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CW 85: Kathy Parry

Do you remember that middle school science class when you created a circuit? If assembled correctly, a switch would engage the flow of energy, energy would flow through the wires and a light bulb would illuminate. Creating an energized team or organization can be as simple as that rudimentary circuit.

In this episode, Kathy Parry walks you through the components of a fully functioning circuit. The end goal of all this flow of energy is to make sure that light bulb is lit. But what is the lightbulb? What are you and your teams giving your energy toward each day? Many senior living professionals are powering so many light bulbs, that eventually something or someone shorts out. 

Creating more precise goals helps teams use their energy more efficiently. Productivity and engagement increase when energy goes towards those well-defined goals.

Welcome to Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday, I’m Kathy Perry, Corporate Energy Expert, and so excited to be a part of Contributor Wednesday. I will be with you for six episodes coming up in 2022. And during my sessions, we’re going to concentrate on powering up. I know many of us have faced some energy drains. Organizational energy may be low, but as a Corporate Energy Expert, I help you in your teams, power up, increase engagement productivity. We’re gonna be getting going on all kinds of good stuff like that.

So in this first session of power up and perform, evaluate your energy drains, find your energy sources and implement a power plan: we’re going to look at defining your well, what does your energized organization look like? How do the pieces fit together? All of those things we’re gonna look at today? Well, the first time I understood how an energy circuit worked was the time that my older brother locked me out of his room. See, I was that annoying little sister, about eight years younger than my brother. And he was absolutely a complete nerd. We’re really close today. So I’m allowed to call him that, but he wore those glasses that made him look nerdy and he did science experiments all the time. He was always building a rocket or creating something. Well, the day that I was locked out of his room, there was a sign and a contraption sitting on the door and it said, “push this button for entry.” I was like, what in the world? While I push the button and then coming over this very archaic looking speaker, I heard (inaudible). Who is it? Who wants in? Well, he had created an Intercom system for his bedroom door. We weren’t allowed to enter unless we pushed the button. And this was just one of his many experiments.


It frustrated me to no end, but it was my first introduction to electricity and how it might actually be applied. Well, my older brother Bill did go on to become an electrical engineer. And I tease him to this day saying, hey, Bill too bad, you didn’t invent that ring doorknob, that could have made you millions. Well, flash forward to when it became apparent in my life, I was going to really need to understand how circuitry worked. And that was when I purchased my first house. And you know, that time when the inspector shows up and you think this is like my dream house, everything’s gonna be great. Well, the house that I had purchased with my ex-husband was built in 1939. And it had these solid bones, hardwood floors, a slate roof. So the inspector was going all through the house and saying, ah, this is great. This is great architecture. Everything is solid, until we went down in the basement and he opened up that breaker box. Well, the breaker box was very dated and he said, oh, the circuitry in this house isn’t good. It’s probably not even up to code. We’re really gonna have to look through this.

The worst case scenario would be electrical outage that could lead to a fire. It’s probably gonna cost you some money. Sure enough, it did. It ended up costing us quite a bit of money to fix, but we had to be safe. And we had to make sure that our power sources were strong and that our house was being powered properly. 

I would like to look at how your power sources might be shorting out or do you have enough power? This last year and a half have certainly strained our sources, right?


Well, let’s go back then and look at what a circuit actually looks like. The pieces that make up circuitry and for this kind of have to go back to ninth grade science class. For me, it was Mrs. MeHawk’s class. And we walked in the door and sitting out on the lab were all the components to make a circuit. You know, you had that switch. There was a power source, usually just a battery. Although now kids do experiments with sweet potatoes and all kinds of funny things. There’s wires that connect it. If you have too much power flowing through a circuit, something called resistors. So you can monitor the flow and that’s in case you get a surge. And then there’s finally this thing that are powering, right? In our case, it was the light bulb. So picture this in your mind, go back if you need to, to that science class, when you were in junior high or high school, and you’re putting together the pieces in a way that makes the energy flow in an efficient manner so that you get the end result, which is lighting up that light bulb.

