RSSArchive for October, 2008

Use surveys to motivate your staff

Motivating staff is not a once-a-month or quarterly item on a manager’s to-do list. It is a process that requires constant grooming on your part. Understanding that what motivates one person does not necessarily motivate another is a fundamental aspect of your efforts. Setting realistic goals for your motivation efforts keeps the manager from making assumptions about what does and does not work Variety is the key to success and your willingness to incorporate a buffet of motivational strategies will result in positive behaviors.

So, how does a manager know what to put on this buffet table of prompters? Ask your staff!

You can do this through a brief email or survey. Consider these questions for your survey:

  • What motivator was used at a previous job that would encourage you to become more actively involved in change at this job?
  • Which of the following would you include in your top three motivators?
    • Understanding not just what is being asked of me, but why it is important enough for me to care
    • Points toward a higher level as a staff nurse which would result in an increase in pay
    • Knowing my involvement improves patient care
    • Knowing my involvement improves our working conditions
    • Certificates to use as money in the gift shop or cafeteria
    • Knowing my manager is holding my co-workers accountable when necessary

What questions would you add to this list? Have you done a similar survey in the past and, if so, how did the results help you as a manager?


In the current thrust for ANCC Magnet Recognition Program

Quality improvement through auditing

by Deanna Miller, RN, MSN/Ed, HCE

Okay, so as managers we all know what audits are and what data collection means. We audit the charts, we collect the data and we graph the statistics. Where is this really getting us? After we analyze what we have collected we recognize areas that need improvement and then we relay this message to our staff along with a plan. Sounds great, but does it really work?

Recently, I have given a couple of my nurses “paper days” and provided them with the audit tools so that they could audit and collect the data. It was astonishing to see them come to me with eyes and mouths wide open. “I didn’t realize that we had such a problem.” “Oh my gosh, does anyone chart anything?” These are just a couple of the responses. My next step was to have them develop an improvement plan. The results have been incredible…..

Try it…it really does work.

Calming the hysterical

by Deanna Miller, RN, MSN/Ed, HCE

The other day I was spending much of my time out on my Medical Surgical unit because of an increase in census and acuity. As I was walking down the hallway one of my seasoned RN’s approached me with eyes bugging from her head and the fear of the unknown on her face. Before she could say a word I asked her, “What’s wrong?” As she wiped the beads of sweat from her brow she stated, “I have been trying to get that PCA pump to work for the past half hour and I just can’t get it to infuse.” She was frustrated, agitated and I knew that the patient was having to observe this during her entire time of troubleshooting that darn PCA pump.

I asked the RN to remove the pump from the room and bring it to the medication room so that we could trouble shoot together. She obtained the pump and we did work it out. My words of wisdom were these; if you are having difficulty with a piece of technical equipment in a patient’s room and you are not able to resolve the problem quickly, sometimes it is good judgment to remove the equipment from the room, if you are able. Work on it in another area. Reason: Your frustration may be perceived by the patient as hostility, lack of knowledge or frustration. You can also take a minute and get a cold beverage……Have any of you experienced the same?

Showcasing nurses as a retention strategy!

As managers, we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to recognize our staff – – but we’re also in a constant budgetary constraint . By looking for situations in which we can showcase our staff, we may be able to provide a form of recognition for those nurses who enjoy the public eye, while helping our organization with recruitment at the same time!

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • The next time your unit has something to report on in your Deaprtment Head meeting (most organizations have these at least once a month), have 2 or 3 staff members get up to present your data.
  • Does your cluster have any type of “Huddles” or “Management Meetings”? This is another grand opportunity for staff to present information!
  • Are you currently experiencing a staffing crunch? How about sending one of your RNs to a job fair or a College Career Day with your organization’s Nurse Recruiter? No one can sell your unit to potential applicants like a nurse who works there!
  • Most everyone is familiar with the strategy of beginning staff meetings with a recent “positive story” or compliment received. How much more of a positive impact would this have if presented by a nursing peer? Or one of your care assistants or unit secretaries?


Excellent Quote to Ponder…
“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality – – and then there are those who turn one into the other.”
~ Douglas Everett; Canadian Attorney and Senator

Managing those “special” requests

by Deanna Miller, RN, MSN/Ed, HCE

We have all had our staff come to us because of a special need or request. Perhaps they need a day off for an event or opportunity that could not be planned ahead of time. Maybe their child is ill and needs to be taken to the doctors, or the parent of a staff nurse’s boyfriend dies and it is not covered under the facilities bereavement policy. How do you handle these. When I was a new manager I can remember not making any exception and following the “rules” to the T. Over the years I have learned that, just as in nursing practice, I must think outside the box when handling the personal issues also. Here are my decision process steps for those personal requests:

  • I first place myself in the shoes of the requester. How would I feel if I were in their predicament.
  • Is it a “Once in a Lifetime” opportunity?
  • Will saying no have a negative affect on the emotional or physical well-being of the requestor or their loved ones?
  • How will it affect my unit if they are absent and do I have alternative to replace them during their absence.

Having a heart and being fair exposes the “human” side of you. This helps to gain trust and comradery. How do you handle the special requests of your staff?

Promoting evidence-based nursing practice

by Deanna Miller, RN, MSN/Ed, HCE

Recently I discovered that some of my nursing staff had decided that they would no longer utilize filter tubing with central lines. Because the facility policy did not state “to use” or “not to use,” I could not refer them to policy as a directive or a guideline. There were other staff nurses that were fit to be tied because of the non-use. The debate began. My final words were these: “Bring me the evidence that states “to use” or “not to use” and we will make the determination together.

I am a huge proponent of autonomy but weeks went by without any evidence being provided to me. This had to be settled once and for all. I finally contacted an acquaintance from the Nursing Infusion Society who was able to give me the information and the “Evidence” that I needed. I then provided the information to my staff nurses. They were astonished that this type of information could actually be found so easily and it triggered their curiosity. My plan is to challenge them weekly with a question to be answered with “Evidence.” If you can give me the evidence, we can change the practice …

How do you get your staff involved in EBP? Share your ideas.