Karen Woodard

Developing long-term care employees into people who are engaged, interested and informed in “prickly” situations can be a tremendous asset to your business, as well as to the residents you serve. But how exactly can managers cultivate staff to become “rock stars” in your facility? It’s all about taking the time to listen to them and help them find their purpose, according to Karen Woodard, president of Premium Performance Training.

Woodard shared her tips for engaging employees in a webinar last week during the International Council on Active Aging Virtual Conference, Leadership Summit and Expo.

An employee’s motivation is found when his or her purpose is discovered, she said. To help employees discover their purpose with your organization, Woodard suggested working with each staff member to develop a personal contribution statement, and to discuss how their contributions fit with the organization’s core values, mission and promise.

“Organizations that really want to know what the driving reasons are for an individual to be involved in the organization tend to have higher engagement from those employees,” Woodard said. 

She also recommended that managers take the time to listen more than talking when it comes to conversing with employees.

“It sounds trite, but the reality is that a lot of us forget to listen,” she said. “And it’s only when we listen can we really understand what questions to ask next to solve a problem.” Woodard even advised attendees to keep their ratio of listening to talking to about 70/30.

“This is a key aspect of this approach, and it is a difficult one to master,” she said. Using the acronym “WAIT,” which stands for “Why Am I Talking?” can help managers with this task, Woodard added.