Ask the expert: Using performance evaluations to promote healthy communication

Nurse Leader Insider, May 30, 2011

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This week, Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN, discuss ways to use performance evaluations to decrease nurse-to-nurse hostility and foster a healthy work environment.

Q: How can nurse managers use performance evaluations to enhance healthy communication among their staff?

A: It is not easy to change a culture. At times, it feels like I’m swimming against a strong current. I can get pretty maudlin and discouraged trying to decrease hostility and build a healthy work environment. The moments that rejuvenate me, however, are the precious conversations I have with staff—in just one meaningful interaction with a staff member, I realize again that we are all caught in this undertow of emotions. Every day, the pressures of our job and horizontal hostility take our profession way off course. I once asked a peer how she was coping with the increased workload, hoping to hear some solutions I could apply myself. “I ask staff to fill out their own performance evaluations, and then I just sign them. I don’t have time to meet with them,” she said. I was really concerned. Had the demands of our jobs gotten to the point that we could not have just one conversation a year with our staff?

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