The USA Network has a motto, “Characters Welcome.” It refers to its intent to showcase unusual and fascinating characters in its television shows. I love it and I aspire to it. In fact, if I had a sign hanging over my door, that would be it: Characters Welcome.

Nancy King
Nancy King

For me it means welcoming the things about people that make them unique. It means learning about them, who they are and what they can contribute. Maybe their appearance is less than conservative. Maybe they have trouble with public speaking. Or maybe their passion bubbles overboard loudly and freely. My mentor, Glen Gronlund, said to me, “Nancy, people with great strengths have great weaknesses.” I love it when those great strengths can shine through.

In leadership we are taught about Emotional Intelligence (EQ). EQ emphasizes self-awareness and self-control as well as trust and relationship building. But I wonder and even worry if we aren’t trying to homogenize people too much or too soon. Has it become more important to be liked than to do a good job? Are we trying to make them fit the mold we have constructed?

Here is the root of my concern. According to a study by Leadership IQ, about half of new hires fail within 18 months. And according to the study, this “failure” isn’t related to skills, technical ability or performance. Managers’ reasons for job loss had more to do with the employee’s personality, coachability, and emotional intelligence. In fact, only 11% of the failures were due to job competence. Yikes! Can we afford to lose half of our new hires because they aren’t “a fit”?

It’s tough to be new. Six years ago, after 28 years in one organization, I became a new employee in a new company. It was both exciting and challenging. I was greeted and introduced with great warmth and fanfare. I was asked my opinion on everything. I felt needed. Yet, the comfort of working in familiar surroundings with people I had known for years was gone. I was confident in my abilities, but not with my understanding of how things worked there. I did my best to understand the culture, the politics, the sacred cows and the networks within the organization, while at the same time hitting the ground running with big assignments. No one provided me with a rule book on the do’s and don’ts. I worried that I would inadvertently “step in it.”

I wonder if this happens to our new employees. We know we need to have compassionate, mission-centered people. And we should not compromise on that. And true, we need to replace the disengaged and destructive. But, I can’t help but think that the responsibility for the employee’s success or failure should be shared. Maybe it’s our own managers who lack the skills and personality to be good coaches or mentors. Or perhaps we are underestimating the time it takes to assimilate someone into our culture. It could be that our managers are so focused on the daily tasks, they don’t have the time or wherewithal to properly on-board an employee and stress the organization’s values. And maybe the unwritten rules and norms of our organizations are not obvious to new employees.

Whatever the case, I know this: We can’t afford to have half of our new employees not work out. With the labor crisis projected to get worse, in addition to better hiring, maybe we need to spend more time with our new employees, not just teaching them the particulars of their job, but helping them become a part of our organization. And as leaders, maybe we need to promote a culture of acceptance and inclusion so that new employees feel welcomed and valued.

Nancy King is president of Senior Options LLC, Virginia Beach, VA.

As our Director of Health Information Technology, Devyn provides management and support for all health information systems use and performance for the Senior Options national network. Additionally is responsible for the technical, clinical and financial operational procedures of the electronic health record and all ancillary information systems.

Devyn has over 10 years of health information technology and project management experience inclusive of managing and supporting electronic health record systems including implementation planning and maintenance of both physician practice and senior living systems. Devyn has a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration MSHA from Southern New Hampshire University and Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration from Auburn University. Devyn is a Certified HIPAA Professional (CHP).
Devyn developed a passion for Senior Care while volunteering at a local hospice, skilled nursing facility and Area Agency on Aging during her undergraduate years. She enjoys traveling and outdoor activities and Calligraphy.

Joan is the President of Senior Options, a Home Health and Hospice advisory group, and Westminster-Canterbury at Home, a home health and hospice agency in Virginia Beach. She previously served as Vice President of Operations & Clinical Services for Senior Options. Joan has over 30 years of experience in Home and Community-Based Services (HBCS), Hospitals, and Life Plan Communities.

Joan’s compassion, energy, and focus have been evident throughout her career. She has expertise in implementing new Home Health and Hospice operations as well as supporting existing agencies in operational and financial improvement. In addition, she is an expert in operational audits, consulting, and leadership for Home Health and Hospice. Also, Joan is mission-focused on leadership and creating healthy organizations that bring out the best in people.

Joan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from The University of Cincinnati and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development and Positive Change Management from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. Joan is Certified in Appreciative Inquiry.

Karen started her medical career in 1984 as a registered nurse working in the intensive care unit and medical surgical. In 1999 she began working in home health, hospice and long term care earning various certificates as a Certified Nurse Executive, CNE; a Certified Wound Care Nurse, CWCN; a Certified Oasis Coder, COS-C; and in 2006 became a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, LNHA. Before joining Senior Options in 2022, Karen also served as a Nursing Home Administrator for CCRC a skilled nursing facility, a Director of Operations for Home Health and Hospice, a Senior Executive Director for Long-term Care, a Preceptor for the Virginia Board of LTC Administrators and as a Nursing Instructor.

Karen has a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Excelsior College in Albany NY and a Legal Nurse Consultant Certificate from Kaplan University.

As our Senior Director of Finance and Operations, Melinda is responsible for the finance, accounting, and billing team at Senior Options. And, she works with our current and prospective partners on budgeting, strategic initiatives, reimbursement, cost reports, and pro forma development.

Melinda brings over 25 years of financial management experience in the senior care environment. She has led the overall operations for six healthcare living centers, and two assisted living communities. She also has experience collaborating with multiple healthcare and state associations. Melinda currently serves as the Vice-Chair for the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants Board of Directors and is a member of the America Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Melinda enjoys reading, traveling, walking, attending plays, and concerts.

Michelle’s experience in health care leadership spans for over 13 years. Before joining Senior Options, she served as the Administrator for Columbus Colony (the only deaf Nursing Facility in the country) where she was responsible for quality assurance and regulatory affairs, memory care, activities, policies and procedures, and resident care. Before that, Michelle served as the Vice President of Business Development for Senior Independence, now Ohio Living Home Health and Hospice, where she was responsible for growing home health and hospice by over 200% in seven owned and four partner home and community services agencies. Michelle also has 20 years of leadership experience in many Fortune 500 companies, including Gap Inc., IBM, and GTE, where she served in senior leadership positions in Sales, Marketing, and Client Services.

Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Grand Valley State University, a Certificate of Economics from the University of Krakow in Poland, and a Master of Business Administration from Franklin University. Michelle is a CHAP, Certified Consultant.