Trilogy Takes Leadership Development Cues from Humana, Chick-fil-A

As the senior living industry grapples with workforce issues marked by millennial preferences and employee disengagement, providers are doubling down on their efforts to attract new talent, nurture their staffs and foster their leadership skills.

One such operator making leadership a priority is Trilogy Health Services, and the Louisville, Kentucky-based senior living and post-acute provider has even drawn inspiration—and personnel—from the likes of insurance companies, hospitality conglomerates and fast-food chains to boost its programming and strategies.

From the Outside In


Specifically, Trilogy tapped Dave Hare in 2009 to become vice president of training and leadership development. He had previously focused on leadership development and internal consulting for Humana, an insurance provider headquartered in Louisville.

Hare has since worked to expand upon leadership programs already in place when he arrived as Trilogy grew from about 50 campuses at the time to more than 100 today. While Humana and Trilogy are “apple and orange businesses,” his background bolstered his ability to grow Trilogy’s training team and support infrastructure.

“In 2009, what was in place was very organic,” Hare tells Senior Housing News. “They already had the wheel moving. So we took that, structured it and scaled it.”


To do so, Hare has drawn from various industries and mentorships he experienced throughout his career. For example, Trilogy relies on the S.E.R.V.E. model from Chik-fil-A, which involves seeing the future; engaging and developing others; reinventing continuously; valuing results and relationships; and embodying the values of the company. And a personal mentor who ran learning for General Mills provided some direction for Hare, as well.

Otherwise, Trilogy has brought to events guest speakers from Southwest Airlines, and turned to Marriott’s principles to garner a hospitality perspective. In all cases, the goal is to take leadership development to the next level.

“There are days in front of us that we’re going to have to maneuver through some tight waters, and that means investing more in our development, not less,” Hare tells SHN.

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From the Top Down

As such, Trilogy implemented educational and development programs that take place at different levels of the organization, most of which involve Trilogy leadership in some capacity. A nurse mentorship program, for instance, allows nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to be nominated to participate in a three-day immersion program where Trilogy CEO Randy Bufford teaches.

The approach has been successful in terms of turnover, as 720 graduates from the program remain with Trilogy today and the company’s turnover rate for nurses is less than 15%.

“First and foremost, it all starts at the very top,” Hare says. “They ensure it’s an ongoing focus for us as an organization. It’s not just that they support it—they take an active role in providing that instruction.”

Additionally, Trilogy boasts a new leader on-boarding program, which is a comprehensive, six-month workshop geared specifically toward tasks necessary for different leadership positions people are taking on, like leading assisted living or dining services. Focus also revolves around building a leader’s mindset.

An administrator in training program has been in place for almost four years, and Trilogy has seen returns from this, as well. Among those that have gone through the program, the provider’s turnover rate is less than 10%. Retention rates tracked through such leadership programs “in itself is a tremendous return on investment,” according to Hare.

“My desire is to see all of the business focus on growing leaders,” Hare says. “It’s one of those areas in which we as an entire industry have to continue to get better.”

Written by Kourtney Liepelt

Photo credit: “Chick-Fil-A” by Mike Mozart, CC BY 2.0

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