Aspire for More with Erin

How to Keep Your Team Inspired a conversation with Jill Valdez

February 08, 2024 Erin Thompson
Aspire for More with Erin
How to Keep Your Team Inspired a conversation with Jill Valdez
Show Notes Transcript

Connect with me on LinkedIn


Follow me on Facebook where I educate, equip and empower family members how to proactively care for their elderly loved ones.

Follow me on Instagram where I educate, equip and empower family members how to proactively care for their elderly loved ones.

Join my email list where I will lift you up, and send tactile advice weekly to support you to grow your experience in your senior living career.


Erin:

Hi, it's Erin again at the Aspire for More with Erin podcast. And today I am excited to welcome Jill Valdez. She is the founder, CEO, owner, the woman behind Link Consulting. so thank you for being here today, Jill. It's great to be here. Yes. So yes, I do. We have only met virtually and through LinkedIn content, which I think is really fun. the connections that LinkedIn brings and I are very similar and our businesses are very similar and we are, I think like a country apart. You are in the Northwest and I am in the deep South. So that is different as different can be. And yet the same as same can be right.

Jill:

Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Tell us

Erin:

a little bit about you. Tell us about you.

Jill:

Yeah. so I, gosh, my story starts with that. I was a pastor for 17 years and in that world and in that space I did, I was the executive pastor. So like an executive director, I've managed all the operations, but I also was, the one that when somebody was in the hospital, there was a car accident, somebody was sick. Somebody died. Somebody was dying. They would call me and I would go in and I would be a part of that and be with them. I left full time ministry and that's where I got my start in senior care. I called a friend of mine and, I said, Hey, are you ever looking for caregivers? Like I just, I was looking for whatever. I didn't even know what I was going to do. And she was like, she's are you kidding me? She actually didn't say kidding, I want to be aware of. And I said, no, I. I want to come and work with you. And so that's how I got started in senior care. I started as a caregiver in a memory care unit. Oh my gosh, that was the best. I quickly moved up to being a med tech. And then I went on to actually manage a assisted living, a small assisted living facility for a little bit. and so fast forward to where I'm at now. Still stay continued in senior care, most recently working in the hospice industry in a couple of different roles and. One of my passions, one of the things that I have loved to be able to do is to support executive directors. and I've been working with small businesses since 2018, but in the last few months, I've focused executive directors care, emotional, physical, um, spiritual, all of that. It's all at the responsibility of those executive directors here, particularly, they are afraid that their employees are going to quit if they're holding them to a higher standard of care. And because of that, they're operating in fear and they're not. Able to get the best from their care staff, and that's compromising the care that's being provided. and it is leaving executive directors frustrated and fearful and then also not knowing what to do, because most of them started out as caregivers. And similar to my experience, it was like caregiver, med tech, and then moving on because they have this heart of care. All they want is to lead a committed team that's providing stellar care, but they're just not able to do that. And so I'm, I've shifted my focus and I'm working as a guide to help these executive directors in their leadership development in activating their staff. Reducing turnover, improving workplace culture, team morale, that environment. So that's what I'm doing.

Erin:

Yeah, that's a great story. There's so much to dive into there. I, I feel as if there are a few industries that can really understand the pain points inside senior living and healthcare and to me teaching. And working inside the school system is one of them. And then ministry is the other, the constant pull on your emotions, potentially 24 hours a day, seven days a week, always having to encounter someone's worst day is hard and having to manage those emotions around that. how did you. How did you deal with some of those really hard things that you had to work through? And then how does that correlate into how you brought that into senior living?

Jill:

it's been a part of my life. My mom was a type one diabetic and 60 years ago, they didn't know anything. She was in the hospital all the time. And so I was very comfortable with the healthcare setting. and. And I was very comfortable with health crisis. it didn't freak me out. Blood freaks me out, but other crises don't freak me out. and so I think that it created an opportunity to already be a caregiver. there were many times where my mom was sick and so I would help out. I had a younger sister and that just carried over into ministry. Ministry that call came because there were people who invested in me in my younger years, and I wanted to give back to them and I wanted to give back in that same way. I wanted to be a guide to people who find themselves stuck and not sure about what the next steps are. and so then that ministry and leading people in their darkest days and also in their best days, baby's born, we're going to have a party, but that mindset just has continued with me in what I do, because I love helping people who want to be giving the very best of who they are.

Erin:

Yeah, that's, yes, people who want to give the best and who are willing to put in the work to understand, A, what the best is, B, do I want to work that hard to get it,

Jill:

And that is the challenge.

