Talking to your Nurse Manager: How to be heard and bring about change

Medical-Speech-Bubble-Icons-700x700-JPGDepending on your workplace, talking to your manager may be no big deal. In some facilities, though, it is like approaching a lion in the wild.

You have to be able to talk to you manager, though. Sometimes, you need to draw attention to something they are not seeing or stand up for yourself to get what you and your patients need.

Managers have a lot of jobs on their plate, but they should always make time to talk to a staff nurse. If not, you may have a unit that isn’t going to change, and you may need to find another job.

Whether you are afraid of your manager or on good speaking terms, here are a few tips to follow when you need to make your voice heard.

Find the Right Time

The right time is when your manager can give you their full attention.

If you walk past their office and see that they are alone, you may try popping your head in to ask if they could offer a couple minutes of their time.

However, this may not be the most effective way to get into see your manager. The best course of action is to set a formal one on one to ensure you have their full attention.

If you can’t do either, don’t confront your manager in front of everyone else, because that is unprofessional. Also, don’t lose your temper or raise your voice. Doing so will only make it more difficult to communicate your point.

Remember: Your Manager is not your Friend

No matter how friendly and open your manager is, they are not your friend. You might have their confidence, go out for drinks with them, or receive their help on the floor, but don’t mistake that for friendship… particularly in the workplace.

If you do something wrong, they must discipline you, no matter how close the two of you are. If you talk to them about something they cannot or will not change, they will have no problem shooting you down, ignoring you, and telling you they can’t do anything.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your manager is your friend. They try to keep the mood on the floor light, and it may seem like you could say anything to them. However, they have a job to do just like you do.

In the end, they have their priorities, and your situation may not be an issue they’re willing or able to address. Don’t take their surface friendliness as a deep and lasting connection.

Don’t go over your manager’s head . . . unless it is really, really serious

If you decide to go to your manager’s manager, you’d better make sure you are ready for a backlash. You will instantly become your manager’s least favorite worker, and it could cause tension in the workplace.

However, if the situation involves patient safety, hazardous materials control, or abuse of the staff, you may need to go over their head. It won’t be fun, but if you manager ignores you when you try to bring up these topics, you have a duty to protect your patients and co-workers.

Certain conversations can be difficult to have with your manager, especially if they’re intimidating. Nevertheless, remember that they are your boss and are often the only ones that can fix the issues you are having.

Sometimes someone needs to take the leap and confront the boss. If the situation is particularly bad, that person may be you.

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