Ask the nursing expert: handling an abrasive nurse manager

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Ask the nursing expert
Ask the nursing expert
One of my nurse managers is great clinically but has an abrasive leader-ship style. Any ideas on how to handle this?

Meet with your nurse manager and let her know ahead of time that you want to do some goal setting with her for her unit, and to discuss how she feels she can motivate her staff to “work with her” to reach the goals you both set. It will give her time to think about how she currently motivates her staff to do a good job and how to introduce “change” to them.

Together, you can make a list of pros and cons in the way she manages her staff. Encourage her to work on the approaches that are not getting her the results she wants. Create some scenarios and ask her how she thinks she should handle them. When the approach seems too “abrasive,” ask how she might try to handle it differently.

End your meeting by giving her some homework for your follow-up meeting, such as identifying a staff member she has difficulty getting along with and her trying a different approach in how she speaks to her. Schedule a follow up meeting in a month or so. Practice makes progress.

I have worked with a nurse who I know is difficult to trust on a personal level. I have never known her to be dishonest clinically, but I am on the lookout. Is that wrong?

I don't think it hurts to be on the “lookout” in her managing clinical issues, and slowly step away in the personal arena. Staff will also watch to make sure that you don't have “favorites.”

I have learned that staff keep an eye on how I handle most situations and although they might not agree with how I handle the issue, as long as I am open, honest, consistent and fair, they respect my decisions.