Ask the Nursing Expert about ... administrator relationships

Angel McGarrity-Davis, RNC, CDONA, CDP, NHA
Angel McGarrity-Davis, RNC, CDONA, CDP, NHA

What are ways a director of nursing can adopt to “get in good” with the boss (the administrator)? 

The relationship between a director of nursing and the administrator is a professional marriage. Just as in that partnership, it is important for each person to work to understand and respect each other's talents, strengths and weaknesses.  

You are a team and there is no “I” in team. No matter how smart, talented, driven, or passionate you are, success as a DON or as administrator depends on your ability to help staff work towards a common vision. 

Still, a DON and an administrator may have different personalities. That's fine. A DON may be more “people focused,” while the administrator cares about residents but also has to oversee financials. 

It may be beneficial for the DON and administrator to take a personality test. For example, an extroverted DON and introverted administrator may communicate in different ways. Understanding how your boss processes new ideas and handles challenges will help. Never hesitate to ask the question “What can I do to make your job easier?” 

Even if you are different in approaching your work, you should always be honest. At the same time, you must always have each other's “back.” If you disagree, agree to do it behind closed doors.

Consider a planned morning conversation after the facility's stand-up meeting. That's to address pressing matters. Before the end of the day, ask if there is anything else needed. 

Do not hold back clinical information. Have it up to date so the administrator knows everything about resident care — their license is on the line.  

If you can go off campus for coffee or lunch once a week, to “breathe,” that is a good idea too.