Leadership Q&A

  1. What was the best question an employee ever asked you?

I was once asked by a frontline caregiver, a certified nursing assistant, how you operationalize “dignity.”

  1. What’s the hardest business decision you ever had to make? How did it turn out?

During the economic downturn in 2009, I had to restructure our business platform and made the decision to eliminate several positions. Having those conversations with folks who are performing was very difficult. The reduction and restructuring served its purpose on reducing expenses. However, it enhanced performance beyond my expectations on the revenue side. We were able to generate better results with less people!

  1. What was the best team meeting you ever held?

When I first joined Benchmark in 2009, I decided to take a new approach in how we packaged our services to the consumer. My thought was that since everyone was so cost conscious due to the downturn in the economy, we needed to make our rental rates look attractive and move more cost to the care portion. By essentially unbundling, the consumer would only need to pay for the services they needed. When I rolled this out to the team they thought I was crazy! We had a very heated debate. I loved that they pushed back, and even the folks who were in total disagreement at first got behind it. That meeting transformed our business, and it set the stage for the team to speak up and get behind new ways of doing things.

  1. What question or questions do you ask your employees to challenge their current thinking?

I consistently ask them: How we can do things better? How can we do more with less? If this was your business, what would you do?

  1. Who is your leadership idol? Why?

Actually, I do not have one. I tend to respect different leaders for different things — some for their leadership style, some for their creativity, and some for being able to make hard decisions.

Stephanie Handelson is the President and COO of Benchmark Senior Living. Pride, passion, and purpose are the unwavering principles that drives Stephanie’s strategic and visionary leadership in the senior living industry. Her dedication to unsurpassed quality in senior living remains the foundation of her sustainable success over the years. An intrinsic commitment to authentic leadership has paved her path to becoming a leading, innovative, and recognized advocate for all seniors today and tomorrow.