Communication is vital to success
Department: Leadership Q&A
Senior Vice President of Nursing, Lutheran Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Q It's so difficult to find the time to have staff meetings. Are there any other communication alternatives than traditional staff meetings?
When you have a large staff and/or you have multigenerational staff with different communication styles, you may need to use multiple strategies to be effective. In general, there are three ways to engage in staff communication: face-to-face, paper, and electronic. Using all three is best.
Face-to-face staff meetings are necessary on all shifts, but you're right that you can't get to everyone and releasing staff from patient care, even for 30 minutes, can be difficult at times. It's also exhausting for the manager to run the same agenda multiple times, so using your assistant managers (if you have them) to hold some meetings is a good idea. They'll enjoy broadening their leadership role and facilitating staff discussions. You can also have short daily "huddles," which are very effective to share the most important news of the day and keep everyone connected. The merit of the open door and one-to-one communication is invaluable, too. Paper methods include the tried-and-true "read-n-sign" materials, bulletin boards, communication books, "potty papers" (posted at eye level where everyone is sure to read them), and staff mailboxes.
The most exciting new way to communicate, and the one your millennial staff will like best, is electronic. An e-mail distribution list of your staff makes it easy and can be done via work or home e-mail addresses. I have a nurse manager who's trying to get an individualized icon on her unit desktops that when clicked will bring up staff meeting minutes, informational flyers, and everything else usually distributed through paper methods. It's even possible to work with your information technology department to develop a unit home page.1 If you have an electronic medical record, you may be able to have a communication page that staff will see when they sign on for the day.
Use every type of communication and explore electronic means. You'll reap the benefits of an informed, engaged staff.
Q Our administrative team is aloof and disrespectful to the management team. Should I conquer the issue or begin looking for another job?
You're in a very difficult situation and one that you can't conquer alone, as this problem is outside the sphere of your individual influence. I agree that it's very important for all staff, including management, to feel mutual respect from everyone in the organization, as well as feeling valued for your contributions.
My first thought is to really examine why you feel this way. Is it lack of recognition, lack of involvement in decision making, or blatant disrespectful treatment? Try to identify the gap between your expectations and how you feel. Aloof is a style; disrespect isn't tolerable but it's highly variable to the recipient when not blatant. Clarifying the issue will help you prepare to address it, either within yourself in terms of how you cope/react or with trusted nursing colleagues. If any of your peers feel the same way, you can try to sort it through as a group; however, there's risk in escalating unnecessarily and subjectively when groups get going.
You could have a conversation with your CNO or a senior nursing leader, either by yourself or with one or two coworkers. The conversation should be objective with a focus on discussion, not confrontation, and geared toward what can be done to help the situation if that's what you both conclude. Maybe there's a completely different perspective on the administrative team's style that will help you, such as performance expectations aren't being met or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, your CNO may know firsthand that you're absolutely respected even if you don't feel it. This is a slippery slope. If your organization conducts 360-degree evaluations or staff satisfaction surveys, then you'll have the opportunity to give feedback in a safe manner. If your CNO is one of the "aloof and disrespectful" administrative team members you mention, then this gets even tougher.
If you can't find joy in your work and be happy in your position, then looking for another job is appropriate. I hope it doesn't come to that course of action.© 2010 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.