Erin:

yeah, absolutely it is. It is the challenge. I, there's a lot, there's a lot of disconnect. I think sometimes when we talk about the senior living industry, because in one aspect, there's a lot of people who consider it to be a real estate industry. And then on the other aspect, there's a lot of people who consider it to be a people industry. And so I have seen these. Pictures on LinkedIn, the KPIs, your key performing indicators, but I do believe that KPI, which is keep people informed and keep people inspired, are two of the points, are two KPIs that are hard to quantify, but if you can't do those two things, you cannot keep up with the metrics and the KPIs that the real estate side of this industry wants. And down in the south, I'll answer to my general area and then you can answer to your general area. I think a lot of people just expect people to understand what to do. And the, yes, the emotional, wherewithal to handle certain things and do not expect How difficult it is to be able to keep people informed and keep people inspired, and if we can teach these people, you know, and that, that comes, you have a great background to use because of your ministry. You're right. Keeping people informed, keeping people inspired is that is what ministry is, right? Yes. But. Inside Senior Living, we just automatically assume that if somebody's been a leader before, they can step into a community and just assume leadership position and change everything. And a caregiver will understand what to do, and the culinary person will understand what to do, and that is just not the case. And I don't think enough people tell leaders inside of a community. It's our job. Number one job to keep people informed and keep people inspired because it's too hard if people are not inspired. If I hear like the phrase, no one wants to work anymore or they don't. they just choose to do the wrong things. There are people who do choose to do the wrong things, but are we setting them up to succeed and are we inspiring them about the difference that they make in other people's lives and the value that they bring to our team? And I think that's the piece that we're missing from leadership manuals and new leadership trainings. Um, inside of our industry, that's what I hear take the floor for the Northwest because I'm dying to know

Jill:

100%. Yes. The challenge is this, Aaron, is that most of your executive directors started out as a caregiver. And the assumption by owners and operators is, oh my gosh, they're going to be so great at caring for a team because they were great caregivers. That is a totally different skillset. you have to teach them how to care for people.'cause caring for staff is way different than caring for people, for residents, and sometimes caring for residents is a heck of a lot easier than caring for staff. the assumption there sets up these executive directors for failure. and. all they want is just to, they come into work, they know what good care looks like, but nobody's teaching them how to activate their staff. Nobody's teaching them how to bring out the best in their staff and their, to your point about, that there are some who approach this with more of a real estate or a hotel kind of mindset. What I typically have seen with that is the idea of, if we have to fire caregiver, if a caregiver quits, that's fine. We can just turn and burn through people because that's an easy slot to fill. And there's no expectation that caregivers are actually going to stay. They don't even, it seems like sometimes that there's not even marketing that is for caregivers. Talking about the heart that is involved and required for somebody who's coming into this industry, you cannot be hiring somebody who's just going to think, oh, I'm here to babysit grandma and grandpa, because that's not happening, that's not the job. The job is so much more. And so you need somebody who comes in with an understanding that this is so much more.

Erin:

Yeah. It's so much more. And if you want to know value and worth, or if you want to have value and worth in your role, being a caregiver is a very valuable position. But if your manager is not treating it as such. It can feel not valuable. It can, so as we, as leaders, are we setting our families up to see our caregivers or to watch them because it's two completely different things, and then as a leader myself. just like when I think of those two words and, my resentments were really high when I felt watched versus seen, and so can I assume everybody feels that way too, because who wants to be watched? So when you look at people, keeping people informed and keeping people inspired. You can look at it through the framework of literally being seen and being watched. And am I telling people, as a leader, as an executive director, as a director of nursing, as a culinary director, how valuable they are in their role?

Jill:

Yeah. How we keep people inspired and how we keep them informed is by Communication, and it's talking and it's about telling stories and it's about having investing time with the people to say, oh, you know what I was talking to the daughter of. Room 410. And they were telling me about something that you did. That was so amazing. Can I share that with other people? and that's how we keep them inspired. You talked about the assumption that everybody knows why they're there. It's crazy to me. I understand it. I don't fault anybody for, we're here to care for residents. Yes. But what makes us different? What sets us apart as a facility? And then how are we going to inspire our people? To be their best. I, when I was an executive director of a, food distribution organization, again, it was all volunteer based, there was no paid staff. If they didn't show up, I was in trouble because then I was. Doling out anywhere from 8, 000 to 22, 000 pounds of food to 350 families and so they would come and we would meet before we open the doors and I would remind them of why we're doing what we're doing and telling them the stories of the people's lives that we've impacted. That's what we as leaders should be doing in senior care. Don't expect that everybody knows. Yes, there is lots of gossip for lack of a better word that happens in assisted living world, but we need to be telling those good stories. We need to be talking as we're walking around and as we're spending time, whether it's talking to our manager so that they go out and talk to the care staff. But that's how we keep them motivated. That's how we activate their heart is we tell them the stories of the why of what we're doing and this is what it looks like. And when they see that then all of a sudden they're like, I can do that. Like I can be that person. Or maybe I can't be that person, but maybe somebody can help me be that person, and so we're just, that's how we activate people to be their best is telling them stories, giving them a vision of what we're expecting and what we believe

