Choosing the Right Team: The People that Make the Community Excel

Apr 8, 2024 | Blogs

At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we pride ourselves on being the best-in-class trusted partners within the senior living industry. For this to be true, we emphasize crafting excellent teams by hiring great teams and nurturing great teams. We sat down with Melissa Labor, Chief People Officer, and Shantel Arrowood, Regional Vice President, to discuss how the right teams make our communities excel.

Qualities of a Good Team 

Senior living is a field that requires a specific set of skills and character traits for all team members. However, it’s not just about individual skills or character; rather, it’s about creating a cohesive unit that shares a common goal and values. Here are the qualities that enable 12 Oaks teams to thrive.

Ensuring Quality

First, it’s important to note our process for seeking out quality. From the interview process to onboarding and beyond, we value getting to know candidates and employees to ensure that they are committed to our goals and values. Melissa explains, “Our hiring process is multifaceted…we involve people in each of the interviews who will be interacting with them….We need to ensure not only that they align with our values but also ask behavioral-based questions during interviews so that we can have specific examples of how they have demonstrated those values in their work.” By being intentional about who participates in the interview process and strategic in the questions asked, we ensure that we are bringing on the best candidates for our teams.

Shantel adds, “I do something with my leadership teams that I expect my Executive Directors to do with their teams as well. Whenever I visit a community, I ensure that we engage in activities together….not work-related, because that’s how we grow, connect, and get to know each other on a different level…As a result, it’s part of my EDs’ quarterly goals to spend offsite time with each of their department heads. It’s also a quarterly goal for them to have a one-on-one sit-down lunch with all of their new employees.” A thorough interview process with intentional follow-up after hire ensures that quality is prioritized. This two-fold process allows us to build teams that ensure we are the best in class.

Candidates With Character

When bringing on new team members, Shantel believes that a candidate without experience but with a heart for residents is more important than a candidate with experience but lacking a heart for the industry and the people they work with. Shantel states, “I’m looking for somebody who wants to be part of a team, wants to make a difference, and I can teach them the job. I can’t teach them to have a heart for seniors. They either have it or they don’t. So that’s what I’m looking for when I’m building my team, and that’s what I’m encouraging my leaders to look for as they build their teams.” In senior living, experience pales in comparison to heart, which is why our leaders are seeking out candidates with the character to match our team roles.

Candidates Who Promote The Customer Experience

Melissa builds on Shantel’s thought by explaining, “We want to make sure that we are hiring individuals who have empathy, who are respectful, and who are even super patient…the patience piece is really important. All of our employees must have experience, so there’s the employee experience, which then relates and correlates to our resident experience.” Melissa makes a direct connection between the heart of the candidate and the customer experience. She adds, “Every single person is representative of 12 Oaks.” Regardless of role, 12 Oaks brings on candidates who will live out our goals and values of servanthood, stewardship, competency, and character, ensuring we are the best in class as trusted partners.

Interested in joining our team? See our openings here!

12 Oaks team members engaging in a meeting.

Candidates Who Collaborate

Shantel believes a key part of being on the team is working with others. She points out, “If people want to be there, then they’re going to develop that culture of collaboration.” When selecting candidates for 12 Oaks, we not only consider candidates as individuals, but we also consider how they will fit into the existing teams. Shantel explains, “Teamwork makes it happen. If your teams are not bought in, connected, and supporting each other, you’ll never meet your goals.” At 12 Oaks, we look beyond simply filling roles; we focus on the long-term success of our candidates and the teams they will join. “I think it is so important when I’m looking to add team members or coaching my EDs about building their teams, that we have to look not only at the strengths candidates bring, but also at their fit within our existing team.” Shantel adds. Team building is more than just having multiple people work together; it requires a specific dynamic for a team to accomplish its goals.

Nurturing Our Teams

Once a team is formed, we believe in the importance of nurturing it to facilitate growth and to uphold our goals and values. Being the best in class entails developing our teams to be tightly knit and equipped to pursue new opportunities in furtherance of the 12 Oaks goal. This necessitates intentional nurturing and strategic interactions within our teams and leadership.

Leveraging Strengths

Every person is unique, and Melissa believes in capitalizing on the individual strengths and talents of each team member. She explains, “We emphasize connection. So, to build connections, you have to get to know your people individually and discover their strengths so they can thrive in them. People are more engaged and committed to their work and colleagues when they utilize their strengths because that’s where they find fulfillment.” Providing opportunities to leverage strengths can ultimately lead to higher productivity because team members feel fulfilled and trusted in their specific areas of work. This higher morale can only positively impact our partners and residents.

12 Oaks Senior Vice President, Aaron Catoe

Relationship Building

At 12 Oaks, we believe it’s important to know our team members beyond their identity within the organization. That’s why we create opportunities to connect with our teams and their families outside of work. Melissa shares, “We have lots of quarterly events, and sometimes we’ll plan something spontaneously where we can all participate together… We strive to organize diverse activities and include family members so that we can build strong connections. Part of our team-building efforts involves fostering relationships not only with individuals but also with their families, as they are equally important to us.” By incorporating activities that foster relationships, we strengthen our teams to pursue our goals more cohesively. Investing in our teams also translates into investing in our residents. There is strength in numbers, which means our teams are equipped to do greater things when we enable them to work together with an understanding of one another. 

Providing New Opportunities

Another key aspect of nurturing our teams is providing opportunities for growth. This includes offering training opportunities for employees to develop in areas where they need improvement. However, Shantel explains that she also includes her top performers in impact training to empower them to strive for further growth. “I’m always discussing with my directors about how I won’t always be here. You could be the next RVP. I want to ensure that if that’s your goal, then I’m doing everything I can to support you.” She adds. Thinking long-term enables our leaders to view their teams as investments. That’s why our team members are given opportunities to grow and express their personal goals within 12 Oaks. “I talk to nurses and sales directors about their aspirations for promotion within the company. I need to know so that I can ensure we’re providing opportunities and the necessary development tools.” Shantel continues. Our teams prioritize collaboration over competition. That’s why you’ll find them working together to assist each other’s growth for the betterment of 12 Oaks. Teams like these are what make us the best in class as trusted partners.

12 Oaks Team Member enjoying her job

Transparency Is Key

As our new candidates join the team and our current teams continue to grow within 12 Oaks, Melissa emphasizes the importance of transparency. She explains, “Who we want to be as an organization is about open and honest feedback, transparency regarding what’s happening with the business, and awareness of the world around us. This ensures everyone feels like they’re truly part of the larger team and that we’re not operating in silos.” Melissa underscores that transparency is crucial for building trust and fostering accountability. That’s why we go above and beyond to ensure each team member feels valued by keeping them informed. Our teams understand who they’re working for, alongside, and towards, providing each member with a clear goal to pursue.

Experience excellence with 12 Oaks. Our exceptional team is dedicated to being the best in class as trusted partners. With a cohesive unit sharing common goals and values, we consistently excel in delivering quality services. Trust in 12 Oaks for an unparalleled senior living experience. Contact us today!