8 things your nursing supervisor wants you to know

Graphic - Mighty Nurse BannerIn this story, I interviewed a clinical nursing supervisor (we’ll call her Sharon) who oversees a multi-unit inpatient hospital to find out what makes supervisors happy, sad, afraid, and proud! Now: let’s find out what makes a manager’s work easier or harder from their perspective.

1. Don’t Pass The Buck. Supervisors like to see nurses and teams try their best to solve problems by helping each other and using their judgment as a team. On the other hand, it’s unpleasant when nurses pass minor problems on just because they are unpleasant or have something to do with patient families (the most common ‘buck’ that gets passed to supervisors!).

2. Don’t Put Me On The Spot. I’ll let Sharon explain this one: “Sometimes I will get calls from nurses who quickly introduce themselves, then transfer the phone to unhappy patient family members. Sometimes they just give away my extension without letting me know a call is coming. That makes it very hard for me to help solve problems: I don’t know the situation, background, or assessments from staff. Communicate with me so I can be prepared to help!”

3. Explain, Don’t Complain. According to Sharon, “There’s a huge difference between ‘explaining’ and ‘complaining.’” It is important to voice concerns or issues that make you uncomfortable at work, as well as share how you feel. However, be careful not to overdo it or become too negative, no longer providing constructive feedback. Although your manager might not say this to your face, it can get tiresome!

4. See The Big Picture. “Some nurses start to have tunnel vision. They only see what’s happening on their unit or hallway and forget that the manager has to consider what’s best for the whole building.” Before passing judgment or voicing objections to decisions, Sharon says, try to ask yourself if there could be an overarching rationale behind it.

5. Be flexible. “If you’re flexible with assignments and tasks, we do notice. It is helpful to us. You’ll end up rewarded with more hours when you want it and less hours when you don’t – managers appreciate a willing attitude and positivity, and will be more willing to work with your requests for days off, preference on units and so on.” Those that are inflexible are simply less useful to managers – which won’t help you in the long run.

6. Report Progress Updates. “I enjoy hearing about nurses’ accomplishments and all the things they’ve been able to finish for the day. It makes me happy!” It’s like if you have kids or a spouse, and you ask how their day was. Instead of a quick “it was fine,” isn’t it much nicer to get a full, detailed summary? Managers feel the exact same way.

7. Communicate Incidents. “It really helps when nurses are diligent about following up with me about unusual things that have happened. It’s embarrassing when my boss has caught wind of something that happened when I’m unaware of it!” In the same way that you take responsibility and know what’s happening within your assignment, managers want to have an accurate knowledge of anything that happens within theirs.

8. Your Bosses Have Bosses. “I don’t understand the ‘Us against You’ attitude I sometimes see. Everyone has a boss – we really aren’t so different!” There’s always a bigger fish (or, in this case, nurse). So remember, you and your boss are still in the same boat – reporting up the chain of command.

Any managers or supervisors out there who can resonate with these thoughts? Staff nurses, what are your thoughts on the nurse managers you come in contact with? We’d love to hear your comments below or on Facebook!

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