John O'Connor
John O’Connor

Think of it as a modern take on the Spanish proverb about the cobbler’s children going shoeless.

We’re hearing more stories of senior living operators so enamored with big plans they are no longer really doing their day jobs.

To be clear, senior living needs all the visionaries and thought leaders it can muster. After all, that next big thing isn’t going to take care of itself.

But in their pursuit of big game and big gain, many senior living leaders are sacrificing some seemingly minor things. Things like making sure their reports have the tools they need. And guidance. And, when needed, corrective intervention. Yet all too often these days, the underlings are left to fend for themselves.

Why? Because the big guy — or gal — is at another empire-expanding meeting. Meanwhile, the empire is literally and figuratively falling apart.

One sure way to know when all is not right? When no-brainer tasks are suddenly not being done well, or perhaps not even being done at all. Doesn’t really matter though. The boss is in a meeting and he or she won’t be checking on such trivial stuff anytime soon.

Here’s another: The once frequent interactions between managers and the rest of the staff seem to be happening less often. Why? Well, the managers can’t be in two places at once. Especially if there is a new revenue-enhancing concept that needs some fine tuning. In a meeting. That goes on for hours and hours.

Perhaps such decline does not apply to you or your organization. If that’s the case, congratulations and count your blessings.

However, if you happen to be at a community where things seem to be slowly disintegrating, this might be a good time for some soul searching. Are you doing the job you were hired to do? Are you giving those who report to you the time and attention they deserve? Or are meetings always getting in the way?

If any of the above sounds uncomfortably familiar, maybe it’s time to get back to the basics. Basics such as doing the important and value-adding things you were hired to do. Basics such as controlling the control-ables. And perhaps most important of all, basics such as paying attention to detail. For in the end, they all matter.

No harm in making big plans. But that day job still has to get done.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care. Read more of his columns here.