Erin:

that they can become. Yeah, and. How they're impacting people's lives in the moment, like we were very, we are very quick to tell people what they're doing wrong, just as humans. Like judgments and assumptions, that's quick. But when we tell people what they're doing, right, that's a, that's another way. That's another level of. information and inspiration that is given to them and I have seen in my own career and in all of my, ebbs and flows of getting it right and getting it wrong that when I made an intentional effort to call out publicly and individually, the small things that people are doing, then. You are telling people the right way to do it, like you and I were talking earlier, like the manual, right here is the manual when you do X, Y, Z, as well, as we just did, we're going to get more people in and therefore we're going to have more work and we're going to have more lives to change, we were referencing the manual earlier in the sense of how do we, Teach people how to treat us and how to treat each other, which to me, treating each other was a huge burden because sometimes people are nice to each other and sometimes they aren't, and you don't always see that. It's not always so glaringly obvious as to what the inner dynamics, the interrelational dynamics between hourly associates and even key managers. So that the idea of the manual. Of let me tell you how I would like to be treated and how I would like to treat you and let me tell you what my expectations are and how to treat each other because equally all three of us are valuable here and we need to treat each other as such. that's a lesson that I am continually learning and, through the trial and error. Realize I didn't do as good if it was someone coming to me, I was really good at making sure people treated each other very well, or walking through that. But I allowed people to. Be themselves with me in a way that probably was a little bit disrespectful that I should have said, Nope, that's not how we're going to talk. That's not how we're going to do it. I could have drawn some lines there a little bit. I took a little bit more than I should have. So I saw a post that you made earlier and I thought, that's a good topic to discuss. So we get what we tolerate. And then we cannot be so frustrated when people aren't changing because we are not changing. So let's dive into that a little bit. Give me some advice, some advice on that manual. So

Jill:

here's the thing is we think about where we're at as the atmosphere and what is in the atmosphere determines. What's going to grow and what's going to die. So what we tolerate, what we put up with, what we allow and invite in is going to determine how other people are in our environment. So if we don't tolerate, people talking bad or disrespectfully to us, then. Eventually that will die out, whether that be ignoring it, whether that be correcting it, but whatever's in the atmosphere determines what lives or dies. And so if we have good things in the atmosphere, like you were talking about earlier, when we celebrate the good work that somebody's doing, when we. Ourselves are working on bringing up the best in ourselves and then working on doing that in others, then that is what's out there. And that is what grows and what will continue to thrive. And people see that and they pick up on it. it's a lot, people talk about it now, and they define it as culture, the culture determines. What is going to actually happen and what isn't there's this saying that says culture eats vision for lunch, so it doesn't matter like how great your vision is of being this five star facility and being known as the best in the community. If you have crap culture, you're never going to get there. it's just not going to happen. So for somebody who's looking to have. in their workplace and with their team, an environment of supporting each other, an environment of communication, of trust, of cohesion, then they model it and they correct when they see that it's not happening. and then you and I were talking about this a little bit earlier. The other piece of it is finding out why. What is it about the person, because we all come in to work with a story, we all have a background. We all have a story. So we're coming in with that. And then we all have a life. And so what is it that maybe is going on that is keeping you from being. That person that we want you to be when you're here at work and so asking those questions, it don't tolerate things that you don't want to continue to thrive in the culture and to that are countercultural and find out why that person's behaving that way, because then you find out, is this person just not a right fit for our company, or is this just a temporary thing that's going on with them that they either need to be coached through or encouraged through

Erin:

or Yeah, a lot of people, and based on my experience and even my own personal experience and working with the amount of managers that I've worked with over the last 20 years, we tend to take things personally and 95 percent of the stuff that happens is not personal. It just is a trigger reaction and when. You can understand that and I think that kind of leads into why I allowed people to talk certain ways because I knew that I got to a point where it wasn't about me, but then I was not at the point where I didn't let a lot of it seep in like over time, you can't do that. And then if I had a manager who was really upset about something that happened. I would have to say it's not about you. It's about something else, but I think that's something that managers, if we can figure that out, it's not about me, we don't have to take that personally. We can certainly say, we're not going to talk. We're not going to have another incident like that again. Yeah, but. It's, we don't house things privately and internally whenever we could do nothing to control that, Yeah. And irrational responses are trigger warnings are trigger responses to something much bigger than the moment. Yeah.

