Ask the nursing expert

Q: I would like to begin establishing both short-term and long-term goals with my unit managers to provide more structure to their management of the nursing units. Where do I begin?

A: First of all, contact some of your peers and get recommendations of good reading material about goal setting. After reading/reviewing selected materials, jot down notes about the goal setting that best describes your vision related to setting of goals.

For example, how would you answer the questions: Why are goals important to me? What are my goals for the nursing department? As the DON, how will I be able to support my leadership team in meeting the goals they are setting? How can I help them to make these goals meaningful?

Display your departmental goals on a poster board in timeline format and post them on a wall in your office for all to see. Have your managers go back to their units, share the goals of the unit with their team members, place them on a yearlong time lime and post them where all can see them on the unit.

On a monthly basis, managers need to review their progress toward established goals with their teams, and to take pride in their accomplishments and revise interventions as needed with goals that are falling behind.

The director of nursing can establish quarterly success celebrations for teams that are really showing progress.
A secondary gain from goal setting is always an improvement in teamwork and, correspondingly, an increase in quality of care.

What you’ll find out is that once the wheels get moving on this (goal setting, teamwork, improved quality of care), it turns out to be a repeating process.

It is also another instance of keeping your employees’ interests in mind. The result will usually be reciprical interest and attention.