant on the floor struggle to manage those they once stood beside or struggle with all the paperwork that goes with the new position.
Ram Charan, Steve Drotter and Jim Noel in their book, The Leadership Pipeline, have created a template model they call The Leadership Pipeline Model that you can adapt for your organisation.
The model focuses on the leadership qualities needed at each level of an organisation with the aim to, over time, be able to recruit from within and only hire outside of the company at the lowest level.
To create a pipeline of future leaders working up through the company, the model identifies what leadership qualities are needed at each level and how to successfully transition a person from one level to the next.
In their model, the authors have defined specific levels of leadership within the pipeline and qualities required at that level and provides this as a template and guide for you to adapt as needed. These levels align with the general levels of management you would find in most companies.
At the end of each level there is a transition element, which helps the person move from one level to the next. Hence the idea of a pipeline – bring in good people at the bottom of your organisation or the entrance to the pipeline and help them work up the levels or through the pipe freeing up space below them to be filled by those on lower levels or new people at the first level.
The authors have defined the levels as follows:
- Manage Self – These are individual contributors who are primarily hired for their technical or professional skill.
- Manage Others – Usually first-time supervisors and managers who need to plan and assign work, check work done, resolve issues, motivate and They usually also carry out the work themselves.
- Manage Managers – These are pure As well as ensuring work is carried out, they transition people to become a “Managers of Others”.
- Functional Managers – These people manage functions or departments such as Finance, Operations and HR.
- Business Managers – These run business units and work across all functions of the organisation. They create revenue-generating strategies and business plans and they are able to handle more freedom and
- Group Managers – They manage a group of business units and think at a higher level and in areas such as funding allocation, resources and deployment.
- Enterprise Manager – This is essentially the CEO who sets the destination, focuses the attention of everyone and steers the
You can rename and redefine these levels to suit your organisation and miss out levels such as ‘Business Manager’ if such a level doesn’t fit your organisation. You may decide to change ‘Group Manager’ to ‘Regional Manager’ if you have a number of care homes or miss out if you have one or two care homes.
What’s important is that you set up a framework and system like this that works for your business.
The transition from one level to the next is all important. The danger is that if a person is not fully prepared for the role, they can easily fall back into their comfort zones and back into doing what they were good at in their previous role.
The right training and mentoring is vital to the success of this system.
For example, when moving someone from ‘managing yourself’ to ‘managing others’, it’s common to see people struggle to guide and all too ready to take over and do the task that they used to do so well because ‘its quicker if I just do it.”
If you promote a care manager to a home manager role, you need to make sure that they don’t neglect other areas of the home such as hotel services and maintenance and simply focus on their comfort zone – care.
As well as attributes, identify the key skills needed at each level. A key indicator to see if a person is managing a new transition well is to see how they allocate their time. It can be a real challenge for a first-time ‘manager of others’ to step back and allocate enough of her time to looking after the team rather than to doing the tasks she used to really enjoy.
Time allocation can be a powerful indicator of how well a person is managing her role.
If you define the roles in your organisation and hire according to not just skills and attributes, but also values and time allocation, it’s more likely that you will hire people who could well be your future leaders and long-term valuable assets to your organisation.
Redefine the various roles in your organisation to include, attributes, values and time allocation, as-well-as skills. Define the leadership pipeline levels for your business and the required skills, attributes, values and time allocation.
This exercise alone will show you how well balanced your team is and where you have a deficiency or abundance of leaders. It will also highlight potential future leaders. Having defined the requirements for each level, detail the training and support required to transition from one level to the next. Check that these requirements are present when recruiting and inducting new people.
Of course, this only really works if you have a staff structure that people can progress up. If you have a flat structure, then you should review it. For example, if below Deputy Manager you have your carers then you are going to struggle to promote and keep good people.
We have Care Support, Carers, Lead Carers, Care Team Managers, Assistant Care Manager and Care Manager who reports into the Home Manager in our nursing homes. (We don’t have Deputy Managers).
As carers become more experienced, they move up to Lead Carers who mentor starters and who are higher in the pay band. Care Team Managers (CTMs) manage a small group of carers who then help specific residents with personal care, breakfast and so on and who completes the necessary paperwork to hand to the Care Manager or Assistant Care Manager.
Depending on the number of residents you have, and their care needs you will have a certain number of these small teams all being led by a CTM for the duration of a shift. Each team is made up of more and less experienced carers so that the new carers learn. The team can also comprise more than one CTM who take turns to be the CTM for that shift.
This CTM position is very important and has provided us with people who have gone on to become care managers, home manager and even nurses.
It is also a good filtering position to see if people can handle the responsibility. We have had those who turned out not to have the leadership qualities needed who either went back to being carers or who left. Those people didn’t leap to a higher management position and end up potentially causing more damage and their departure doesn’t hurt the care home because of the number of CTMs already in place and some Lead Carers ready to make the transition to CTM.
With the right structure and system you can build a far more effective and loyal team with all the benefits that brings – low staff turnover, reduced cost in training new employees, fewer staff personality issues and so on. And it is far more likely that you will be able to promote from within rather than hire in from outside, which can be a costly and risky endeavour.
This system can also significantly reduce the damage caused to a company. If working, as it should, it will eliminate any mismatch in the requirements of the role and the abilities of the person in that role, which can result in poor performance within the team, low morale and the loss of good people.
Poor managers can become bottlenecks hiring and developing future stars. Take this to the top level and a poor CEO (and there are plenty of them) can cause untold damage to a company’s finances, reputation and future survivability.
Your people are your best assets and the return for implementing a system like the Pipeline Model will be worth the investment in setting it up many times over.