Jill:

Yeah. We just happen to be the conduit. Whether it was a word that we said, a tone that we used, or a situation we just happened to be the person that made them have that reaction. and that's where I think when managers and leaders have a good relationship with their staff and know their staff really know them, then they have that foundation to be able to go and have a follow up conversation. I had a situation once where, I was the interim executive director and I made a mistake. I take full ownership. There was a miscommunication and I should have communicated the information that I had. the person that I was talking to blew up at me, and I walked away from there and I said, I'm really sorry. Because that's all I could do and I took responsibility, but then I went back and said, what's going on? that's not normally how to behave on a more professional level. There's obviously something else going on. and so got to have a conversation a bit more about what was happening that caused them. Did I make a mistake? Absolutely. Do I need to take ownership? 100%. But because I knew this person and because I was able to have that relationship with them, I was able to then go back to them and they didn't have to feel like, Oh, I've got to put up airs. I've got to, they could be honest with me because they know that I have their best interests at heart.

Erin:

Yeah, that's important. That's important. it's important to know your triggers too. I was in a conversation the other day with somebody and we were talking about mentoring new leaders, emerging leaders inside the industry. And it was just like, people leave the industry specifically senior living because they don't understand. It's a landmine full of triggers. Emotional triggers, just, and we don't equip people enough, we give them the basic training, CPR and basic first aid and all the things, but we don't equip them for the emotional intelligence that it's required, to understand. What all it entails and I think that's certainly something that aspire for more with Aaron and link consulting does that potentially not every company does, and we don't want to lose people because. They don't know how to navigate it because they do get so burned out and it's just enough they can't do it anymore. I ran into that wall and I've, I've taken a long time to really understand what led me there and all those things and how. There could have been something else for leaders, something else, like a support group, like there are just things that can be done to alleviate some of the pressures that we feel inside of a community. that's why

Jill:

I think that people like you and I are so important to these leaders because. And not to anybody's fault, they can't necessarily go to their regional support team because their regional support team is supporting multiple facilities and doesn't always have the time to be to go into deep stuff sometimes. And so for people like you and I to be that support and to be that guide for them and to walk through that. I actually do a lunch and learn for leaders on Thursdays. It's a free zoom session. And that's exactly what it's for is let's talk about leadership issues. Let's be a support for what you might be going through personal or personally as a leader. specifically within your organization, but you're a hundred percent right in that. senior care. I remember the first time that I had a resident pass, I broke my heart. I've been caring for this guy and he passed and it was, okay. He was 92 years old. I don't care. It still hurts. Yeah. and so how are we setting our people up to know that there is going to be. Life situations that are going to, to tug on our hearts, good or bad, we all have great stories of those residents that made us smile and made us laugh and made an impact. Yeah. Being set up as leaders on how to help ourselves and how to help our people navigate through that. That's why, what you do is so important.

Erin:

Yeah. What we both do, help. I have found there is more support on LinkedIn with things that I needed the support on that I never got inside of a community that there is on LinkedIn. And I was never on LinkedIn when I was inside of a community. And so when I go and I speak at. State association meetings or wherever I tell everybody get on linked in and follow people because it is a perspective that I wish I would have had while I was inside the community. I wouldn't be. Who I am today on LinkedIn, but I certainly would have been a quiet stalker. Oh, okay. You know what I mean? trying Oh, I feel that same exact way. And, Oh, I'm doing this all wrong. those kinds of things. So please, if you're not on LinkedIn, get on LinkedIn. Cause it's really important. It's really important. So you have a framework for Link Consulting and I have a framework for Aspire for More with Erin and shockingly enough, they kind of coincide. So talk about yours. And we'll see where ours intersects.

Jill:

I believe that there's four pillars that any organization needs to have established in order to be healthy and successful. And that is communication, cohesion, clarity, and consistency. When you have those four things in place, Then you have an organization that is able to

Erin:

move forward. Yeah. People don't give Clarity, enough credit. And I think in our industry, I hear some people that I follow a lot on, Instagram and say like soft skills get such a bad rap. without the soft skills, there are no hard successes. There, and so there's another quote that I like from this master class commercial where, and I don't know his name, but obviously he's somebody very famous. And he says, your vision and strategy is only good as you communicate it. And so you can have all kinds of plans, but if your team doesn't have clarity, there is no vision being accomplished, Yeah.

