Nursing

Tips to help new staff nurses communicate with their managers

Nurse Leader Insider, June 11, 2007

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Following is an excerpt from HCPro's book Stressed Out About Communication Skills, available in July. The book is tailored to new staff nurses, who can find additional information and advice on our new Web site for student and new nurses, www.stressedoutnurses.com.

Everybody walks into new situations with a set of expectations that they form from past experiences. But nursing students' exposure to nursing managers is usually extremely minimal during clinical rotations. How do you know if your expectations are too high or too low? Having a realistic set of expectations will set you up to succeed in communicating with your manager.

Professional behaviors: What can I expect?

  • To be treated with respect at all times by your manager and your coworkers. More specifically, this means that all conversations about your accountability and behavior will be held in private. The tone of voice from your manager is consistently respectful. You are not just a cog in the great wheel of healthcare, but an appreciated member of the healthcare team.
  • A nonjudgmental attitude. To be given a fair chance to tell your side of the story. Because your manager genuinely believes in you, he or she will want nothing more than to hear and understand every detail of any event from your point of view.
  • To feel supported. You feel your manager will come to your rescue when you have been falsely accused or when you need help-that he or she will uphold your reputation and defend your actions.
  • To be free to express yourself without retaliation. You feel that it is psychologically safe to bring up any issue. You look forward to bringing up concerns during staff meetings, knowing that the focus will be on trying to find a workable solution. You feel safe disagreeing with a topic, knowing that your opinion is encouraged and valued.

Professional behaviors: What can I do to help?

  • Make every attempt to make an appointment to speak with your manager. The best time is before your shift starts-during the shift is too stressful and after the shift you are often tired and not at your best.
  • Always speak up about things that matter to you and to your manager. Silence is not golden. It is an old myth that if you speak up, you are a troublemaker. Your speaking up about an issue gives your manager the opportunity to fix it.
  • Don't approach the manager on "hearsay" ("he said, she said" gossip). Check out the story yourself first (and the only person you can check it out with is the person involved). Validate the problem.



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