When being promoted into new positions, many Nurse Managers find it tough to transition from individual contributor to manager.
The move from clinical practice and bedside nursing to management represents a significant change – and requires different skills. Here are 8 tips to help enable your new Nurse Manager and help her/him achieve early success.
1) Have realistic expectations – plan the first 30 days
Nurse Managers can be set up to fail when administrators don’t give clear expectations, and do not communicate what they expect managers to devote time to. In the first 30 days, help Nurse Managers create a vision for their team. How do they see their unit aligning with the business objectives of the hospital?
As part of the plan for the first 30 days, make sure provided support is part of that plan, usually from the Nurse Director. Directors should schedule 30 minute meetings twice a week with new managers.
2) Provide time for orientation
For a few weeks, new Nurse Managers can spend time observing and learning the unit and spend minimal time in management tasks. This will help her understand how the department functions from a staff nurses eyes. During this time the director can handle some typical management responsibilities if needed. Encourage your new manager to get to know her team, especially if they are an outside hire.
3) Help her get to know and establish relationships with key players
This is especially important for external hires. New Nurse Managers need to know who they can go to for advice and how informal hospital communication channels work. Let her know not to hesitate to use internal resources, and that she does not need to know it all.
4) Help her set clear guidelines and expectations up front
Help your new leader set a course with her staff. New Nurse Managers should collaborate with their team on a vision and steps to accomplish this vision, then work with the team to identify contribution areas and establish clear expectations. Gaining commitment from a team on objectives provides a framework for the evaluation of progress – and individual contributions.
Setting guidelines and expectations up front can be tough if new Nurse Managers are switching hats from peer to leader. But holding staff nurses accountable to team and individual goals will help her gain respect.
5) Help find a mentor
A new role, coupled with a lack of trust from staff because they are new, can leave managers feeling like they are on their own. Find your new hire a mentor who can offer support and encouragement and help her find her way. The mentor may be another nurse manager in the organization or from a sister organization who can mentor remotely. They do not need to be in the same specialty, it just needs to be someone who can provide support and help build leadership skills.
6) Help her accept ambiguity
The job is rarely the same day to day and lacks the sense of closure nurses may be comfortable with as bedside nurses. Let your Nurse Managers know that ambiguity is not a bad thing, and she will get used to it. If your new Nurse Manager is focusing on problem prevention, not just problem management, it will be hard to see quick tangible results. But that is a good thing.
7) Help with comfort level of policies, procedure and the numbers
Team relationships and communication are important, but managers need to be comfortable with data and numbers. Nurse Managers are resources for their teams and can lose credibility if they are not filled in on policies or financial indicators of success for the organization. Most Nurse Managers originally get into to nursing to help people, and this may not be a strong skill set for them naturally.
8) Point her towards leadership training and educational
Let your new manager know she is not expected to have all the answers, especially early in her role! Have her take advantage of training opportunities available through purchased curriculum, organizations, or associations. Management and communication classes will help new Nurse Managers. Have her become familiar with the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) or Nursing Leadership Institute. Nurse Managers can find the work volume overwhelming when they do not receive training on how to deal with problems.