Help With Conflict

  1. I am a new Nurse Manager and need advice. Two staff members are at odds with each other. The conflict is dividing the staff and I feel lost. Apparently this situation has been happening for quite some time. What should I do ?
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    About Fitness55

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 2

    8 Comments

  3. by   cardsRN
    not a manager here, but my instict would be to talk to each of them separately and encourage them to work it out. if that does not work, perhaps mediation by HR is necessary. (not sure what type of conflict). if you do take a more active role than ignore it or institute unit wide policies based on 2 staff members problems- bonus points! ignoring problems and avoiding confrontation at all cost rarely helps :spin:
  4. by   muffie
    eap involvement ?
  5. by   justme1972
    If the conflict has been going on for some time, I would probably skip the conversation with them individually, and set up a mediation with HR immediately. I would probably take the position that if they don't like each other, fine (but there may be a valid reason for the conflict) but they can't talk about it at work, explain the impact it is having on the rest of the staff, and they are to stop, up to and including termination. Better to get rid of the source of the problem.

    Just from formerly being in management (not nursing, but another field), if you know the rest of the staff is getting involved in the "drama", which is normal if the two comrads involved are talking about each other to other staff members, make it known that you have a no "gossip" policy and any other staff member that comes to you wanting to discuss the two troublemakers, cut them off, and say, "You need to focus on your own work."

    I feel for you, no manager wants to take a job and walk into conflict.
  6. by   Anagray
    We had the same problem on our large unit. My nurse manager was new, but she was an RN for over 20 years. She ended up firing both of them after giving it al her best.
    It's a really tough situation, because everyone is looking at what you, as a boss, are going to do.

    good luck!
  7. by   Lacie
    Quote from Hopefull2009
    If the conflict has been going on for some time, I would probably skip the conversation with them individually, and set up a mediation with HR immediately. I would probably take the position that if they don't like each other, fine (but there may be a valid reason for the conflict) but they can't talk about it at work, explain the impact it is having on the rest of the staff, and they are to stop, up to and including termination. Better to get rid of the source of the problem.

    Just from formerly being in management (not nursing, but another field), if you know the rest of the staff is getting involved in the "drama", which is normal if the two comrads involved are talking about each other to other staff members, make it known that you have a no "gossip" policy and any other staff member that comes to you wanting to discuss the two troublemakers, cut them off, and say, "You need to focus on your own work."

    I feel for you, no manager wants to take a job and walk into conflict.
    Good advice. Myself I would put them in a room together and say work it out. Get HR to mediate. If it doesnt resolve then start keeping up the paperwork and rid yourself of both of them. If it's affecting the entire unit then it's time to put a sudden stop. Sounds like the previous manager let it go on too long and it's more habit now then anything.
  8. by   TazziRN
    It's not always work-out-able (how's that for a word!). I had a coworker that I could not get along with, despite my best efforts. Repeated visits to the boss did nothing except get me "You need to work it out yourself." I even went so far as to see the hospital psychologist to learn tools on dealing with her. Instead of realizing that nothing was going to fix this situation, the boss had me working with her for 5 of my 6 shifts. (We work two nurses per shift, so I had no one else to deal with.) She ended up getting terminated for another reason, but no one was sad to see her go. I wasn't the only one with problems dealing with her, but I had her the majority of the time.

    My suggestion, from having been in the trenches with a problem nurse, is to separate them for at least half the shifts if possible.
  9. by   teeituptom
    Back in the old days it was simpler.
    Lock them both in a room. Let them work it out.
    The one who could walk out got to saty
    the one who crawled out, got the boot

    Very simple, very effective

    of course they both could have sat down and worked out okm then everyone wins

    still simple.

    Great rule in life, Keep H.R. out of it, away from it,
  10. by   Nurse Beth
    Quote from Fitness55
    I am a new Nurse Manager and need advice. Two staff members are at odds with each other. The conflict is dividing the staff and I feel lost. Apparently this situation has been happening for quite some time. What should I do ?
    Good for you in realizing you do have to deal with this-your staff is intently watching you in this your first "test" and will deduce from this whether you will be fair, firm, credible. etc. You are wise in seeing how very destructive this kind of behaviour is.

    All about you- Your own values will show here- what do you believe to be true about people and workers in particular? What kind of management style do you feel is best in this situation? How strong are your needs to be liked, what biases might you have, etc.

    Know what you want to acheive-They don't have to like each other, but they do have to conduct themselves professionally, and you will set boundaries. The end goal is the floor needs to heal and get set on a common track and unifying direction- hopefully excellent pt care- rather than allow these two to put their personal needs ahead of everything.

    Prepare: Gather as much information as you can- read their HR files for previous evaluations and any warnings.
    Can you talk with the previous manager?
    Is there an experienced manager in your peer group you can use a mentor?
    What does the culture of your facility support in terms of discipline?
    Of course, use a progressive discipline approach, document well, and avoid negative and labeling terms as much as possible. Do provide examples that illustrate the behaviours you will and will not accept.

    Good luck, management is not for the faint hearted, but the right person can bring about so much good for staff and ultimately, patients.

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