RSSAuthor Archive for Bonnie Clair

Bonnie Clair

Bonnie Clair, MSN, RN currently works as Retention Project Manager at CoxHealth in Springfield, MO. Her clinical background includes nursing management, nursing education administration and neonatal flight team. Her bedside nursing experience is comprised of Med Surg, NeuroScience and 15 years in the NICU. She has facilitated development and implementation of a clinical ladder for staff RNs and worked on a steering committee to implement Shared Governance in her health system. Other recent projects include designating parking spaces close to the hospital for pregnant staff and organizing a bi-monthly reunion event for employees reaching their 90th day of employment. She is passionate about nurse retention and relevant nursing education. You may contact her at

It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Peter Druker, often called the Father of Modern Management, made the following observation, “We spend a lot of time teaching managers what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching them what to stop. Half the leaders I’ve met don’t need to learn what to do – they need to learn what to stop.” We simply need to adjust our perspective.

Keeping that in mind, an executive coach named Marshall Goldsmith wrote a book in 2007 called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: 20 Workplace Habits You Need To Break. I recommend this book for your Fall reading list! It’s a chapter by chapter in-depth look at each of the 20 habits we should get rid of as we advance in workplace leadership. Goldsmith offers numerous stories from his own career and his executive coaching experiences to illustrate each habit and keep the content ‘moving along’.

Here is the list of 20 habits. Interestingly, they’re not reflective of a flaw in managerial skills. Nor do these habits reflect a shortcoming in intelligence or a personality flaw. All of them are indicative of challenges in interpersonal behavior. It may take reading the books’ descriptions to gain the right perspective and apply it to your own leadership skill mix, but here they are for your consideration:

  1. Winning too much
  2. Adding too much value
  3. Passing judgment
  4. Making destructive comments
  5. Starting with “No”, “But”, or “However”
  6. Telling the world how smart we are
  7. Speaking when angry
  8. “Let me explain why that won’t work…”
  9. Withholding information
  10. Failing to give proper recognition
  11. Claiming credit we don’t deserve
  12. Making excuses
  13. Clinging to the past
  14. Playing favorites
  15. Refusing to express regret
  16. Not listening
  17. Failing to express gratitude
  18. Punishing the messenger
  19. Passing the buck
  20. An excessive need to be “me”

Goldsmith, M. (2007). What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: 20 Workplace Habits You Need To Break. Hyperion: NYC.

    Re-Recruiting for Retention!

    A national survey done by Kepner-Tregow (a Princeton-based management consulting firm) found only 40% of workers feel adequately recognized at work, yet it’s been estimated that U. S. companies spend ~ $18 billion annually for recognition incentives (Ventrice, 2003). Apparently employees desire something different from what their organization offers.

    An excellent form of recognition is “re-recruitment”, an easy activity for any leader to accomplish. Here are some tips on how to accomplish it:

    1. Think about your best staff member. Now imagine he or she is coming to see you today. What would you do or say if he said he was leaving? Do those things anyway.

    2. When you’re in the unit chatting with your staff, periodically ask questions such as, “If you could make any changes about your job, what would they be?”, or “What things about your  job do you hope never change?” Another excellent question to ask is, “What makes for a great day?”

    3. Use 30 / 60 / 90 day retention interviews. These face-to-face meetings help solidify retention of your newest staff members. Ask if the job is what they expected from the interview. Also ask if they’ve noted anything that could be done better – new eyes always have keen perspective, plus you may gain an improved way to accomplish something you’ve been struggling with! Finally, ask what has been the greatest and most frustrating thing they’ve discovered. Use their positive comments to give KUDOs to staff who are doing a great job and their frustrating situations to make changes.

    Remember, in the current competitive employment environment, other employers are interested in recruiting your best people! The best retention strategy is to re-recruit them yourself and beat the competition to the punch!

    Ventrice, C. (2003) Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works. Berrett-Koehler: San Francisco

    Strategize Now To Minimize Economic Effects

    Greg Smith is a motivational and leadership speaker, and a management consultant. Greg is CEO of Chart Your Course International in Atlanta. He has published several books and articles about employee engagement and retention.

