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Posted by mariemanthey in Inspiration, Leadership, Professional Practice, Thought for today, Values.

Many years ago I had a Nurse Manager (NM) role, and looking back on it I remember it as a very positive experience.    Lots of times I knew we had done a great job, and that our work was appreciated by both patients and physicians – and even our bosses.    I wonder how often today there is any recognition for excellence in nursing practice.   I don’t mean just the HCAPS scores…. I mean the real deal.

Nurse Managers attend lots of meetings, fill out lots of forms, audit lots of stuff, and spend lots of time at their desk in front of a computer.   Somehow, we have to get back to the notion that the NM is also a leader of the clinical practice of the unit.    What if a NM spent just 15 min. a day ….every day asking a nurse about a patient story in order to just recognize – or even advance through inspiration – a higher level of practice?    What if a NM made a point of finding the good stuff the staff does and bragging about it?   What can be done to improve the experience for Nurse Managers throughout the current system?

I’m really looking for some feedback from Nurse Managers about Fun and Joy….and what has worked for you to bring those experiences into your challenging role.    You deserve it.   You are the engine of the system.    Take pride in your role and its importance.


1. Heidi Orstad - November 15, 2014

Hi Marie,

Great question ……have I ever had fun as a nurse manager? I can answer a resounding YES, absolutely. I can also say the decision to have fun, to smile at whoever enters my office and to be fully present to them creates a culture and that is a decision I need to make every day. (It does not equate to every day being picture perfect or stress free!). Carnegie said, “There is very little success where there is little laughter” (My screensaver)

What bubbles up for me is that if I look at the spirits of the last two teams I walked into as the new manager and think through how each team’s spirit evolved slowly into one part laughter and one part sacredness (i.e..”I am safe in this space with these people” ) a lot of the change stemmed from a decision to make humor and unifying activity a priority. I have been fortunate to have with me two supervisors and awesome, mature nurses who are on board with the philosophy- and my leader is “all in” as well! To go a step farther, two intentional decisions I can say that made a difference were starting the peer driven Spirit Award and making quarterly FUN a priority across teams and being present for that fun.

One peer driven, fun initiative that has worked is the Spirit Award. The philosophy behind the award was (and is) that every day nurses within the team are serving each other and their patients, living the values of nursing and making coming to work better for their peers and it is important to recognize each other for doing so.At each of the two teams I have introduced the award, I crafted the award at home and chose the first of the team’s Spirit Award winner and introduced to the team the reason behind the award. It was that first Spirit Award winner’s responsibility to seek out who they saw making a difference over the course of the next month. At the subsequent staff meeting they honored whomever they chose to win (karaoke , slide shows, music, laughter, tears have all been seen), The next winner went on to award someone the next month and so on and so on. This award has circled cubes now countless times and has turned out to be a GREAT way to start out our meeting in a much more lively way and helped to create a sacred / safe meeting space. The winners are announced in our department newsletter as well as the person handing off the award and what the person was recognized for.

In my time as a nurse and leader, it seems as though team relationship building most naturally builds during opportunities of FUN (ie. not staff meetings, huddles, etc). My observation is that there is more buy in when Peer Driven! I lead four DM teams and for us, each team takes one quarter per year to organize a fun event. The teams seem to compete to make it a bit sillier. We’ve have themed pot luck lunches wearing sombreros and mustaches in May, dressed up in hula skirts and playing lawn games during lunch, leaders delivering root beer floats for goals met, and hysterical white elephant gift parties. We post proudly Ugly team trophies and team photos an alternate org chart where people print off their movie star of choice (I am Meg Ryan) in the shape of our org chart.

So, can Nurse Managers have fun? You bet!

Heidi Orstad

mariemanthey - November 15, 2014

This is a wonderful post. I’d love to know more about you….where you live/work and how you are mentoring other leaders to understand the power of positive energy and the role/responsibilitiy of leaders to create and inspire positive energy. I believe that on your unit, nurses feel both energized and safe. This is so important as ways to ‘handle’ the normal stress of this work in a healthy way.
I’d also like to know how your unit measures on the HCAP scores. I truly believe you must be one of the higher scoreing units.
Also….are you doing RBC as your care model? Have you learned about therapeutic relatioships through the book See Me As a Person? Let’s stay in touch. Maybe we could keep dialoging on the blog for others to see?

Heidi Orstad - November 16, 2014

Hi Marie,

I am one of a team of a couple of managers at HealthPartners telephonic Disease and Case Management. I lead a phenomenal Disease Management team who work with patients living with CAD, Diabetes, High Risk Pregnancy, Cancer, COPD, Asthma, Heart Failure, Cancer, and Chronic Back Pain. I work in partnership with two supervisors who are “all in” with the spirit of servant leadership.

As for outcomes, I can tell you that we have not had a nurse leave for anything other than retirement since we have come together as a DM leadership team and that our employee satisfaction scores are >90%. The feedback I hear in my roundings/ 1:1’s tell me that we are on the right track and that the nurses feel heard and supported and feel safe coming to leaders with recommendations or feedback (or to vent!). I can also say that I used the same positive communication environment (again, with supervisor buy in!) with the previous team that I lead at another company, and that the other team’s satisfaction scores shot up from 66% before I started to 93% within 12 months after my hire.

As for RBC, I am a bit humbled to admit that I did not know about the model until this week at the Salon. I am THRILLED to know that it exists as it is well aligned with my soul and what I know to be successful and ethically correct. (And I KNOW it works for patients, for families and for staff.) t am energized to know that the philosophy is standardized in such a way that can be spread, reproduced and sustained! 2015 is going to be a very good year!

Thanks Marie!

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