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5 Leader Coaching Conversations to Engage Young Nurses

Publish Date: March 24, 2021


Millennial and Gen Z nurses, in particular, are looking for a different kind of leader—one who coaches and supports team members to be their best, according to Rose Sherman, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, the author of The Nurse Leader Coach and editor-in-chief of Nurse Leader for the American Organization for Nursing Leadership.

Here are five important conversations Sherman suggests any good leader coach should initiate to tap into staff nurses’ individual goals.

  1. Start the Conversation
    To get the best from your team as a leader coach, you need to be strengths-focused versus just pointing out deficits in performance or staff weaknesses, Sherman advises. “Leader coaches also know that the best outcomes will happen when staff are involved in setting their own goals and are given encouragement.”

  2. Professional Development
    Talk to a nurse about how he or she plans to grow in professional practice, Sherman suggests. This can include coaching on possible ways they can build expertise in learning activities that focus on skills development, critical thinking, and assessment. “Even simple approaches to advancement such as time organization can be valuable topics for coaching discussions.”

  3. Career Development
    These coaching conversations should focus on career opportunities in a nurse’s specialty and how they can work to achieve these opportunities. Sherman shares an example of a nurse who wants to try for a leadership position but needs more skills to succeed in the role. Rather than pointing out her deficiencies, a leader coach works with the nurse to build a plan toward leadership development and commits to regular meetings to provide feedback.

  4. Performance Management
    These are tougher conversations that occur around areas of performance that need improvement such as time and attendance or how a nurse manages interactions with peers, professional colleagues and patients, Sherman notes.

  5. Resiliency Coaching
    Talking about how to reduce a nurse’s stress and anxiety is important to avoid burnout by sharing evidence-based resiliency strategies such as more sleep, exercise, or better nutrition.

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