    I was reading a blog by Greg regarding the current state of the economy and how surprising it is that some leaders simply hope things will turn around instead of strategizing ways to minimize or eliminate the effect the economy can have on employee retention. Here are 6 things to consider:

    1. Assess your talent.
    What can be done to improve staff’s skills your department needs in the current economy?

    2. Work on employee engagement.
    Do you have a way to capture your staff’s ideas and suggestions?

    3. Build closer relationships with customers.
    Do you know what your patients & families really want from your department?

    4. Evaluate your department’s culture.
    Is it focused on agility & flexibility? Is the vision statement relevant to your staff?

    5. Build trust among staff.
    What can you do to improve communication? Does your staff trust upper management?

    6. Retain your superstars.
    Do you have established retention plans for the people you know you need to keep?

    Based on Have You Lost Your Way? Six things You Need To Do Now. Smith, G. (2009)

    By the way, you can sign up for Greg’s FREE Navigator newsletter (full of timely tips) here:
    Just scroll to the bottom of the page.

    Recognize the Everyday Stuff Too!

    Quint Studer, a well known healthcare leader who has led hospitals to breakthrough results, is a huge proponent of consistent and frequent employee recognition. One point Studer repeatedly makes in his publications is that many leaders never grasp hold of how vital recognitiofirst-place-ribbonn really is to employee morale.

    Here is a sampling of Studer’s argument for giving compliments to staff, from Results That Last (2008): “So why don’t we give more compliments? For one thing, you’ve got to really watch for what someone is doing right and most of us haven’t mastered that art … leaders need to develop the skill sets for noticing incremental improvement because rewarded and recognized behavior gets repeated.” (p. 217).

    Sometimes it helps us recognize best practice if we examine the flip side, what Studer calls “myths.” This is Studer’s list of common myths and excuses often cited for not giving staff compliments. Maybe you’ve heard some of them:

    • “If I compliment them too much, they’ll get a big head”
    • “If I tell them they’ve done a good job, they’ll get complacent”
    • “I don’t need any compliments – why should they?”
    • “They should just be happy with a day’s work for a day’s pay – in fact, they should be grateful to have a job at all!”
    • “I can give out only so many compliments in a week.”
    • “This is hokey”
    • (And my all-time favorite) “That’s just fluff-stuff”

    Studer says it’s okay if we feel uncomfortable as we begin to recognize and compliment staff. Like the Nike slogan says, Just Do It … and know that it will feel more natural with time. Remember,  recognized behavior gets repeated.

    Studer, Q. (2008). Results That Last. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, Inc.

    Quick Retention Tips!


    1. Your Laughter is contagious – let them hear you roar! Good moods affect others in a positive way and bad moods infect others negatively. (From Love ’em or Lose ’em!)


    2. The more information you put into your brain, the more likely you are to come up with new ideas! Continue your own learning journey by attending at least one conference a year. [more]


    In the current thrust for ANCC Magnet Recognition Program

    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

    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

    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).

    No crisis zone!

    Do you have a small space from which you can create a relaxing nook for your staff? It may be just a corner of your break room or one end of your locker room. Designate that space as your unit’s relaxing nook.You could even make up a catchy name for it:

    No Crisis Zone! Radiology Rejuvination Area! My Space!

    Don’t allow phone calls in the space. Ask staff if anyone has an old lazy-boy recliner they’d donate. Also, see if anyone has a magazine rack they’d like to donate. Have staff bring in magazines after they’ve read them. Or inspiring, pick-me-up books that can be read quickly, like the Chicken Soup series.

    How about a poster or two for the space? A lamp? A couple of throw pillows? A CD player with earphones? A tabletop battery operated rippling water fountain? A kitchen timer so no one accidently goes over their allotted break time?

    We all know we’re more productive when we take a few moments to re-group, yet so often we run from crisis to crisis and never take that opportunity. Think of our staffs, and the number of crises they manage daily. Would they benefit from a small nook designated entirely to replenishing their soul for a few moments? Would our patients benefit?

    “It appears that the techniques which have the greatest motivational impact are practiced the least, even though they are easier and less expensive to use.”
    – Dr. Gerald Graham, distinguished Professor of Management; Wichita State University