In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series, I covered how setting expectations regarding communication and behavior can save you some big headaches over time. Now, let’s discuss the final tool you’ll need to have as a new director of nursing.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Success as a DON depends on a team of highly trained individuals working towards mutual goals. As the newcomer, the current team may be reluctant to work with you, but you can change that. Building an effective team takes time and patience. You need to observe the skills and capabilities of each member of the interdisciplinary team and delegate tasks suited to their strengths.
As a new DON, I didn’t have the good fortune to be blessed with a high functioning team, but I was blessed to have a team that had high functioning individuals. The team just hadn’t learned to work well together yet. There were trust issues that needed to be addressed before the team could function as well together as they did as individuals.
When building an effective team, you need to invest time in educating individual members on what an effective team looks like and how he or she might improve his or her relationship with the rest of the team. For example, if they lack communication skills or aren’t very understanding of others’ differences, you may need to help that team member address those issues. You can also use team building exercises to help build trust and improve communication. In addition, team members need to know what behaviors are expected and accepted as part of the team, and what is not. Outline your team’s values and come together to discuss how each of them can exhibit those values day-to-day.
High functioning teams can ease the load on the DON. It makes delegating easier, creates an enjoyable workplace, and even improves staff retention since teams that work well together often want to stay together.
Having tools to help you navigate through day-to-day challenges will lessen the most common frustrations faced by new DONs. Be clear about your expectations with staff, address challenging employees quickly, and build an effective team that you can comfortably delegate tasks to in order to get the work done efficiently.