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Mentors and preceptors please advise - newly promoted nurse struggling with peers

Specializes in A and E, Medicine, Surgery.

Mentors and preceptors I would welcome your advice.

I am currently mentoring a newly promoted nurse who is struggling. The hospital temporarily promotes junior nurses to senior nurse post for a period of three months. The party line is that is gives them a protected opportunity to experience a senior post but it also gives management a chance to check out how they would do in a senior post.

Some months ago four nurses got offered temporary senior posts. Three have had there turn and they all took to it like ducks to water. My concerns are for the fourth nurse, Rob. Clinically he is probably the most sound the issue is personality. He is quiet and reflective and is currently in danger of being eaten alive. His ex peers are making his role much harder than necessary, they are questioning his decisions and doing there own thing rather that what he is asking or directing. For example he asked that a patient be put in one particular area of the department and the nurse in charge of that area came back all guns blazing saying that she felt the patient was unsafe there. Rob could give sound reasons for placing the patient in that area and he also had a more than adequate grasp of what was going on in the rest of the department and I agreed with his decision. He got into a discussion with the nurse and quietly backed down and moved the patient to an area that was already pressured. His ex peers are in general confident, skilled and assertive and certainly not backwards in coming forward, there is also a little bit of resentment as although many of them did not apply for the post secretly a few of them would like the opportunity.

Despite the fact that the shift he is running are going well and he is doing really well his confidence is at an all time low and he is just looking forward to going back to being a regular nurse.

I would welcome advice. I meet with him at the start and end of each shift, feedback on every positive and talk through other ways he can handle his ex peers. On a couple of occasions I have intervened when the junior nurses have actively challenged his decisions but feel this is really counter-productive as they immediately back down leaving Rob feeling worse than ever.

I know that if I talked with the junior nurses and either told them that this behaviour will stop, or appeal to their better nature and ask them to support me by supporting Rob then they will but again I am not sure if this is the right approach.

I would really like to turn this around and welcome advice.

If I had the luxury of time I would not be too worried as over time I know junior nurses would grow to respect his clinical skills and quiet approach but he doesn't have this and I am concerned that a very good sound nurse is going to end this experience negatively.

madwife2002, BSN, RN

Specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN. Has 26 years experience.

I personnally think he has to handle it himself. I see no harm in his decisions being questioned especially if his has used sound clinical judgement. He has to earn their repect and being consistant will help re-inforce that he has the knowledge and experience required for the job.

Maybe he does not have leadership potential? Just guide him as you have been doing and unless he is being treated unfairly I suggest you back off and leave him to develop.

By the way is he complaining about the other nurses?

Sink or swim.

Some people are born leaders, some do better following.

Also with the type of personality you described him having, a leadership roll may be unhealthy to him.

PostOpPrincess, BSN, RN

Specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU. Has 19 years experience.

A leadership role requires leadership ability. Some have it some don't.

mesa1979, BSN, RN

Specializes in Dialysis, Long-term care, Med-Surg.

I disagree with the above posts. Some people are shy and reserved because they have been rejected in the past or have not had a person as yourself who is a positive influence on him.

I would ask what his goals are. Also have him list his strong points and then concentrate on those. Strengthen his strengths!

Edited by mesa1979

snoopy29

Specializes in A and E, Medicine, Surgery.

Thankyou - I am really interested to have your thoughts. My dilemma is that I believe he has the potential to be a good leader but he is going to need longer than most.

Newly qualified nurses love working with him. He is kind, patient and has all the time in the world for their questions, often staying well over his time. He is clinically sound and has worked in the department for nearly eight years. His ex peers, when he was at their level valued his work.

In the department we already have a lot of very strong leaders, who have no qualms about making decisions even if it makes them unpopular. It's funny but their opinion for new nurses tends to be sink or swim.

I just feel that with the right investment Rob would be an excellent role model for the quieter, more reserved nurses but I also completely understand that to a degree people either have or don't have the personality to lead. I feel that if we had him at a senior level it would give the more unconfident and unsure newly qualified nurses more of a fighting chance.

He hasn't complained about the other nurses behaviour and when I have asked him directly he will say that it is only fair, as he is new, that they challenge his decisions. My conflict comes because they didn't behave like this with the other promoted nurses as they knew full well they would not have got away with it.

I am just struggling a bit. I am far more used to dealing with the under rather than over confident and he has got something about him. He could have thrown the towel in after his first horrendous shift but he didnt saying that he knew it was not going to be easy. Despite all the issues with junior nurses when he is in charge the shift are well run with good patient care.

