Hopefully, by now, you have set your strategic goals for the year ahead, determined the destination, and have a clear picture of what success looks like for your home care agency in 2021. If you are still working on setting your strategic goals for the year, see our previous article for some “How to tips”.
The next step requires one of the most vital leadership skills, and that is to set your home care team up for success.
A home care agency is only as successful as its team. As a leader, your job is to manage and guide your team, so they are motivated, empowered, and productive in their roles. Teams that work well together produce results that far exceed the sum of their parts.
For your home care agency to reach the goals you have set, you need to ensure your caregivers and staff have the skills, knowledge, resources, tools and motivation needed to reach their full potential and help your business reach its destination.
Setting your team up for success doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a continued effort and is an ever-evolving process – especially during the COVID-19 crisis where more staff members are working remotely, reducing in-person contact.
We’ve compiled a list of 8 smart moves you can employ to guarantee your home care team is at the top of its game and set up for success in the year ahead.
1. Define and communicate purpose, goals and expectations
While there is a wide range of factors that can contribute to a team’s failure to deliver the desired results, one of the most common is a lack of clarity – in purpose, goals, expectations and responsibilities.
All teams need clarity and structure to understand what they are working towards and why.
You can strengthen and unify your home care team by frequently facilitating conversations that help them understand the details, ensuring everyone is on the same page and moving toward the same objectives.
When talking with your team, whether in person or online, make sure you keep them up-to-date about your plans, including:
- Mission and purpose
- Specific goals
- Desired outcomes (and deadlines, where applicable)
Don’t forget to collaborate with your team on these areas too, as they will bring unique perspectives to help make your overall plan more complete. Engaging your home care team in this way is proven to result in greater buy-in, motivation and commitment.
2. Know what motivates your team
Smart leaders take time to build mutually respectful relationships with their team members and to understand their needs – individually and collectively.
When setting your home care team up for success, one of the most important needs to understand is what drives and motivates them. You can use this information to align caregiver work assignments with the strongest motivators for them, significantly increasing caregiver satisfaction, retention and overall team success.
Gone are the days of the two most common approaches to motivation: the carrot and the stick! More recently, behavioral scientists have overturned conventional wisdom about human motivation and explored why reward and punishment don’t work. They propose other non-financial (intrinsic) motivators are frequently more critical for successful team outcomes, including:
- Progress towards achievement/personal growth
- A sense of purpose/contribution
- Feeling empowered in their work.
To be engaged in their work, excited about their goals, and work well together towards successful outcomes, your team must have its motivational needs met. When these needs aren’t satisfied, dysfunctional behavior and disengagement can creep in and steer the whole team off course.
To help optimize your caregivers’ motivation and engagement, take simple steps to determine their strongest intrinsic motivations and try to align their work assignments accordingly.
3. Master the art of constructive feedback
Your home care team won’t necessarily know if they are succeeding unless you tell them! Throughout the year, it is important to provide regular feedback to caregivers and staff at all levels.
Every employee wants to feel that they are being noticed and valued because it empowers them to succeed. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, employees who are aware of their strengths are more motivated, perform better, and are less likely to leave. The report found that when managers don’t notice or point out their team members’ strengths, disengagement increases by up to 45%.
In addition to measuring what matters to the bottom line – such as cash flow, revenue, margins and other financial data – also measure things that your whole team can relate to. For example, track performance metrics that directly relate to the tasks people perform each day, such as new client conversions, sales funnel velocity, on-time visits, scheduling (e.g. missed or late check-ins), client volume, client retention, MoM visit growth, and client satisfaction.
When your staff can see what winning looks like, in ways they can relate to, they can make better decisions that support achieving your agency’s primary goals.
Successful team leaders know that feedback is a two-way process, so make sure your team know you genuinely care about how things are going – the positive and the negative. If they are facing a particular challenge in meeting individual or team goals, or anything else is affecting their daily work life, they should feel able to bring it to your attention so you can help address and resolve the situation quickly.
Useful and timely feedback is a critical component of a successful team, to keep individuals and teams on track, and let them know how to improve. However, feedback must be proactive and constant. Apart from providing regular individual feedback, also plan for team feedback to help align your team around company goals. Open and honest professional relationships between everyone in the team will pave the way for success, for the team and your home care agency.
4. Provide the right training and coaching
Education and training require more than merely providing a training manual and sending your team off into client homes. Every home care agency needs comprehensive ongoing training, coaching and mentoring.
While home care services are often divided into skilled and non-skilled, every caregiving role requires some level of skill, knowledge, and training. Your agency’s training and coaching programs will directly shape the quality of care that your clients receive.
Establish a professional development budget – money set aside for training, coaching and mentoring opportunities – to communicate that you consider your team worth the investment and that you genuinely care about them. This goes a long way towards building loyalty and trust.
