Becoming a nurse manager is a step on the clinical ladder that many nurses hope to achieve. When leading and managing a group of nurses and ancillary staff, certain managerial traits can help boost morale, encourage teamwork, and keep staff engaged.

Identify Your Leadership Style

First, nurse managers should recognize the type of leader they are. Do they demonstrate "laissez-faire" traits, with minimal supervising taking place? Are they autocratic, making decisions that affect the group without staff input? Or participative, allowing staff to contribute to the decision-making process? There are many types of leaders, and many combinations, but a nurse manager should identify which type of leader he/she is. This will help develop strategies when interacting with the team.

For the most part, a more participative style works well in motivating staff. Allowing the staff to contribute ideas and methods to achieve goals boosts morale and fosters a "team" approach. For example, holding a staff meeting to try and find ways to reduce patient falls allows nurses on the front lines to suggest practical interventions that would work within that particular work environment.

Set Goals

Another tip is to set clear goals for the unit. Identifying departmental goals that align organizational goals (while involving staff) promotes teamwork. Clear goals also prevent confusion in day-to-day operations. For example, let's say the organization values reducing wasted supplies. The nurse manager, along with staff, can develop strategies to reduce waste at the departmental level, such as only keeping a certain amount of supplies in stock to avoid them outdating. The manager can implement a "rule" that only ten lab tubes are to be kept in each exam room at a time.

Promote Open Communication

Successful nurse managers also foster open communication among peers and with management. An "open-door" policy works well to build trust and keep the lines of communication open. It demonstrates a genuine interest in staff and encourages nurses to verbalize concerns. When staff approach managers with issues, it keeps them apprised of the goings-on on the unit and which concerns are the most important among the group.

Provide Feedback

Nurse managers should also provide ongoing feedback to staff. Regular one on one meetings allow the manager to build a relationship with each employee, and allows for staff to bring up concerns confidentially. It also helps keep the employee apprised of his/her performance. Regular staff meetings also help bring the group together and promote cohesiveness.

Demonstrate Respect

Nurse managers should also treat staff with respect. Recognizing that each staff member is an individual, come from different backgrounds, and bring different qualities to the table is the first step. Nurse managers should always keep employee success in mind. For example, if a staff member is not performing well, the nurse manager should offer tools for success, not berate or speak rudely about the deficient performance. Giving respect often yields respect.

Consider Teambuilding Activities

Nursing is a stressful field. Working with the same group of people every day in a stressful environment can lead to conflict. Organizing team building activities helps staff blow off steam in a healthy manner. Having a department-specific holiday party, summer picnic, cookie exchange, etc. are just a few things that help promote teamwork while having fun.

Know You're Not Perfect, Either

Nurse managers are people, and people make mistakes. As a leader, it's difficult when you make a mistake as you are a resource for so many employees. Some look at it as a sign of weakness. It's vital that, as a manager, you recognize your own limitations and errors and use it as a tool to improve for the future. Taking responsibility for errors also helps foster a positive example for employees-perhaps more employees will report errors as well.

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