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Easing Into the Manager's Hot Seat
Ann Geier
Publish Date: August 7, 2008   |  Tags:   Staffing

You're a great nurse, an outstanding employee and your manager has recognized leadership qualities you may not know you had. Congratulations! You've been promoted from staff nurse to facility manager. More responsibility, more money and a big red target on the door of your new office that your former colleagues and surgeons are sure to take aim at. Here's where to turn for advice:

Mentors. You should never be put in the position of learning the core requirements of your new position through on-the-job training. Sure, you'll need to develop your own management style and grasp the nuances of managing others through experience, but the manager's chair isn't the place to try to figure things out without guidance.

Your facility's management — physician-owners, corporate partner consultants or administrator, for example — should orient you and teach you the skills you lack. If your direct manager doesn't have the know-how to help, she should provide you with access to others who do. Above all else, your facility's ownership or higher management should be your supporter and advocate.

Peers. Are there other managers in your facility who are willing to share their knowledge and help you get acclimated to your new responsibilities? They're invaluable resources. Never be afraid to ask your peers for help. I can't emphasize that enough. I've seen it all too often: administrators or managers who are too proud or too stubborn to admit they don't understand a clinical or business concept. The stress and pressure of trying to survive alone become too much, leading to burnout and perhaps a career change. When that happens, our industry loses a leader.

National associations. Venture beyond your walls and develop your networking skills at national association meetings — the AORN Congress, ASCA's annual gathering or ASPAN's conference, to name just a few. Negotiate travel to national and local meetings into your contract when you're promoted. Some small-minded managers won't let their employees attend meetings that would teach them new skill sets and improve their career potential. Make sure you attend a national meeting once a year and head to state and local meetings regularly. Your facility should cover registration fees for and travel to national meetings. Attending local meetings may not involve exorbitant travel expenses, but it does require payment of annual membership dues. Your facility should pay those dues.

Industry literature. You must have a working knowledge of national clinical standards, government regulations, worker safety policies, accreditation requirements, human resource laws and fair labor standards. As a manager, you must have the credibility to address issues that deal with all of those topics. Sounds like a lot, right? It is. But cherish the chore. The literature will give you the knowledge and tools needed to perform your job better.

Don't go it alone
Does stepping into a management role come easily and naturally? Not likely. Former colleagues will look at you as "one of them (management)" while surgeons may still expect you to make their lives easier, instead of having the facility's best interests in mind. The exact traits that scored you the promotion might be sneered at by the peers you left on the front line. Seek help. It's yours for the asking.