RSSArchive for September, 2008

Engaging the unengageable

by Deanna Miller, RN, MSN/Ed, HCE

As managers we often hear the terms “engagement” and “employee satisfaction” interchangeably. Even though you are a great manager and truly care about your staff it is often difficult to get them motivated and engaged in what they are doing. I was off on leave for about a month and during that time period I continuously brainstormed to come up with interventions to “get them engaged.”

Here are my secrets to successful engagement….please share yours.

1. Eat lunch with your staff with an “anything goes conversation.” (They love seeing that even the manager is human…it has proved to be a blast)

2. Plan an outing away from the facility. (I have planned an early dinner at a nearby lodge on two consecutive Fridays so that everyone can come regardless of scheduling. Budget for special events)

3. When they bring concerns, work related or personal, listen to them and make great eye contact. Always keep those personal conversations confidential.

Get your facility into debate mode

p>by Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN

Most of your staff members are probably keeping an ear tuned to the presidential prospects for the upcoming election. With this is mind, many will be listening to and watching the debates between both the presidential and vice presidential hopefuls. This is a wonderful opportunity for nurse leaders to take advantage of the debate and relate to the workplace.

The structured debate can serve as a springboard for initiating change, implementing evidence-based practices, or even defining unacceptable behaviors for a department. When staff have a chance to hear the pros and cons, as they do in a debate, they learn how to validate their needs. A controlled, professional, yet fun, environment of presenting both sides is what the debate process has to offer. Examples include debating changes in holiday scheduling, or how patients are assigned.

To get into the debate mode, start with these steps:

1. Provide the staff a list of current practice issues and have them vote on the two issues of greatest concern to them
2. Post the date you will be holding the debate (in place of a staff meeting) in emails, on bulletin boards, or both
3. Invite someone from fiscal services and administration to evaluate the debate
4. Display a poster of five keys to effective debates for one week
5. Post Web sites where staff can learn more about debating, such as
6. Have staff select one peer who will oversee/facilitate the debate and develop the ground rules for the debate
7. Provide a debate worksheet to get them started

What are some other ways to engage staff in the debate process?</p

Legislative lessons from school

Many of you have been following my intermittent posts on my journey, at the age of 54, to pursue my MSN degree. In just a few weeks, I will have completed course No. 4 on healthcare delivery systems. One of our assignments was to interview a person in a legislative position and discuss the many facets of his or her role as it relates to how healthcare is delivered to his or her constituents. The legislator I selected happened to also be a family practice doctor. I just couldn’t resist. Oh sure, I could have picked a female legislator, or one whose name has been in a headline more often than deserved, but not me. I went straight for the jugular-a doctor who is my state rep, which brought me to an interview that was more of one as a constituent that that of a master’s level student.

The interview was a grand opportunity to better understand not only how the state process works, but how and why many decisions are made regarding healthcare bills. In the state of Tennessee, our legislature had been handed a bill that would make it optional for adults to wear helmets on motorcycles. Being an ED nurse, I am sure you can guess what my vote would have been on this! This motorcycle-riding physician, father, and state legislature felt otherwise. He strongly felt his job was to represent all of his constituents who wanted the helmet option. We agreed to disagree on this issue and I left the interview feeling our county/district was in good hands.

As we look to the last quarter of this year, by the end of December, I will be halfway through the program. I feel like my brain is packed with so much information, I will have to upload more GB to store any new lessons for 2009!

Are you still wrestling with whether or not you should go back to school? Are you having an argument with yourself over what to specialize in?

Take notecards to a new level!

You’ve made your new staff member feel welcome, and are almost ready for his/her 90 day evaluation. How about writing a SO GLAD YOU’RE HERE note card, signed by you and your charge nurses? Or, can you scan a picture of their preceptor(s) or shift peers to the inside of the card? How about having the entire team sign the card and present it at a staff meeting?

Kick it up a Notch:
Send a handwritten note to the employee’s family and/or their spouse/significant other! I once had a director who sent a holiday card to my home (it was near my 90 days in the department). She included a note specifically to my husband. She knew his name and included several compliments about my performance, and thanked him for “loaning” me to the department for 40 hours a week.


Both my husband and I were so impressed! I highly recommend this as a retention tool; I still work for that director!

What ideas for retaining staff at their 90 day evaluation have YOU implemented?

Excellent Quote:
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take the fear out of performance reviews

Nurse managers and staff communicate effectively every shift, about a number of topics, and usually with little anxiety. But put staff performance up for discussion and the tension rises.

Performance reviews are critical to staff development; therefore nurse managers need to know how to minimize this tension and make them as productive as possible. To conduct the most effective and painless performance reviews, follow these tips:

Remove the shock. The feedback given in a performance review shouldn’t be a surprise. Make sure you communicate and provide staff members with constructive criticism throughout the year, instead of springing it on them all at once. Also, never miss an opportunity to let staff know when they set a positive example for your facility. For example, if you notice a staff member has done well during the past few months, pull him or her aside and tell them how much their good work is appreciated. In doing so, you will minimize the chance of the employee getting defensive when you discuss areas that need improvement and they will know their hard work is not going unnoticed.

Give them time. Performance reviews are most effective when both the nurse manager and the staff member prepare for them. Inform employees of their performance evaluation at least two weeks ahead of time so they can organize their own materials, such as an informal evaluation of their performance or a list of goals they wish to achieve in the future. Employees will arrive for their review collected and more open to discussion.

How do you reduce staff anxiety during performance reviews?

Read more tips on conducting performance reviews.

Make it fun … and improve your environment!

This is a practical idea that can easily be implemented in any unit:

Who is your one staff member who LOVES taking pictures (it seems every unit has at least one!). Ask him or her to take candid digital shots of staff (but be careful to avoid patient faces). Print photos that are large enough to be seen from a distancea mix of 8×10 and 11×14 works well. Purchase an assortment of frames that complement each other. Check craft and hobby stores, larger chain stores, or perhaps you can ask your corporate buyer to suggest an approved vendor.

Hang the pictures in a collage design in your departmentNOT in the staff break room. The idea is to choose a wall easily seen. You want your patients and visitors to know this is a great place to work. You want potential employees to know your department takes pride in recognizing each other. And you want your staff to feel celebrated and appreciated.

Periodically rotate the photos so newer staff members have as much “exposure” as the old timers!

What are some other ways to celebrate and appreciate staff?

And lastly, here is an interesting thought to ponder:
“Three people were working at a construction site. All were doing the very same job, but when each was asked, “What is your job?,” their answers varied. “Breaking rocks,” the first one said. “Earning my living,” said the second one. The third person said, “I’m helping to build a cathedral.”

(Peter Schultz, former CEO, Porsche; as cited in 1001 Ways To take Initiative At Work).