Now I’d like you to take that image and think about either your organization or your team, or even you personally. What are you powering? So looking at it from an organizational standpoint, you are powering either you are in a residence, or you are, you know, maybe you are in the sales area. Maybe you are operations. Maybe you are nursing or clinical staff. So think about what are you powering in that? And I’m guessing if you start making a list, the list gets very long.

How many light bulbs demand your energy each day? So if you are in operations, how many people are contacting you during the day? How many fires are you putting out? What kinds of planning are you doing? If you are on the clinical side, how many residents need your care? Or if you are managing a clinical division, how many staff do you have? You see how this goes? We can be powering way too many light bulbs for the actual energy we have. And this is when we begin to get burned out, right? Because we just don’t have enough flowing through our circuits, but where we also go wrong in our circuitry is that we don’t, besides not knowing which light bulbs we’re powering, we’re not sure always which ones are gonna pop up throughout our day that we might need to power. There’s often personal things that cut in there’s professional, regulatory becomes an issue, your residents, maybe you’re even in school or you’re going for an advanced certification. You might need to power that.

Well, if there’s just too many at one time, you might short a circuit. So what I encourage you to do in this first episode in our power up and perform is take time to make an assessment. Where does your energy go? And this could be again at the organizational level, your leadership level or your personal level, make a list of all the areas that demand energy from you, all the different areas. And I think if you see it down and actually start listing them out, you’ll be shocked at how many different things you are trying to power.

It could be anything from reporting. It could be regulations that you have to learn new things about. It could be just that implementing a new plan of development. And then of course, there’s always the residents who are constantly of need of different types of programming, different types of creating new scenarios for them as they begin to maybe transition through your organization.

9:18 Maybe they’re moving from an independent care, into an assisted living. Things just compound constantly. And we’re you find that, oh my gosh,there’s not enough of me. There’s not enough to go around. Well that we also understand that many of us are spaced with staffing shortages. And so when we are not fully staffed, those, what we are powering also becomes a difficult thing. So step number one in today’s power up and perform is to really look at what you are powering. Where does all of that go in future episodes? We’re gonna also be looking at where the drains are, where the circuitry may be off, because that first step of this power up and perform is that end product, that light bulb. Where does all of your energy go? It goes to the light bulbs, but if we have way too many, they don’t burn very bright.

So is your organization’s light bulb burning bright? Is it a shining beacon? Does everyone know that you are fully energized? Can they see it? When someone walks through the door of the residence, can they feel that’s a bright shining thing or is it starting to look kind of dim? What does an energized organization look like? 

When I ask this question, when I work with organizations, this becomes a part of goal setting. So what is the goal for each of those light bulbs that you are powering? When does it feel strong enough? Bright enough? So I like to call these not necessarily just plain old goal setting, but I like to call them nail gun goals.

So going back to my house that was built again, way back in 1929, we had to do a lot of work in this house and it was fun. I really enjoyed it. I love all those plans when you’re watching the remodeling shows and you think you can just be just like the Property Brothers or Chip and Joanna Gaines and you have all these great idea. This house in particular had plaster walls and everyone wants plaster walls in an old house because they hold up longer. But the thing is when you need to nail something in those plaster walls, it’s a little bit more of a proposition because if something goes wrong in that, putting that nail in plaster can crumble and it’s a little harder to fix. So one time I was trying to nail something into the wall and I was doing great. Picture me holding a nail with the hammer and it’s very clear that the hammer needs to hit that nail on the head. And I do great for the first couple taps, but then I had two cats at the time. And all of a sudden, there’s this commotion, this ruckus, a fight. And I’m in the middle of trying to put that nail in and boom, I hit the wall. Hit the wall, make a hole, plasters crumbling. Well, years later when I saw on these home remodeling shows everybody doesn’t use hammers anymore. No they’ve gone to nail guns, right? So when I talk about creating nail gun goals, I like to say, it’s the difference between a hammer hitting that nail in the head and that nail gun, you know how it works? You just put it down and boom, shoot it. It immediately sends a nail into something, not walls so much that we wanna use them for. But I like to say nail gun goals are clear. They’re more precise. They’re strong. If you’re just kind of aiming with a hammer, you can go off course.

