The Big Reason Behind Atlas Senior Living’s Rapid Success

Atlas Senior Living Community Associates and Residents

Looking back over the last 12 months and reflecting on those who have joined the Atlas team during that time makes me feel truly humbled by the caliber of people in this organization.

We started 2019 with six communities and we are ending the year with more than 20.

We place ourselves in a position to take on this growth because of great associates who perform at an exceptional level, who step up and take on more when asked. The hard work, dedication, ownership, and love shown in the Atlas Senior Living family is a large part of the reason we have been successful thus far.

It Starts with Solid Leadership

As our senior living communities and corporate office have grown over the last year, we have been fortunate to align ourselves with leaders who live our culture every day. In some cases, we hired those leaders. In other cases, we have been lucky that they came on through acquisitions.

I have had the opportunity to sit down with each of them over the last few months and I am in awe of what they do every day. They have a passion to pursue excellence and serve others. They genuinely care for those who they work with every day.

Many people talk about culture and few actually live it. Few actually show that they genuinely care for the people within their organization. The leaders at Atlas do that. Isn’t it great that the right thing to do is also good for business?

I have always been a firm believer in the following quote:

“I contend that all other things being equal we will work harder and more effectively for people we like, and we like them in direct proportion to how they make us feel.”

– Barry Posner

In my own experience, I have found this to be true as well. You will do what is required when you have a drill sergeant for a boss but the people you bend over backward to go the extra mile for are those who you know genuinely care about you as a person and have the same vision as you.

We are not naïve to the fact that as we continue to grow, that will be harder and harder to accomplish. It will always be something we put out there and talk about and something we focus on: how do we continue to attract the best and the brightest who have the same passion and culture that we have?

We won’t always be able to do things exactly as we do right now, and we can’t get caught in that trap, but we can ensure our values and culture are shared by everyone within our organization.

Thinking through all this reminded me of a story I heard one time about Pat Dye, legendary football coach at Auburn University. He picked up the phone and called one of Auburn’s most famous alumni, Bo Jackson. He wanted Bo to do some recruiting for him out West.

What kind of guy are you looking for, Coach?” Bo asked.

Well, Bo, you know the type of guy who is a good athlete but when you knock him down, he just stays down?” Coach Dye asked.

Yeah, but you don’t want that guy, do you, Coach?” Bo replied.

No, we don’t want that guy, but you know the player that you knock him down and he gets back up but if you knock him down again, he stays down?” Coach Dye asked.

Yep,” Bo said, “but you don’t want that guy either, do you, Coach?

No, but you know the guy that has heart? Maybe not as much talent, but it doesn’t matter how many times you knock him down, he just keeps getting back up?” Coach Dye exclaimed.

Yeah, I know that type of guy, Coach. That is the type of guy you are looking for, right?” Bo asked.

Well,” said Coach Dye, “that guy would be all right, but not really. Bo, I am looking for the guy who is knocking everybody down!

I have gotten a lot out of this story over the years. It teaches us that it doesn’t matter how good we are as managers. It is critical that we hire the right people.

Atlas Culture Runs Deep

I had a mentor tell me one time that culture only goes one level deep in your organization. If you hire someone who does not fit the Atlas culture, then no one who works with that person will experience or have our culture. As Atlas continues to grow, that is something that keeps us up at night and we lead by the importance of it.

This story also teaches us about perspective. If you go into a situation thinking you have the right answer, you might miss something better because you are too caught up in what your next associate should look like or how they should act. We all say we take the time to hire the “right” people and recognize how important that is but too often we fall into the trap of being busy and just hiring the first person that comes in and applies to try and “stop the bleeding.”

In the end, this only leads to more turnover and more costs and more work for you as a manager.  As Atlas continues to grow, we are committed to the fact that our culture will be at the forefront of our minds. Though our organization will inevitably change as we grow, the culture that has been created here will not be lost and will continue to flourish in each of our associates and at each of our communities.

Learn more about Atlas Senior Living.

Wyman Hamilton

Wyman Hamilton

President and COO