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Nursing Management:
doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000431428.23829.e3
Department: Leadership Q&A

Leadership Q&A

Murray, Kathleen MSN, RN, CNA

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Chief Nurse Executive, Baptist Medical Center Beaches, Jacksonville, Fla.

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Just say “no” to gossip

Q One of our nurse managers is a gossip and it's causing trust issues among the staff. What should I do?

Many employees have experienced some type of conflict in the workplace, ranging from bullying and gossip to harassment. Gossip and rumors can make any environment toxic, but when it's a manager, the toxicity multiplies by 10-fold. What you don't want to happen is high-performing staff members pursuing other opportunities due to the negative, untrusting environment. There are several strategies you can follow before your work arena becomes intolerable.

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First, make sure that you aren't part of the gossip trail. By participating in the gossip, you're sending the message that you support it. Always try to provide a positive comment if you're approached with gossip. In an environment that's untrustworthy, it's best to keep your personal life private. Remember, you can influence the environment by coming to work with a positive attitude every day.

Next, you may want to approach the manager about staff members' perceptions of him or her being a gossip. Be professional during the conversation; it may be necessary to bring a colleague. Organizations know that no workplace is free from day-to-day problems and, for the most part, they encourage employees to bring problems to their direct supervisor. If there's no change in behavior, you have the option of bringing the issue to the manager's direct supervisor or the employee relations department.

Many organizations have a code of conduct, which states that employees must act in an ethical and professional manner and ensures freedom from any type of retaliatory actions for an employee reporting a violation. Most organizations operate on the simple principle that treating all employees fairly and promoting a positive environment will result in the best possible place to work. By trying to resolve this situation through the proper channels, you can turn a negative situation into a positive learning experience for everyone.

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Generations working in harmony

Q What are some strategies I can utilize to address the challenges of my multigenerational workforce?

The nursing workforce now contains three generational groups with different workplace values and traits. Generational misunderstandings leading to friction in the nursing unit are likely and can lead to a divided workforce, higher turnover, and a decrease in the delivery of quality patient care. The workplace characteristics typically associated with today's generations include the following:

  • Baby boomers (born mid-1940s to mid-1960s): workaholic, the crusader, all about quality, questions authority, team player, loves meetings, prefers in-person communication, wants to be valued and needed, and has little work-life balance.
  • Generation X (born mid-1960s to late-1970s): self-reliant, skeptical, needs structure and direction, lacks commitment, will ask why, somewhat entrepreneurial, wants immediate communication, needs feedback, and must have work-life balance.
  • Generation Y/millennials/nexters (born late-1970s to mid-1990s): tech savvy, has sense of entitlement, can multitask, wants instant communication, prefers collective work, needs work that's fulfilling, and must have more life balance than work balance.

The first strategy is to know your workforce demographics. If your facility participates in the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® RN survey, your demographic data are readily available. Understanding your data will help you develop a succession plan, as well as strategic plans for possible changes in employee benefits and work options.

Next, implement educational programs at all levels within your organization. Start with your leadership team so they understand the generational differences and how to effectively model coaching, motivating, communicating, and resolving conflict. After your leadership team is well-equipped with an in-depth knowledge of the generational differences, they'll be able to facilitate the multigenerational workforce educational programs throughout the organization.

In today's work environment, understanding the generational differences and becoming an expert in creating an environment where all three generations feel valued for their contributions are must-dos.

Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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