October 05, 2008 | | Comments 3
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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?

Entry Information

Filed Under: Care for the caregiver


About the Author: This post was compiled by members of the Strategies for Nurse Managers staff.

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  1. I think your experiences as a manager definitely show a maturation over time. It is easy for the new manager to be “by the book” because the responsibility for the decision is lifted. However,
    taking into account those special situations makes you more of a leader and definitely more human.

    I found Bruce Tulgan’s book, “It’s Okay to be the Boss,” an exceptional handbook for the new manager. He suggested, “Make a point of talking with your best people to find out what they
    really want or need —whether it’s a special deal or a small accommodation. If you can fulfill a special want or need, you will be doing something especially valuable for that person.” This gives
    you many carrots for managing your people!

    When we as managers have circumstances that can’t be adapted or changed, if we’re willing to jump through hoops, bend over backward, and go to bat for what we need, we often find we
    get the resources we need and make the deal with our nurses we never thought possible.

    What you’re doing is simply creating the best environment for nurses to work in. You will reap the rewards of retention (always a big issue), improved morale (my manager understands I
    have a life outside the hospital), and recruitment (as word of mouth gets out that your unit is a super place to work). This is fabulous advice for any manager.

  2. It is common for new managers to have problems in this area. Either they swing too far to the left or they are very tight and follow the rules to a “T”. The desire to succeed without the proper training, preparation and mentorship can create an environment that is not good for either the staff or the manager.
    Moderation with a sprinkle of detachment and dash of unbiased opinion will get you much further.

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