Whether you’re brand new to your role or a seasoned pro, every leadership position comes with its share of challenges. Although improving management skills and team collaboration is important for leaders in any industry, for nurse leaders it can impact whether or not your hospital receives full Medicare reimbursement or your private practice maintains maximum efficiency.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to ensure your team is working together to produce the best results for your institution, offering the best nursing care to each and every patient and experiencing job satisfaction. Consider the following five tips nurse leaders can use to improve team cooperation:
1. Get to Know Your Staff
This piece of advice may seem simple, but it’s easy to forget amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy shift. You strive to spend a little time with each new team member, but your duties require you to shift your attention elsewhere. Suddenly, you realize you don’t know anything about the lives each of your nurses leads outside the workplace. In many situations, this means your team doesn’t know much about you either—which can affect their ability to trust you.
The best way to avoid this situation is to schedule time with each of your team members immediately after they’re added to your team, and again every month thereafter. You don’t need to sacrifice a half day of work, though. A few minutes of chatting over a cup of coffee or quick lunch can do wonders.
2. Focus on Relationship-Building
Employees are more likely to communicate with and support those team members they know best. Nurses who are comfortable with other members of their team find it easier to ask fellow employees for assistance with tasks, collaborate and offer help to others. But, again, in such a busy environment—how is this possible?
Schedule a short weekly meeting where each team member can share his or her triumphs and challenges, a recent inspirational experience or even a humorous story. The more you normalize communication between team members, the more comfortable they’ll feel reaching out to each other.
3. Set Clear Guidelines
Does every single member of your team know what’s expected of them? While your institution may have a code of ethics or credo, your team should have one as well. Create a set of guidelines, and put them on paper. Ensure all of your nurses, nurse technicians and any other employees on your team are well versed in these guidelines.
4. Lead By Example
Florence Nightingale once said, “One’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.” Or, actions speak louder than words.
As a nurse leader, you are the thermostat that governs the entire mood of your team. So whether you are positive, follow your own rules and treat everyone with respect, or make negative comments, show frustration and break your own guidelines, your team will follow your example.
5. Ask for Feedback
Your team members want to feel as though their opinion matters, they want to feel appreciated and they also want to feel as though they can come to you with any issues or concerns. Make an effort to foster open dialog by asking each member of your team if there is anything keeping them from reaching their full potential. Give them an opportunity to share not only any challenges they face, but their suggestions on how to make improvements. Most importantly, take this feedback and put it into action.
While it may seem nearly impossible to find the time to help your team work better together, by exercising the practices above, you can make team cooperation part of your daily routine. Looking for more ways to help your nursing staff become their best? Check out our eBook How Nurses Can Improve Satisfaction through Patient-Centered Care.