Best Practices for Nurse Managers

Developing leadership skills can prove challenging at every level. If you are looking to move from a staff nurse position into a managerial role, balancing your unit’s operating budget can often be challenging for those who are new to managing finances within an organization. Similarly, this holds true for every new level a leader is likely to encounter as their career progresses. And while there are no cheat sheets for career growth, there are simple best practices clinical leaders can follow in order to ensure they are putting their best foot forward. Below is a list of five best practices every current or aspiring nurse manager can use to ensure they have got all the bases covered:

  1. Master your operating budget. It is essential for nurse managers to have a strong understanding of how their unit’s budget is affected by operating activities, resources, supplies and, of course, staffing in order to successfully plan and execute your unit’s day-to-day operations1.
  2. Ensure charge nurses have a strong understanding of their role. Since charge nurses are often viewed as an example of appropriate behavior to the rest of the unit, it is crucial that they have a strong understanding of the importance their role has in encouraging and motivating those around them. Setting clear expectations is a great way to ensure charge nurses are a driving force for success within your unit2.
  3. Boosting morale without breaking your budget. Budgetary constraints can sometimes have negative effects on unit morale if a unit or organization decides to cut costs. And while this is sometimes unavoidable, here are 10 cost-effective steps you can take to boost morale within your unit3.
  4. Know the difference between true leadership and management. Leaders are not defined by their titles, but rather how they motivate and engage those around them. One key to effectively leading your unit, regardless of title is to be actively involved in outlining the goals and objectives of the department and taking the appropriate measures to help it get there4.
  5. Emphasize quality patient care. As many organizations continue to focus on working out the kinks of value-based care, one thing is certain: if you want your unit/organization to be successful, high quality patient care holds the key. Fortunately for nurse managers, patient satisfaction and a unit’s culture are closely linked which means nurse managers have the ability to successfully drive good patient experiences through their leadership5.

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