Managing people is akin to being a new parent. You can take classes to learn the mechanics (and even get a degree in the case of nursing management) but are never truly schooled until in the real situation! A manager has a lifetime of work experience, education, and training; but isn't fully prepared for the task when given the title of Manager! So, the question is… How can I be an effective nurse manager?
Having managed in the military and the private sector, there is one constant: people are people. As their leader, people look to you not simply for a pay check; they seek guidance, higher learning, mentorship, and recognition. Here are six tips to improve your nurse management skills:
- Lead by example: Have you ever heard the expression "Do as I say, not as I do"? Well…this doesn't apply when managing people.
- Time: The people you manage look to you and at you. If you expert them to be at work at 6:45 AM, you must be there at 6:30 AM. Similarly, if you consistently slip out early every afternoon, what message are you sending?
- Integrity: There is no wiggle room here! Say what you mean, mean what you say, and follow through on statements to employees. The people you manage must know they can rely on your honesty. Also, if you don't know the answer to a question, there is nothing wrong with saying, "I'm not sure, but I will find out.” The alternative of making something up on the spot to answer the question can bring your integrity into question!
- Work ethic: If you expect 100% from your employees each day, demand the same from yourself. Your job as a manager is not to kick back and hope things run smoothly. One of your tasks is setting goals and objectives for your associates and department and helping to achieve those goals.
- You are there to help, not complicate! Another cliché: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” There is nothing worse for an employee (this has personally happened more than once) than having a dynamic manager arrive on the scene and immediately make major systematic changes; without a full understanding of how the system he/she is changing fully functions. "Streamlining" policies and increased paperwork are not necessarily positives! Who has to learn/work these policies and complete that paperwork? The employees. Don't complicate the full plates already in front of them. If you are a new manager, take time to evaluate the policies and procedures and how each is working in real time. Include your employees in policy change recommendations before the alterations are implemented. Employees are a wealth of knowledge and want to be part of a…
- Team environment: It is imperative to invest time in building positive rapport and relationships with your employees. Management is a partnership - not a dictatorship. If you think historically of dictatorships, they did not turn out well! Goal accomplishment is a team effort. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of each individual on your team. Capitalize and accentuate the positives and partner to improve on weaknesses. Create upbeat team events including: luncheons, motivational team training classes, and (dare I say) a weekend picnic for employees and their family members. The effort you put into building a team will pay high dividends in accomplishing objectives. You will soon find other employees within your organization are scrambling to join your team!
Have you ever held a management position? Please leave a comment sharing your advice on what makes an effective nurse manager.
Click here to read, "Nurse Management Skills: 6 Tips for Improvement, Part 2" .