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I'm being pushed to be manager

Nurse Beth   (424 Views 1 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

364 Likes; 10 Followers; 82 Articles; 224,957 Visitors; 1,696 Posts

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I'm finding myself in a fortunate but rather interesting situation. I was a staff nurse on my unit for 5 years and a year ago I was hired on as an assistant nurse manager. The manager of the unit is awesome and we work really well together. This person's been managing the unit for many years, with an anomalous longevity for the job in this field of medicine. The manager has been ready to move on for a couple of years. The assistant manager position was created last year, implicitly for my manager to train up the assistant into my manager's role. This has been hinted at but recently I've been a part of more explicit conversations with my manager and her boss about moving into the manager role. I've been playing my cards close in these conversations, not being enthusiastic or rejecting the idea. They've never outright asked if I want the manager job.

Here's the thing. I love my job! The job I'm doing. I'm not sold on taking on my manager's role. Current time frame for my manager's exit is 8 months from now. I'm thinking I need to act now because I don't want to leave my manager, who I really like and respect, in the lurch 8 months from now if I decide to bow out. Is it uncouth to ask really blunt questions to my manager now? Salary will definitely play a factor in my decision, for example. If they offer me much less than I'm expecting 8 months from now I'll feel bad rejecting their offer. In this area of the country, and in general I think, it is hard to find a willing and competent manager in this field. Should I tell my manager that right now my desire is to remain as assistant manager? I have a feeling the position I'm in was designed to evaporate after succession, so this may not be an option. Any thoughts? Thank you.


Dear Assistant Manager,

Congrats on being promoted to assistant manager! Clearly, they think well of you.

Another way to look at this is you don't know for sure what will happen in 8 months. As much as they are implying, they may not know, either. In 8 months, they could have a budget cut, re-organize, post the manager position for outside candidates...anything. It's the nature of hospital administrations and promotions in general.

You are thinking the assistant manager position will be eliminated once the manager leaves. Perhaps. Or maybe you are overthinking it, and maybe they will require another manager to pick up an extra unit.

Don't spend time feeling bad about turning down an offer that hasn't been made. They are getting their money's worth and work from you- you are not obligated to accept the manager's position if offered. 

You may feel that there is an "understanding"...but in the business world, all that counts is an offer on paper. At the same time, you are wise to consider your terms so you'll be ready to negotiate should you be offered the managerial position. 

Asking "blunt" questions depends on your personality and the relationship you have with your manager. I would ask, to help alleviate some uncomfortable ambivalence, and she will probably choose her words carefully. But you can read between the lines. 

Good luck to you. When the time comes, make your decision based on what's best for you and not out of a feeling of obligation.

Best wishes,
Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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