Nursing management is an essential function in the nursing world and sometimes we get lucky to have great managers but also there’s the possibility of having not so great mangers as well. Nursing management teams are comprised of a lot of different nurses, each of which hold their own responsibilities but work together to create a solid functioning nursing team so when I speak about management, I speak about it as a whole and not just one role in particular. After having 5 years of experience, I have learned along the way what I consider to be good nursing management but this has also been because I have had terrible nurse managers and know what I do not want in a nursing management team ever again. So what determines if your nursing management team is good or if it’s bad? Let’s start by discussing what I feel makes a good nursing management team and how this has helped to shape me as a nurse.
When it comes to good management, I am looking for a team that provides support, knowledge, accountability, excellent communication skills and strong leadership skills.
Support comes in many forms and can be as simple as checking in to make sure you are okay or offering an extra hand when they see you need help. This goes hand in hand with being accessible and approachable for questions. Support is also uplifting staff to make sure their needs are being taken care of and make them feel like they are not being taken advantage of. Being supportive can also be in the form of encouraging staff to pursue employment opportunities without putting guilt on them for wanting to leave to do something different.
When I think of a nurse manager or supervisor, I look up to them to have the answer to things or be able to help me get the answers. They should have strong clinical expertise so that others can come to them for reliable and accurate information. They should have thorough knowledge about practice and procedures as well.
In regard to accountability, I am referring to management teams that are willing to step up to the plate and cover when they need to in order to make sure the facility is running properly. As a manager, I feel as though they are responsible for the overall functioning of the workplace so when something goes awry, they should help to pick up that slack or call on other staff to fill those gaps.
Communication is being able to effectively communicate with staff to say what you have to say but also say it in a way that is respectful regardless of what information is being conveyed. Disciplining an employee or having to correct someone can be uncomfortable at times but there are ways that management can address these things that is effective and can de-escalate someone who may become disgruntled during that time. Staff should also feel comfortable to communicate their issues and concerns to the management team and this can be created by solidifying an open line of communication between staff and management. Also communication is how new information such as new policies and procedures or company news is spread across to all the applicable people. People like to be in the know about what is going on with things in their workplace and an element of surprise can leave staff feeling blindsided and upset.
Being a strong leader in a management position is essential and covers a magnitude of different things. Leadership has key skills that involve problem solving, decision making and assertiveness. Being a strong leader keeps a team together and working in a facility is a job that requires a strong team to make sure that everything is working fluidly. Nurses always need that person in management that is strong to take issues head on and help to diffuse or resolve the issues at hand. The issues can be related to patient care, an employee to employee issue or a personal issue but no matter what, it needs to be taken care of appropriately and with someone who is also able to execute the resolution
Since these qualities are what I look for these days, what got me to seek out these qualities of future nursing jobs? It started by working for an incredibly dysfunctional skilled nursing facility that had TERRIBLE management issues but when I returned back to them following a two month long hiatus, I was introduced to a whole new management team there. I ended up going to the longterm care unit because there was a full time day shift position available so I took it. On this unit, I had an amazing unit manager who was incredibly supportive and knowledgeable so I was able to learn so much from her. The new DON came with a team of an ADON and nurses which aided in our staffing issues. The scheduler worked very hard for us to be completely staffed so that we didn’t have to complete unexpected double shifts and mandatory overtime. They had on-call rotations and if someone called out on the weekend, upper management would come in and pick up the shift. The DON would sometimes make me weekend supervisor which I was okay with because he communicated with me about it ahead of time and was there for me if I had difficulty with the staff or an issue in the building. They listened to my concerns and wanted to make sure I was happy. I had to leave this job because I was really burnt out from the monotony of skilled nursing life and wanted to try something different. The DON knew I was planning on making a change and he was disappointed when I put my notice in. Despite me leaving that job, I later down the line got to work again with that DON and other nurses from the building at another job but in a different aspect which I was happy about.
In the facility I worked in later down the road, it too had an amazing management team. I was surrounded by seasoned charge nurses, unit managers and supervisors that all made themselves available whenever I needed help. Even though I had experience in a nursing home, I was still on orientation for two solid weeks with a fellow nurse and the DON checked in regularly to see how I was doing or if I needed further orientation. I never worried about getting stuck for an extra shift as there were plenty of resources that helped with that. They wanted me to work at my full potential and work on the rehab unit but unfortunately the work schedule was not ideal and I opted to continue on with longterm care. They tried their best to keep us on our regularly scheduled floor and sometimes we had to float but it was few and far between. There was a raffle they did amongst staff that helped boost morale (who doesn’t love extra money?) It was a pleasure to work for this other company and the only reason why I left was because I was relocating. I have yet to work in a skilled nursing facility in the new state I moved to but I have accepted a position as an infection control/wound nurse and will technically be considered upper management. I am excited to start this new career and be an active part of the nursing management team so I can be part of a nursing team that I would want to work under myself.
All of these qualities that I search for have helped me to become a better nurse because I have been provided with better knowledge, increased problem solving/critical thinking skills and the courage to move forward in new positions that will better my career. Even though I was met along the way with bad management teams, it made me appreciate the importance of a good nursing team. For nurses both new and seasoned, determine the things that are important to you and that will help you to succeed as a nurse so you know what qualities matter to you . If you notice that you are in a toxic work environment, do not be afraid to look elsewhere as there are plenty of other workplaces out there that will uplift you; not bring you down. It may be difficult to determine what the nursing team is like before starting the job but be mindful of it when you are in your probationary period. Not every facility will be perfect but if they are aware of the problems and are actively trying to rectify them, that is a good sign and should not deter you from giving up too quickly on the facility. Just do what is right for you and choose the path that is going to give you the most satisfaction and fulfillment as a nurse.