Jill:

Even, let's just take senior care. Okay. So the assumption is that we're about providing care for the residents in our facility, but that looks different. And if there's not clarity on. What we're doing, whether it be uniquely as a facility, like there's this facility, they are known for being a great place. If you're needing assisted living, but also still want a lot of activity options, everybody can have their niche and. That clarity, it, I don't know why people just assume that anybody who comes in knows, Oh, we're about senior care. this is what it is. if I'm 18 years old, I don't know what that means. Senior care for me is sitting and playing cards

Erin:

with grandpa. What do you mean

Jill:

I gotta help him to the bathroom? Where did that come into the equation? So clarity, being able to speak very clearly and not assuming that everybody knows.

Erin:

That's right. It's true. It's 100 percent true. And I think it's a huge Power boost to your marketing program. When you can say, you have that one sentence, that one liner, we are such and such community. And here we blank, like that, the clarity of who you attract, it goes back to that energy kind of statement. what's in the atmosphere is what will grow. If The transformations that you give your residents and you can speak to that and you start attracting the people who want that. Now, all of a sudden, you got a community that's fully synergized and that happens. It really does. And it's because you're real clear on what you do for residents. not every stay is, a garden full of blooms with the unicorns flying over the rainbows. but it is, it can be pretty powerful and pretty magical. And if you don't give words to that, then you're not attracting more people who want that. Yeah, you don't have to have a swimming pool in order to be successful, right? like we're told to think that we need all these high end luxury things But really when it comes down to it people just want to be loved seen heard Confident that they will be taken care of. Yeah, because if you have the swimming pool and you have the fancy, whatever And you don't give good communication care and all that, none of that matters. They're moving out to the next community that is. yep. Yeah. Yeah. So my framework is belief. Like I have to, or you can say conviction, right? Like I, we got to believe that we're the best and that, and then you gotta, you, then you have to clarify that. So I like belief, clarity, leadership, connection, which gives you the confidence and then you have the courage and then you have a lot of consistency in that. that's the roadmap, which is, yeah. Very much what you say, if you don't have clarity, you're not going to have connection with your team and you're not going to have confidence. And then if you're not consistently working on that, then you find yourself in loopholes and. A heap of mess.

Jill:

And it's just a cycle. Yes. And the, the definition of insanity, doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Erin:

Stop it. If you're still enough and you can have pattern recognition. In your community, when you haven't been communicating enough or when you need to step in and have a state of the union address or something like, you really know when to do that. If you. Are in tune and you have that connection with your team and your residents and their families. that's really important. It's really important. Is there anything else that you want to leave us with in all of your wise wisdom and guidance?

Jill:

No, I think we talked about quite a

Erin:

lot. I think that there's. There's a movement, I think, in the country, but I hope that people like us are sparking movements inside the industry that you can reach out on your own and get the support that you want and need. There are people out there who want to give it to you. Yeah.

Jill:

And that might be where it starts. I think that there's going to be a lot of this being a grassroots movement of leaders and executive directors saying enough is enough. I do know that there are some amazing owners and operators. I've had some fantastic conversations and they really do care about, although, they're coming with a real estate background, they understand what they're doing. And they understand that this is about life care and people care. and so they are doing good things, but if you're a leader and you're finding yourself frustrated and ill equipped and close to burnout, reach out to somebody who can help you because. We will

Erin:

100 percent I learned the way we think about everything is actually what leads us to the burnout. If we're not careful, the meeting, the emotion, the stories that we tell ourselves about every interaction. And if we're not careful on how to control that story, you just get exhausted. Of fighting that internal battle and that's no one's fault, except for our own, right? Like the civil war is exhausting if, you can find somebody that can help you understand man, listen here. What you're thinking is crazy. You, that is not true, but let's get it out so we can, better understand it. yeah. That's the secret sauce, that just yes, you do not have to do it alone. No. Yeah. what's your line? You, no

Jill:

one should be held back by obstacles that they can overcome.

Erin:

Yes. And I will say you can overcome your own thought process and your own internal dialogue. absolutely.

Jill:

You can.

Erin:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Just a little guidance will get you where you need to be. So yes. Yeah. Thank you. Jill. Tell us how to get in touch with you. Yeah,

Jill:

for sure. People can find me on LinkedIn. and then if you go to link consulting. info, you can find out more about what I'm doing, how I can support you, and then also be able to get in touch and get that call scheduled so we can get started.

Erin:

Thank you for your time and your service to this industry. It is a calling for sure. And, there's a lot that needs to be done to prepare for that silver tsunami. That's coming our way. Oh my

Jill:

gosh. Yes.

Erin:

Thanks, Erin. You're welcome. And as always aspire for more for you.