The quality of a nurse manager determines the running of the department or ward, and, crucially, the care of the patient. A good manager is most apparent in the smooth running of the care setting and good morale of the staff. A poor manager will foster a lack of confidence, and this may even result in a high turnover of staff. A nursing manager who does not have a good grasp of the day-to-day care given to all patients will not be able to intervene if standards are not being met.
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Communication skills are at the core of good management. A nurse manager who is unable or unwilling to communicate with her team will not run a successful department. Staff will not feel they can speak to a nurse manager who is unapproachable. This will result in problems escalating and having to be dealt with when they have reached crisis point. Sometimes, the most junior nurse, or nursing assistant may notice a small change in a patient's condition, or responses. She should feel able to report this to the manager and be sure that she will be listened to.
A nurse manager must be able to motivate staff, to ensure that they enjoy coming to work and doing a good job. A manager who is, herself, unmotivated will inevitably pass this attitude on to staff. Managers should give praise and acknowledge achievements. Nursing can be a very stressful job, where life-and-death situations have to be confronted. Job satisfaction comes from the nurse knowing she has helped the patients, but acknowledgement should also come from the nurse manager.
Some nurse managers are not good at delegating. They may feel that the only way of ensuring a job is done, is to do it themselves. But, trusting in others and allowing them to develop, is a very important part of management. Inability to do so can lead other staff to feel limited and frustrated. They may eventually become unmotivated. Many care settings use a key worker system where qualified staff are responsible for the care of particular patients. This allows a certain amount of autonomy, within limits. A good nurse manager is always aware of how each group of patients are progressing.
It is really difficult to be a good nurse manager and also be disorganised. Much time can be lost chasing pieces of paper, and reports. This will result in delays and cause other team members to become frustrated. When a manager is dealing with people's lives, lack of organizational skills can lead to endangering patients. Poor organizational skills lead also to a lack of confidence in the manager. Junior nurses learn a lot from observing how the nurse manager operates, and poor organizational skills do not set a good example.
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