New NM need advice

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    Hi everone, I just accepted a position at a correctional facility as a nurse manager. I worked as a unit manager in long term and also a charge nurse but never an "official" nurse manager. I have been working in corrections per diem for 5 years.
    I know there is a lot of work to be done at my new place, administration made sure I understood that the place had to be "straightened out." The last manager was fired and apparently she just let everything slide and wasnt very professional. I was told a few times that the evening shift is usually where all te problems happen, a lot of people being very late, staff just not doing their job. They even suggested I do spot checks at night to catch people sleeping... I just wanted to ask for any advice on how to transition to the new role and what would be the best way to approach the problematic shifts (and individuals) Any general advice for a young, new nurse manager would be appreciated!!!
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  4. 7 Comments so far...

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    You sound like you have landed a management position, where it is your first official one and there is a lot at stake due to the politics that might be going on in your facility. I have no advice, but I want to congratulate you on finally landing an official management position!

    I will be watching this thread since I might be in a similar situation soon.... Wishing you the best of luck as well as some really good advice on keeping your job and making the necessary changes to your department!
  6. 4
    Be omnipresent. Come in at leave at different times.

    At first, Keep your eyes and ears open, mouth shut and see what's up.

    Set up meet and greets with the staff. Tell them your expectations.

    The last manager evidently wasn't doing the job. If you don't tell them, clearly, how they need to behave, they'll claim ignorance. Give them a chance to clean up their acts.

    Some will fly right, others will require your intervention.
    Orca, TriciaJ, ShillaBSN, and 1 other like this.
  7. 4
    Start slow. A typical newbie mistake is to make a lot of changes & 'come down hard' without really understanding how things work. I train managers... and normally advise them not to make any big changes for at least 6 months. Take that time to get to know your staff. It appears that they have been (sorta) doing OK without any effective management for a while, so they can't be that bad, right?

    Make a note of processes or standards that have 'drifted' away from acceptable practice. Investigate a bit to find out why the drift has occurred. Maybe staff feels like they are safe because "everyone does it"; maybe they feel that the standard is unrealistic; maybe they don't have adequate resources, skills or knowledge to perform at the right level. If patient or employee safety is being compromised, you will have to act decisively and quickly.

    Once you have a handle on what needs to be fixed, clearly communicate your expectations to staff - along with declaring "amnesty" for anything that happened in the past. Make sure they know that "From now on" they have to meet the standard. Let them know exactly what will happen if they do not meet the standard.... and be prepared to follow through when your limitations are is tested (they will be). Lather, rinse & repeat.... this will happen time and again because you are dealing with human beings.

    Be the manager you would like to work for. Always assume positive intentions. Never accept hearsay as truth. No one is coming to work to do a bad job. Focus on creating an environment that encourages people to do a better job rather than trying to trap or hunt down the evil-doers. It pays off in the long run and takes a lot less effort.
    PHXRN1, Orca, ShillaBSN, and 1 other like this.
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    Never back down from a crucial conversation. Its probably going to feel like herding cats for a while but you need to hold them to the policies and standards. Once they realize that there is a sheriff in town most will feel comfortable with structure...others will leave but there is such a thing as "good turnover". Most people respond to structure as long as its respectful and consistent.
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    Great advice from previous posters. One more thing: if there is a union, request a meeting with union leadership. Ask them to help familiarize you with the contract so you can maintain compliance. Be frank about the problems with the employees, from the standpoint that other employees have to pick up the slack which is unfair. Present yourself as not adversarial and build a relationship with the union. Then, when you have to discipline or dismiss someone, you will have followed the necessary steps and the union is less likely to give you grief.
    MrChicagoRN likes this.
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    HouTx gives you some excellent advice. I am a correctional DON. I came into a facility that was known systemwide as a place to avoid. When I accepted the job, three people openly questioned my sanity. No one wanted to work here. When my boss briefed me on the situation, one thing became abundantly clear: A significant portion of the issues were the direct result of the attitude at the top, something I could change.

    As HouTx advised you to do, I spent time getting the lay of the land, figuring out what (and who) was working and what wasn't, and then I set out to make gradual changes. I solicited staff input, which the previous manager had not done, so sure was she that she had cornered the market on the only "right" way to do everything. I found out that a lot of the problems led back to the philosophies of my predecessor. People were used to being yelled at and dictated to, and very little respect was shown. The medical department was also at war with pretty much every department in the facility, as her dictatorial ways extended well beyond the boundaries of the medical unit. Instead of coming up with cooperative solutions, her approach with other department heads was pretty much, "We have a problem, and here is what you are going to do to fix it." Other department heads found it incredibly insulting to be talked down to and dictated to by another department head, and understandably so. Once I found this out, I met with each department head and I assured them that if there was an issue of mutual interest, we would sit down together and come up with a solution that we could both live with.

    Employee morale was in the toilet. Staff was used to being yelled at and belittled. The first three weeks I was here no one came in the office, because they were used to only bad things happening in there.

    I have now been in this job for almost seven years. Most of the bad apples have moved on, their opinions and methods no longer finding an audience. We have a strong cooperative working relationship with the other departments and with administration. I have a waiting list for transfers in, which would never have happened when I got here.

    Remember that change, even when it is positive, creates stress. Go gradually and address problems as you find them. You aren't going to fix everything at once - nor should you try to. Trust the people around you, and give them credit for their skills and experience. Solicit employee ideas, and implement the good ones. Show employees proper respect, but make it plain what your expectations are.

    Good luck to you, and welcome to management.
    Last edit by Orca on Mar 6 : Reason: rewording
    ICUman likes this.
  11. 0
    Good luck but I know you can be successful by using team building and assessing your staff.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Mar 15 : Reason: TOS


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