If I am honest I feel I am letting him down - it's easy to bring a nurses clinical skills or recording or recording up to speed. What I want to be able to do is give someone confidence in themselves so that they can truly decide whether they would be happy or not in a senior post in an impossibly short time.

pussycat66

Specializes in Cardiology (ITU), Acute Renal/Dialysis. Has 9 years experience.

wish you were my manager! rob sounds like me but my colleagues are pirranahs! i feel i'm eaten alive daily. is this the caring profession we're talking about? i really hope rob succeeds with your support, we need more robs and less psychotic princesses! who seem to thrive and get the top jobs.

pussycat66

Specializes in Cardiology (ITU), Acute Renal/Dialysis. Has 9 years experience.

typical! sniper you picked the right alias! wrong profession comes to mind! or maybe i am?

If you really believe he will be good in a leadership role as he gains more confidence; then I think you should pull rank on the biotches to put them in their place (where they need to be) long enough for him to develop that confidence.

If the staff insist on being pirannahas, then you can be militaristic about it, can't you? Seems to me the bitoches are asking for it, so just do it!

Sounds to me that he is the mature one. The others will behave like children, and just wait, it'll get worse. Maybe the ring leaders should be cautioned that you've seen a recent and serious decline in their abilities to be team players... you would like them to remedy this ASAP

I agree with 2ndwind and lossforimagination. It sounds like a bunch of bullies ganging up on him. Horizontal violence is for management to deal with. I would also tell him to develop his own coping skills for dealing with bullies in the future, because if he is as good as you say he is, he will be a target for the rest of his career.

Virgo_RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry, ED.

Sounds to me that he is the mature one. The others will behave like children, and just wait, it'll get worse. Maybe the ring leaders should be cautioned that you've seen a recent and serious decline in their abilities to be team players... you would like them to remedy this ASAP

I agree with this. You have to nip this in the bud, like yesterday. As his mentor in this, it is your role to guide and counsel him, and also to protect him to a certain extent. He doesn't have the job, so why should he have to sink or swim at this point? How is that helpful?

Being quiet and reserved does not disqualify a person from a leadership position. If he is making sound, rational, defensible decisions that put patient safety at the forefront, then he is showing potential. If he accepts a leadership position some day, then the time will probably come where he has to take off the kid gloves and get dirty. But, he is not there yet. :twocents:

Thankyou - I am really interested to have your thoughts. My dilemma is that I believe he has the potential to be a good leader but he is going to need longer than most.

Newly qualified nurses love working with him. He is kind, patient and has all the time in the world for their questions, often staying well over his time. He is clinically sound and has worked in the department for nearly eight years. His ex peers, when he was at their level valued his work.

In the department we already have a lot of very strong leaders, who have no qualms about making decisions even if it makes them unpopular. It's funny but their opinion for new nurses tends to be sink or swim.

I just feel that with the right investment Rob would be an excellent role model for the quieter, more reserved nurses but I also completely understand that to a degree people either have or don't have the personality to lead. I feel that if we had him at a senior level it would give the more unconfident and unsure newly qualified nurses more of a fighting chance.

He hasn't complained about the other nurses behaviour and when I have asked him directly he will say that it is only fair, as he is new, that they challenge his decisions. My conflict comes because they didn't behave like this with the other promoted nurses as they knew full well they would not have got away with it.

I am just struggling a bit. I am far more used to dealing with the under rather than over confident and he has got something about him. He could have thrown the towel in after his first horrendous shift but he didnt saying that he knew it was not going to be easy. Despite all the issues with junior nurses when he is in charge the shift are well run with good patient care.

If I am honest I feel I am letting him down - it's easy to bring a nurses clinical skills or recording or recording up to speed. What I want to be able to do is give someone confidence in themselves so that they can truly decide whether they would be happy or not in a senior post in an impossibly short time.

Why is the time limit so short? Can it be extended?

I think if Rob wants to continue in the Senior nurse role, let him. If he's clinically sound, if he's great with new nurses, he might just need a little more time to learn to manage, even write up, the more outspoken nurses who challenge him so much. By the way, it doesn't hurt to question or challenge, respectfully, a boss' decisions, or to ask for clarification or help to understand how the decisions were made. He seems to be willing to discuss. Also, maybe the decision, for example, to place the patient where the other nurse wanted to was a better decision than to place the patient where Rob originally had chosen. I don't like that the challenger had guns blazing, as I'm picturing an angry hothead instead of a calm, reasonable nurse who merely had a different point of view.

I am like Rob - quiet, reflective. I think some people think I'm unfriendly but I am really just content to often be alongside people, rather than always interacting with them. I really don't like telling or asking people to do things, I hate all the discussing, all the arguing, the underlying anger while they smile to your face. I just don't want to be part of all that gossip and wrangling. Is Rob like that? Or is he a people person, just quiet?

You sound like you are very capable of making a good decision and I believe you will. You can try to make sure Rob truly wants to supervise and doesn't just think he has to in order to please you or keep his job. Can you just give him some extra time and leave the door open for him to step down if he chooses to after a while?