So when we’re trying to figure out what an energized organization looks like and how your organizations light bulbs are burning, think about the goals and think about making them clear, precise and strong. When you get really clear on the goal, so for instance, one of the light bulbs you were powering is to create really clear, concise goals when it comes towards regulatory issues, right? So everyone has all these regulatory issues, but maybe there’s a communication mishap where somebody doesn’t get all the information or maybe it’s not filtering down to everybody who needs it. Maybe we just aren’t making enough time for it. So when you’re making those goals around to keep that light bulb, that you have to devote energy to burning, make those goals really strong.

14:21 – Every Tuesday from 3-4, my team will reassess where we stand on the regulatory issues and even name the people who are doing it. So thinking about making those nail gun goals, when you are thinking about which light bulbs you are powering.
Next is an energized organization has strong communication, right? So thinking about what is that light bulb burning bright enough in your group, your team, or you can take this back even to your family, is communication strong, whatever it is, where you want to apply these power up principles. Think about what communication looks like. 

Then is engagement high? I think engagement is one of the most critical light bulbs that we can burn because when our teams are engaged, people stay. People understand that when they’re fully being recognized, they become more engaged. So what does that look like for your team? Is that a light bulb that is important for you to be burning bright.

Next is resident satisfaction. What does that look like on an energized team? What are the goals around that? Is that light bulb burning bright? There’s so many things that you as an organization or your team can look at when you think about this circuit model and the light bulb as being the end result. Which ones are the big bulbs, the really big ones that need to be shining, you know, like those what are they called…the search lights? How about the Hollywood parties? What are so big that they have to burn bright. And then what are those other ones that maybe you don’t need to be devoting as much energy to? Or which ones can you unscrew completely? Where are you giving energy that you really shouldn’t?

I actually made a list this year as I started looking at 2022 goals. And I was like, which ones am I gonna cut out so I don’t burn out? And that is a really important part of this energy assessment as well. There’s some things that we just shouldn’t be doing. Unscrew those light bulbs, save them for later, say I’m gonna screw that light bulb back in 60 days when I actually have time for it and remove it from your energy circuit. So you’re not giving it that much attention.

So that’s our first look at our power up and perform series that I will be doing with you in the next five episodes now as we get through this first episode. I’m excited to be working with senior living teams because I understand exactly how draining that energy circuit can be.

I am a caregiver for my youngest child who is highly special needs. I’ll probably tell you more about her in coming episodes, but I understand how that caregiving in every capacity, in every role can be draining to your energy circuit.

17:52 – So the opposite of what we’ve looked at today, which is powering up and this energy bulb is what’s not burning so bright and why? And in the next episode that I am with you, we are going to look at another portion of that circuit. And we’re gonna look at the energy drains. What are the things that are actually draining you, your teams, your organizations of energy, so that your end goal can’t be met? They come in different forms. They come in forms of professional drains, leadership drains, personal drains.

So we’ll be looking at the five types of energy drains in the next episode of Contributor Wednesday Bridge the Gap. So I wanna thank you so much for listening to Bridge the Gap contributor Wednesday. This is Kathy Perry, corporate energy expert, and I’d absolutely love it. If you would connect with me at That’s where you can find all of the episodes. And I wanna thank the Bridge the Gap team for having me and I look forward to additional coming up in 2022 to help you, your teams, your organization, power up and perform. Thank you so much for joining me today.

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CW 85: Kathy Parry