The better training and coaching your caregivers receive, the more likely they are to have higher job satisfaction, provide better care and stay with your agency longer. During the COVID-19 crisis, you will need to look at providing options for online training. This allows caregivers to learn at their own pace, stay engaged in their work and feel more inclined to opt for a long-term future within your agency.
Also consider specialized caregiver training, which will allow your home care agency to create higher-margin speciality programs. These programs are typically more profitable because clients are less price-sensitive and stay with an agency longer. The bottom line: quality caregiver training pays for itself, and then some.
Be a leader who views training as an investment, rather than an expense. Both you and your team should be continually learning and applying what you have learned if you want your home care agency to stand out from the crowd and be successful in a highly competitive market in 2021.
5. Celebrate success
It is typical for many home care agencies to expect staff to accomplish a goal and then move on to the next, repeatedly. This approach works in the short term but is likely to lead to job dissatisfaction, burnout and lack of motivation if left unchecked. Even success can become uninspiring when it is not acknowledged.
To keep high-performing teams and employees engaged, smart leaders make recognition and celebration a priority. They show appreciation and regularly celebrate a job well done. Celebrating success boosts morale, strengthens teams, helps employees form connections and increases employee engagement.
Make sure you take the time to acknowledge and reward your team members when they deserve it. Celebrating small successes will set the entire team up for even bigger success moving forward.
6. Utilize mobile technology
While planning, feedback, motivation, and training are crucial to setting your home care team up for success, if you don’t supply them with the tools and equipment they need, they won’t be able to perform to their highest potential.
One area where this is particularly important during the COVID-19 crisis is mobile technology.
With the right software, like the SMARTcare mobile app, your caregivers can use mobile point-of-care devices to streamline their work tasks and be more efficient – in addition to providing you with valuable data for future planning and goal setting, they can:
- Optimize workflows – use best-practice workflows designed for each of the care team that makes doing their jobs easier.
- Get directions to and from appointments – logging check-in and check-out times.
- Allow admins to monitor caregiver locations at all times – for better time and client management in the event of cancellations, emergencies or assignment changes.
- Share updates on progress, changes, and challenges with relevant team members.
- Quickly receive and accept open shift requests
- Set preferred availability times for future shift assignments
- Appointments – providing real-time, anytime metrics on an ongoing basis.
- Communicate directly with clients and team members via a secure text and messaging chat.
7. Lead by example
There’s the supervisor who is critical of everyone that spends time on the internet, but is discovered shopping online during office hours; the boss who tells everyone they need to work late, but leaves early at 4 pm to play golf; the CEO who recommends layoffs to stop ‘unnecessary spending’, but then buys himself a new company car!
There’s hardly anything worse for team morale than a leader who practices the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ philosophy. Over a short space of time, the loss of enthusiasm and goodwill among the staff will be like watching the air go out of a balloon.
You have a responsibility to your team, and part of that is to lead by example, with your own actions aligning with your expectations of them. They look to you for strength, guidance and inspiration. You can inspire the people around you to push themselves – and, in turn, the company – to great success.
Those leading successful teams have a firm commitment to do the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons. This means doing what you say when you say it, and being willing to do yourself, whatever you ask of your team. If your team can’t trust you and admire you, it is highly unlikely that you will ever lead them to achieve great success.
Practice being the team member who everyone looks to and remembers ‘that’s what we’re all about’.
8. Encourage a work-life balance
While you obviously want the team to work hard and add value to your agency, it is also essential to promote a healthy work-life balance. Leaders can often focus on pressing their teams to meet deadlines and company goals, without considering the need for quality time off, which can easily lead to burnout and disengagement at work.
Achieving a reasonable work-life balance nowadays is undoubtedly more challenging, especially with the pressures from industry growth and technology, enabling staff to work from anywhere, at any time. Over the last year, more caregivers than ever are looking to achieve a healthier work-life balance, with 97.3% saying they’d be more likely to work for a company that encouraged this balance.
There are multiple ways you can help ensure each member of your team has a quality work-life balance, including flexible work options, paid time off rewards, self-care gifts (such as massage, spa visit, manicure, etc.), providing support/counseling services, and so on. The best approach is to ask your team what they would find most beneficial and, depending on your budget, aim to support them in the ways they request.
No matter how well you set your team up for success, it is essential to remember that this is an ongoing process. Every new project, task, or responsibility presents another opportunity for the team and the team’s working relationships to adjust and restructure. It is up to you as a leader to maintain that ongoing process.
Regularly take the time to think about what your team needs to be successful and how you can meet those needs. For example:
- Who needs to be managed more closely?
- Who needs more responsibility/autonomy?
- Who needs specific training or a mentoring scheme?
- Who needs additional performance coaching?
- Who are your top performers, and why?
- Who are the people causing problems or taking up a lot of your time?
- Who deserves special recognition and/or reward?
- What can we celebrate as a team this week/month?
Call to action: identify one measure that would help to set your team up for success, that you’re not currently doing, and commit to trying it today.
If you’d like more information about setting up mobile technology to enhance your team’s performance, please contact us.