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Experiences With Managing the Workplace Social Environment

A Qualitative Study

Price, Sheri L. PhD, RN; Vine, Jocelyn CHE, MHS, RN; Gurnham, Mary Ellen MScN, RN; Paynter, Martha MSc, RN; Leiter, Michael PhD, RN

JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: November 2019 - Volume 49 - Issue 11 - p 569–573
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000813

OBJECTIVE This study aims to examine 1st-line managers' (FLMs') experiences in managing the workplace social environment (WSE).

BACKGROUND FLMs are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of supportive WSE essential for effective teamwork. Poorly managed WSE and dysfunctional teams hold negative implications for patients, teams, and organizations.

METHODS This was a qualitative descriptive study, using content analysis of individual and focus group interviews with FLMs and directors.

RESULTS FLMs play a critical role in the management of the WSE; however, the task is fraught with constraints and challenges including competing demands, lack of support, and insufficient training. Findings explicate how competing demands and communication challenges impede the successful management of the WSE.

CONCLUSIONS Given the importance of a healthy WSE to patient, professional, and organizational outcomes, FLMs need support, training, and resources to assist them in managing the social environment alongside other competing priorities.

Author Affiliations: Associate Professor (Dr Price), School of Nursing, Dalhousie University; Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nurse Executive (Ms Vine), IWK Health Centre; Senior Director, Interprofessional Practice and Learning (Ms Gurnham), Nova Scotia Health Authority; and PhD in Nursing Student (Ms Paynter), School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; and Professor of Industrial and Organisational Psychology (Dr Leiter), Faculty of Health, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia.

This project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, grant PHE-114118.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Price, Room 122, Forrest Bldg, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, 5869 University Ave, PO Box 15000, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2 (

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