Ask staff to help choose the right nurse manager
Ask staff to help choose the right nurse manager
Choosing the right nurse manager for your ED is a major decision — so why not invite staff to help you make it? It’s essential to involve staff in selecting their manager, argues Colleen Bock-Laudenslager, MS, RN, a Redlands, CA-based consultant who specializes in staffing. "Staff nurses want to feel their opinions count," she says. "When you offer them the opportunity to participate, you are demonstrating their added value."
If they have given input, staff will tend to be more satisfied with their manager’s performance in the future, adds Debra Stelmach, MSN, RN, who participated in the panel-based interviewing process at the Jerry L. Pettis VA Memorial Medical Center in Loma Linda, CA, where she is director of long term and extended care. "Staff have a vested interest in making things work when they have actively participated in choosing someone they can work with," she says. The system also develops leadership and decision-making skills for ED staff, she adds.
Bock-Laudenslager, who is a practicing ED nurse and former ED executive director at Loma Linda (CA) University Medical Center, used the panel-based interviewing process to professionalize nursing. "I noticed that when physicians were recruiting, they had very sophisticated search committees and search letters," she says. "I thought Why can’t nurses have the same process?’" When a nurse manager position opened up, a recruitment letter was sent to all hospitals in the state, and staff were invited to participate in the hiring decision, Bock-Laudenslager says. "The ED had faced many different challenges, and the staff felt beaten down," she says. "I felt the staff would be less critical of our decision if they were part of it."
Here are things to consider when implementing panel-based interviewing:
• Invite staff to "elect" who will represent them on the panel. A ballot is used to identify the employees the staff wants to represent them on the panel, Bock-Laudenslager says. "It is also used to identify the most important qualities they are looking for in a manager," she adds. (To see Emergency Department Nurse Manager Search Committee Ballot, click here.)
• Solicit ideas from staff. Being part of the selection process can generate unique ideas from the staff, says Bock-Laudenslager. "The staff came up with the idea of taping the interviews, using name placards during the interview, and high tea’ drinks and cookies for the interviewees," she says. "It was great to see their creativity."
• Use a scoring system. A score sheet allowed the panel to rate applicants in areas including education, clinical practice experience, and management experience. "Staff used critical thinking skills to compare and contrast the individual strengths and weaknesses of thecandidates," Bock-Laudenslager says.
• Have a second panel make the final selection. Bock-Laudenslager advises having an all-staff panel choose the final two or three candidates. The final approval can rest with a smaller panel of administrators. She cautions that staff may lose their objectivity. "In the past, I made the mistake of having a panel made up entirely of staff nurses select a nurse manager," says Bock-Laudenslager. "Since they wanted an internal candidate to get the position, they could not be objective in the review process." The staff gave their colleague almost perfect scores, while other experienced candidates were receiving very low scores, she explains. "Even though I worked hard to educate them and open up their minds, they would not be budged," she says. "I was thankful that I had given them the task of coming up with the top two candidates."
Later, the "senior panel" which included physician service chiefs, a nursing executive, and a nurse manager interviewed the top candidates using a whole new set of questions. The second panel chose the more experienced candidate. "It was a save, by leaving the final decision to the second panel," Bock-Laudenslager says. "The staff distanced themselves from me for a long time, but later they saw that the nurse from the outside as clearly the right one for them."
• Include diverse representation. If you want to have a single panel make the final decision, you’ll need to have diverse representation, Bock-Laudenslager says. "If you do it that way, you need a seasoned group of people — and not all ED staff," she says. She suggests including a staff member for every level of personnel, including a technician, nurse, secretary, and clinical nurse specialist. From outside the ED, she suggests including a nursing recruiter, a physician or medical director, and social worker. Panel members don’t always have to be from within your facility, she adds. "We actually utilized a paramedic from the EMS base station," she says. "We felt it was a good way to demonstrate community outreach and show alliance to our paramedic partners."
For more information on panel-based interviewing, contact:
• Colleen Bock-Laudenslager, MS, RN, Director, Inpatient Care, Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center, 11201 Benton St., Loma Linda, CA 92357. Telephone: (800) 741-8387 ext. 2589. Fax: (909) 777-3210. E-mail: [email protected].
• Debra Stelmach, MSN, RN, Director, Long Term and Extended Care, Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center, 11201 Benton St., Loma Linda, CA 92357. Telephone: (800) 741-8387 ext. 2003. Fax: (909) 777-3210. E-mail: [email protected].
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