Enhanced Village Experiences Arise through Team Member Empowerment

Engagement flows through empowerment and everyone reaps the rewards

When a leader encourages the team members they support to think creatively, a sense of empowerment grows; through that empowerment flows engagement. This was the concept of a session at this spring’s Schlegel Villages Leadership Retreat hosted by Taunton Mills General Manager Noella Black and Christy Parsons, Vice President of Support Office services.

It has become clear in recent years through thousands of responses to team member engagement and resident quality of life surveys that there is a direct correlation between resident contentedness and team member engagement. It should come as no surprise that when teams are empowered, engaged and eager to enhance village life, residents report better health and happiness outcomes.

Christy and Noella urged those who attended their sessions to consider how best to support increased engagement through empowerment while constantly looking to identify team members who demonstrate the potential to grow into one of the many leadership roles that will need to be filled as the organization grows.

One way to do this, they suggested, was to provide challenging opportunities for team members to stretch their creativity to solve problems or enhance village life.

“We don’t want to provide easy tasks,” Christy said. “We want to provide something challenging that (a team member) might fail at, because what happens is he or she is going to work harder, the learning will be that much more rewarding and so what if they fail? They’ll fail forward.”

The idea of “failing forward” is a theme leaders at Schlegel Villages have discussed in the past, creating an understanding that true innovation requires risk, at times, and mistakes or failed attempts at providing solutions can offer the greatest of learning opportunities.

Noella shared a story from Taunton Mills dating back a few years to illustrate how leaders can create a safe place for team members to let creativity flourish, even at the risk of failure. One neighbourhood team decided they wanted to cook a traditional Thanksgiving feast for residents and families, perhaps naively not considering the actual amount of effort required to pull off such a feat. Many lessons were learned that year.

“That first meal, it wasn’t a failure,” Noella said with a smile, “but it was a lot more work than expected and we realized it’s not just one neighbourhood team (that makes such an event happen), we need all hands on deck.”

That experience, Noella said, could have been viewed as a failure but, instead of considering it a setback, the team understood that with a little more support from a broader cross-section of villagers, the event could be tremendously successful.

“It’s really just asking for help,” Noella said, and now the annual Christmas feast is one of the highlights of the year at Taunton Mills, easily welcoming more than 100 people in the spirit of togetherness at an important time of year.

This may not have been the case had the team not been empowered to attempt the event in the first place, knowing there was room for safe failure and lessons to be learned for improvement. When creativity flourishes and teams are empowered, opportunities for enhanced village experiences are limitless.