Unhappy Nurse Manager--HELP!

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    I have been a critical care nurse for 8 years and recently took a nurse manager position at a surgery center. The staff that has been working there for several years are unprofessional, unethical, gossip, backstab, and do little work. I have been working with them for months to improve. They do OK for a couple of weeks and then go back to their old ways, to include undermining me with other physicians and employees--making it extremely difficult for staff to take me seriously. I have met with the physician/owners and they don't want me to fire anyone. By the way, they have gone through nurse managers every couple of years for the same reasons. I love a challenge and know I can make positive changes here, but how do I do it without getting the staff to either change, or let them go???
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  3. 13 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    Nothing is going to change until the staff learns that you mean business. If this means terminating someone to get the attention of that person and the others, then that is going to be what it takes. If your management will support you in termination(s), then proceed if you feel that that is what must be done. Good luck in turning this around.
    Butterfly62 likes this.
  5. 4
    The power of the schedule is a powerful tool. Schedule the worst of the lot on seperate shifts, so there is less opportunity for them to scheme together. Also, check their hiring status (full time, part time, PRN, etc.). For instance, if someone has been working 40 hours a week but was hired on as part time, a few weeks of 20 hours a week will either "encourage" them to find other employment or shape up. If nothing else, if they are working fewer hours, they have less time at work to drive you nuts!
    kreaglin100, Butterfly62, caliotter3, and 1 other like this.
  6. 1
    I worked at a place that was falling apart. The licensed nurses were quitting one by one. Both the DON and administrator left near the same time to go to another facility. Our ADON was holding down the fort, but in reality the DSD was running the show outright instead of behind the scenes like she usually did. Eventually a new DON came on board. Guess how she got rid of the DSD? Her hours were cut in stages until it was no longer worth it to drive the 45 miles from her home. She got the message and quit and the DON put in someone she wanted. Cutting hours does wonders for getting rid of people. It is the next best thing to firing them outright.
    Butterfly62 likes this.
  7. 1
    hmmm. i think i have the same nurses working for me!!!
    my boss wanted me to fire them all when i came on 2 yrs ago.
    we have increased the workload (and pay) and everyone we thought was going to quit has decided to stay
    so i get to deal with the games. i write them up and theyre better for a whilethen back to old ways. frustrating!!!
    Butterfly62 likes this.
  8. 0
    Unfortunately, I work in a place where everyone works pretty much the same hours (ambulatory surgery; day hours only). So, I have the same staff every day. I've cut the hours where I could but, actually, the FT staff are doing most of the damage. I'm frustrated beyond belief!
  9. 0
    I sympathize with you as I have been in the same boat. I know that you need to talk to your owners/Board members and have them give you permission to give everyone a written warning with their (the owners)signatures supporting you, and then find the "ringleader" (there is always one), and terminate him/her. You may need to work in that position until you replace the one you have terminated. Once the ringleader is gone, and you show them you are willing to work in that spot until you find a replacement, they will know they too could be next. Be firm, always professional, and show them you mean business, and I think you will see a turn around. Good luck.
  10. 0
    Change is never easy, and is particularly difficult to implement as an "outsider" or a "newbie".

    I suggest you find some good solid literature on effecting change. Business publications (especially management) are an excellent source for information on the psychology and strategies of change.

    In a nutshell, I think you have 2 options: accept that your place of employment may never improve because of the lack of interest and support of the owners, or consider finding positive ways to bring about change. I don't think that punitive measures will work. These employees have been around long enough to know that managers come and go with regularity. They can and will outlast you if this turns into a battle of wills. Is there anyone who you believe supports your efforts to improve professionalism who may be willing to back your efforts, lead by example and "recruit" other staff members? This will be a long, slow process, but hopefully resistant staff members will eventually be pressured into performing or leaving.

    Good luck to you
  11. 0
    Thank you for your response. I did get to the 'ringleader' and FINALLY got the owners on board and they are now supporting me (after many tears and frustration). The ringleader has been addressed and has made improvements, although I think her ability to improve will only go so far because her personality is set where it is. I recently held a staff meeting to cover the rules, expectations, and code of ethics and it was a disaster with me being held responsible for other people's problems (i.e., my own staff's problems). They understand now that I hold them accountable for what they say/do as well as anyone else, to include myself and the docs. Things are much better lately, but I hope it's not just because it's the holidays. The new year will set the tone and I will tweak as necessary. Thanks for your great advice. It was extremely helpful!
  12. 0
    Thanks for your response. I did finally get the most difficult owner to listen to me and respond. He has an "in' with my staff and is very close to them. He was able to convince them to get on board and remind the staff that frequently going through nurse managers was no longer acceptable and things needed to improve dramatically. This was a very difficult process, but well worth it. I think things will get better. We may have some setbacks, but I'm hopeful! Thank you all for your great advice and Happy Holidays!


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