Department: Leadership Q&A
Q The CNO for whom I work is incompetent. I report to her as a director of nursing. How should I handle this situation?
My first recommendation is that you be careful what you say about your boss. Sometimes, what you've discussed with others will eventually be repeated to your boss and you may find yourself in your CNO's office to discuss what was said.
Next, let's review some of the competencies that a CNO needs. According to Dr. Richard Hader, the top CNO competencies are integrity, honesty, results oriented, decisiveness, inspirational, able to lead change, fairness, team oriented, excellent communication skills, a strong financial acumen, and leading by example.1 You'll need to honestly evaluate what you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of your CNO and yourself. After you've done so, try to look at it from a different perspective. By identifying the CNO's and your own strengths and weaknesses, you may find that the CNO chose you for the team because your strengths complement her weaknesses, and vice versa. You'll find that each team member's talents result in organizational success.
Remember, don't let your frustration get in the way of managing the situation to your benefit. This may be your chance to be recognized as a team player who's loyal to the organization.
1. Hader R.The truth...and nothing but the truth. Nurs Manage. 2011;42(5):6.
Q What do you believe are the three most important competencies of a nurse manager?
I truly believe that the three most important competencies that a nurse manager must have to be an effective leader are accessibility and availability, outstanding communication skills, and knowing how to recognize your staff.
Being accessible and available to staff members goes beyond the monthly required staff meetings. It's important that you schedule time for unit rounds for all shifts, weekends, and holidays. Nursing staff members need to know that the manager is available when needed. If your staff members know that you're there for them, they'll support you through the organizational strategic initiatives you need to implement to obtain successful unit outcomes.
As simple as communication seems, much of what the nurse manager tries to communicate to staff—and staff members try to communicate to the nurse manager—gets misinterpreted, which can cause conflict and dissatisfaction between you and your staff, patients, families, and physicians. Managers who've mastered communication skills will connect more successfully with all key stakeholders.
Staff recognition is driven by what the individual staff member values as important and whether he or she perceives the gesture as being meaningful. A manager should never underestimate saying “thank you” to staff as long as there's significance behind it. (See this issue's Editorial on page 6.) Learning how to recognize your employees for their hard work and making them feel significant to the organization proves to them that you believe in their accomplishments.
Nurse managers are key for employee retention because staff members believe in their nurse manager as a leader. And savvy nurse managers know that they're only as successful as the engaged and committed staff they lead.