Senior living operators share secrets to finding, keeping executive directors

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(Photo by John Merkle)
(Photo by John Merkle)

Leaders of Capital Senior Living and Five Star Senior Living used their second-quarter earnings calls this week in part to discuss their companies' approaches to recruiting and retaining executive directors.

Capital Senior Living isn't experiencing the turnover in executive directors that some other operators are seeing, company CEO Larry Cohen said Tuesday.

“The turnover of our executive directors is one the lowest threshold of our staff, and it has been very, very consistent,” he said. “I think that we're very fortunate to have a culture in the company that really promotes longevity.”

That culture, he said, includes periodically giving stock awards to the executive directors deemed to be the best; holding town hall-style meetings at which long-term employees are recognized; providing training, including sales training for executive directors; and promoting employees from within the company, when possible, Cohen said. Capital, he added, tries to “promote careers and not jobs.”

“Almost every one of our regional managers — we made changes this year in regional managers to improve performance — they all were executive directors who were promoted,” he said. “We now have developed a plan to develop our own internal executive directors from business directors and other employees.”

Five Star's Rising Star program also is designed to cultivate executive directors at the community level, company President and CEO Bruce Mackey said Wednesday.

“Executive directors are the difference-makers in operating a successful building,” he said.

Six people currently are going through the program, Mackey said, and the company is deciding who will be next to participate. New people will be admitted regularly, he said.

“We have had more than 1,000 applicants,” Mackey said. “Both internal and external applied for this tremendous opportunity.”

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