Help with Staff Moral


I'm a fairly new nurse manager who started off working on the floor. I'm still on the floor EVERYDAY helping with discharges/admissions/lunch coverage because I love the floor that much. I'm slowly but surely making changes getting rid of "dead weight", attempting to change the staffing matrix, and hiring more qualified nursing staff. We recently got our employee satisfaction survey back and my scores for me are horrible. Stuff like how effectively your manager communicates you or how easy your manager is to reach. My cell phone number is available to all of my staff (they use it for dumb crap), and I'm constantly communicating with them on floor, phone, or email along with staff meetings. What more can I do?!?!? I'm getting very frustrated!!!


31 Posts

Specializes in IMC, ICU, cath lab, admin..

Why don't you present the data to your staff, and ask them what they think of the poor results.... Sometimes the surveys can be very misleading.... I received some results that were really low regarding teamwork/working with others. I was shocked! I thought we had a great cohesive team that worked well together. Come to find out, when the nurses read the question in the order it was presented, they were thinking of the relationships with other departments, not among our unit.


1,191 Posts

Specializes in COS-C, Risk Management. Has 20 years experience.
My cell phone number is available to all of my staff (they use it for dumb crap), and I'm constantly communicating with them on floor, phone, or email along with staff meetings. What more can I do?!?!? I'm getting very frustrated!!!

This makes me wonder. If you come across with the attitude that they are wasting your time with their "dumb crap" but inundate them with what they probably see as *your* dumb crap, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the problem.

First rule of nursing, start with assessment. In this case, I'd recommend self-assessment. Would you want a manager who acts the way you do? Why or why not? How have you handled issues that staff have brought to your attention? How do you handle conflict? Do you play favorites? Do you give recognition where it's due? Is the "dead weight" you're getting rid of long-time nurses who are/were invested in the unit?

Once you have an idea of what you may be doing wrong (and right) assess how your staff feels about the unit as a whole, not you as a manager. Their dissatisfaction may or may not be directly related to you but rather may be dissatisfaction with the facility and you are an easy target. Or you may encounter hostility by those who have been in nursing longer and don't think you're qualified for the position. Or those who used to be your peers have trouble seeing you as their superior.

Last, find a mentor. Is there someone in the organization who consistently scores well with his/her staff? Pick that person's brain for the things that are working for that team and see what you can apply to yours. Ask your own supervisor for insight into the matter and ask for help.

Middle management is a thankless position. Good luck.


202 Posts


I don't know that I have any real answers for you as my situation is different. I have hired my nurse case managers from a pool of nurses I worked with in the past who were friends and unhappy with their previous job. So we all get along well. I do have a few office support staff that are more of a challenge.

Some things I do: I often look for the good things my staff has done and make a point in commenting/praising them for that. A few weeks ago, I pulled up a report on all our clients in our data-flex system to check on the certification periods. All of them (120) were correct and updated. So I told the person in charge of that what a great job she had done keeping up with that. The smile that put on her face was priceless. I try not to lose my cool but all my staff knows if I get really stressed or mad, I often say things I wish I didn't. I always, always make a point of going to a person I may have offended and asking them to forgive me. No excuses other than I reacted in a way I shouldn't have (even if they were totally in the wrong and I had good reason to be mad). Last week my administrative asst. came in to ask me to forgive her because she felt that she had usurped my authority in something she had said to me the day before.... so it seems to be catchy. People are beginning to be more aware of what they say and how it affects others. On the other hand, I will frequently bring someone in for a closed door session to discuss a problem, how what they did or said made others feel, or if they just plain blew it. My method is less to write someone up but to teach the correct way to do something. This seems simplistic but it is working so far.



5 Posts

JJGRN- that is one of the ideas that we have come up with and plan on doing. I did find out that they included another seperate med-surg unit with my numbers and that could be the cause for my low numbers. But I do want to find out what is wrong and fix the things that I can fix while I can. Every month we have a "staff council" meeting where we we talk about what IS WORKING and what IS NOT working. This information comes directly from the staff and that seems to be helping a lot with moral. I have future plans as well. But I appreciate all the comments and suggestions and I will definately be putting some of them to use. Thanks so much!!


11 Posts

Specializes in GI. Has 6 years experience.

You mentioned that you are still working the floor a lot. You may interpret helping out on the floor as being there for your staff. Are you too busy to be there for your staff if you are busy working with patients? I know that facilities think that managers have plenty of time to manage as well as work on the floor, but how can you effectively be there for the staff and facility if you are working with the patients? You might want to try walking around asking the staff how it is going and if they are having any problems that you can help them with. My staff also calls me for "dumb things", but I still encourage them to call me for anything. I get called because a computer won't turn on when the person simply needed to push the power button, or to change a printer toner cartridge because the nurse is too chicken to try to figure it our herself. Even though I think those are "dumb" things to call me about, it makes the staff feel comfortable to have a manager who will be there for anything that they need.

First thing :) This is a thankless position. Try to be the manager you would want if you were on the floor. Obviously you are charged with other responsibilities, try to be empathetic to your nurses and more importantly listen to them. One of the things I tell my nurses is "if you see a problem, please think about it and bring it to me with a probable solution as well." Middle management is hard, very hard, that is why you often see the position last appx 2 years per person. Good Luck!


135 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Educ, IC, CM, EOC.

Find a copy of a book called Eat That Cookie. I also read Crucial Conversations, and found both to be extremely helpful. Agree with the response about asking "what did you mean when you answered the following question...?" The answers I got were not at all what I thought I might hear, and helped me figure out potential solutions to the real problem (instead of solving something I thought was the problem!).