Build alliance and alignment in 2004

Build alliance and alignment in 2004 – Nursing in Focus

June Fabre

Delegation makes you a more effective leader because people learn best by doing. You end up with a large group of autonomous professionals with high levels of expertise.

The result is you, the manager, enjoys the following benefits: high nurse retention and decreased medical errors; significant time-saving that can be used for building positive relationships with staff; more time for strategic planning; high nurse satisfaction and high staff skill base; a positive culture with a sense of community; a high ROI (return on investment) on nurses; and improved public relationships and an openness to lifelong learning Remove these barriers to productivity:

1.) Micromanagement. People lose their incentive for productivity when their manager undermines them.

2.) Unresolved root problems. Staff lose interest in doing their best work when they feel powerless to solve problems that continuously resurface at frequent intervals.

3.) Constant complaining. Spending energy in complaint sessions is contagious, and saps energy needed for more constructive activities.

4.) Inconsistency. When staff are not sure about your reaction, they withhold their potential to “play it safe.” They want fair leaders who follow their published principles.

5.) Distrust. People waste energy when they are anxious about your support and their security.

Involve nurses in strategic planning

Your strategic plan becomes more meaningful when you involve clinical nurses since their work is so crucial to its success. Employees are more effective with plan implementation when they help to develop it. You, the manager, have an added advantage–accessing invaluable talents from within your clinical nursing staff. This raises the value of your strategic plan even higher.

Ways to include nurses in your strategic plan include the following:

1.) Holding focus groups composed of nurses to elucidate valuable nursing perspectives.

2.) Asking for positive and negative feedback regarding your organizational culture, and how it affects nurse productivity.

3.) Reviewing your corporate values. Do you practice these values consistently? Are they compatible with staff values?

4.) Inviting your clinical nurses to share their ideas on nurse recruitment and retention.

5.) Discussing the benefits of all staff members sharing their skills with each other. Give them an incentive.

6.) Aligning nursing with other departments. Different departments have to work together if you want your organization to succeed. This means that no department is more important than another.

7.) Identifying your nurses’ skills in your strategic plan. You should determine: which nurses are cross-trained; what non-clinical skills–such as computer literacy, artistic ability and public speaking skills–are available to you; and how you can best support information sharing.

Reward nurses who are willing to utilize a large number of their skills. Since they are generous with their abilities, it is appropriate for managers to be generous in return.

Cultivate new nurse-leaders with smart delegation

Delegate appropriate authority and responsibility when nurses make suggestions regarding unit improvements. For example, a nurse proposes improvements to the patient handbook for patients’ families. The nurse manager delegates the suggested changes to a staff nurse volunteer. With management support, this nurse has the new handbook ready for use by the following week’s staff meeting. Management support is vital for staff to make timely unit improvements.

Managers promote safety when they delegate some of the non-clinical responsibilities. As a bonus, managers are more likely to experience staff buy-in of the new policies. Clinical nurses who create policies are more likely to follow them.

Some responsibilities that you might want to delegate to your clinical staff include: inviting nurses to be on-unit educators; encouraging them to take responsibility for QA projects; asking nurses to develop and present patient education programs; providing opportunities for nurses to participate in shared governance; and involving nurses in joint projects with other health care organizations.

Quality increases when you involve all of the nurses in unit management. Delegation reduces nurse turnover because staff feel valued. And you develop new leaders for your organization at the same time.

Attract and retain exceptional talent

The best nurses want to work with peers who are similarly interested in excellence. Many times, these exceptional nurses will recruit others just like themselves because they value working in such a positive environment.

Engaging the heart and soul of your staff makes loyalty and productivity possible. One common quality necessary for solid relationships is a sense of trust.

Think about your own life. Who are the people you trust? What attributes do they have that convince you to trust them? Your list may include dependability, sincerity and a caring attitude. The qualities on your list are the qualities that you need to develop in yourself. Talk with other people and ask them what’s on their list. Then develop those qualities too.

Then add the element of time. Most people want to observe your behavior over a period of time to see if you are consistent.

Mutual trust is critical to building partnerships. People are more likely to trust when each side displays a consistent code of ethical behavior. Some people want to improve trust but don’t want to make the first move. Trusting makes us vulnerable. If we have been burned in the past we are reluctant to have it happen again. Restoring trust involves cultivating mutual respect. We need to honor what each side brings to the table.

Choose some of these ideas to strengthen your staff.

Work with your them to apply these ideas, and look forward to future success in 2004.

June Fabre, MBA, RNC, is president of Smart Healthcare LLC. She is a health care speaker, trainer and consultant, who specializes in Smart Nursing Systems, and innovative strategies for nurses, managers and CEOs. You can reach her at (888) 844-8004,, or 18 Nichols Rd, Amherst, NH 03031. Request free information about customized programs designed especially for your organization.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Healthcare Review

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group