We’re expecting a new administrator. As the director of nursing, how can I make this relationship work? 

Changes to the leadership team can be stressful for all staff, but especially for the director of nursing, who works closely with an administrator. Because the relationship affects so many aspects of care delivery, it’s critical to collaborate effectively. 

First, establish expectations. Clarify not only what he or she expects of you, but also what you need. 

One shared need should be time for regular meetings. Mutual respect takes time to grow, but working through challenges together establishes a solid foundation. Ensure communications are frequent and discussions transparent. While being honest builds respect, secrets undermine it.

In addition to how you communicate behind closed doors, bolster one another with other staff. The administrator and DON are the two top leaders in a facility; staff will be watching your relationship closely. Present a united front, and agree to work through disagreements behind closed doors. 

Since you’re a team, support one another. Offer and accept help. In the last year, support has become more important than ever, and no one can understand the struggles of long-term care like the administrator and DON. When stakes and stresses are high, support each to better support staff. 

Learn about the financial aspects of the administrator’s role and discuss expenses openly. Don’t let large expenses surprise the administrator. Instead, share information openly and work with the administrator to manage the nursing budget effectively. 

New administrators are often unsure what to expect from their new position. Encountering an open-minded DON who wants to co-lead the facility will be a welcome introduction.