Best of luck. Oh, and I think I might let that loud, angry hothead nurse know that she needs to calm down and cool her guns. Discussion is ok, rude challenges to authority are not. I'm also sorry to hear that there are problems with some nurses being unhelpful or worse to newbies.

typical! sniper you picked the right alias! wrong profession comes to mind! or maybe i am?

So you think that because I don't believe everyone is a leader I should pick another profession? :eek: It is the way it is. Maybe he can become a leader, maybe he can't. HE has to be able to lead. How is my statement "Typical"? because I am a male? Please :uhoh3:

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

What does Rob say about all this? I would sit down with him (away from the department, where you will be able to talk freely without interruptions) and say, "Rob, I think you have the potential to be a strong senior nurse. You have X, Y, Z skills. But to be successful in the senior nurse role, you need some aditional skills. I would be happy to work with you to help you develop those skills either now or some point in the future. Are you interested in learning those skills? Would you like to be a senior nurse someday?"

See what he says. If you truly has no desire to progress in his career at this time, then don't force it on him. Just let him know that you will support his decision now -- and be there for him in the future should he later feel a desire to move up the career ladder. If he chooses to continue to work on those skills now, then work with him to make a plan.

Respect him enough to lay it all out for him ... and then let him make his own choice.

Good luck. He sounds like a nice guy. I'm glad he has someone looking out for his best interests.

pussycat66

Specializes in Cardiology (ITU), Acute Renal/Dialysis. Has 9 years experience.

So you think that because I don't believe everyone is a leader I should pick another profession? :eek: It is the way it is. Maybe he can become a leader, maybe he can't. HE has to be able to lead. How is my statement "Typical"? because I am a male? Please :uhoh3:

a) I didnt know you are male until you just said - makes no difference to me -

b) sniper = "a marksman who shoots at people from a concealed place" - say no more

c) "it is the way it is" - does that mean you just lie back & accept bullying from your colleagues towards just as able Nurses but less psychotic than themselves and therefore labelled weak or not leader material!! OK dont make a difference, just let it be.Aslong as you're alright eh? is that the answer?

Yes, not everybody is a born leader, but you don't have to be aggressive & cocky (dictator) to be a leader infact for the "led" that type of leader is a nightmare. However it seems that they are growing in numbers and are taking over health care both in US & UK.

d) I dont believe I said you need to change your profession - I was merely hinting at the so called caring profession spawning horrors like some of my colleagues whom your comments echo.

Good day to you kind sir! I have enjoyed my little rant :p

luvRNs, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in criticalcare, nursing administration. Has 41 years experience.

A few thoughts .....

If Rob is as valuable as you say, then you don't want to lose him by maintaining the status quo with other staff. It sounds to me like the other, older staff are the problem. Many nurses have not had assertiveness training. Teach Rob the techniques of assertive feedback ( describe a behavior, identify the result using "I " or "I felt like", explain what is expected and in what time frame, and what will happen if those expectation are not met " I will have to go to our manager if theses behaviors continue". Even more importantly, role model the behaviors FOR him if these isd opportunity.

MAke sure you re-recruit him by letting him know how valuable he is. ALSO make sure you deal with your low perfoming staff that are truly the problem:argue:

XB9S

Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery. Has 22 years experience.

Ladies and gentlemen please do not turn this thread a slanging match, this is not about individual members it's about how to support a nurse new into managment.

snoopy29

Specializes in A and E, Medicine, Surgery.

Thankyou for all your well thought out replies there is lots in here I plan to use.

Rob's post cannot be extended past 3 months. We already have the next raft of senior nurses waiting to act up and there is not the money or the resources to keep him in post any longer, unfortunately.

Rob is very clear himself that he would like to take on a senior post and had to go through interview and exam to get this chance. He is also the first to say it is not a role he feels comfortable with but he believes over time he could contribute a great deal.

I really like 2ndwind's suggestion of reminding his ex-peers of the importance of team work and plan to use this. The team are generally a good bunch of nurses but they do feel the need to firmly push boundaries with anyone they perceive as "weaker". I think this approach pushes the onus for their behaviour back on them without focusing completely on Rob.

Once again I am really grateful for all your advice. There is lots I will take from it, that's the beauty of lots off differing experiences, I had felt like I had hit a brick wall and now I have lots to work with. Thankyou :)

I always seek the calm ones in the storm.

That's what it takes to be a leader. Your guy seems careful in choosing to think things out before jumping. He will gain speed with experience. As he grows into the role, and people learn that there is substance and not empty air behind his decisions, he'll gain respect.

It might just be that he choses not to engage when the squabbling starts because he is the leader-type. :smokin:

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