Getting the job done: Matching the right people to the right responsibility

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Getting the job done: Matching the right people to the right responsibility

After reading this article, you will be able to:

  • Identify ways to familiarize yourself with each staff member’s attributes
  • Determine successful ways to combine job positions

by Sharon Taylor, RN, MS, CIC, CPHRM, CHC

Nurse managers are used to having to do more with less, and finding staff to take on new duties to meet regulatory requirements is just part of the job. For these tasks to be performed effectively, you must match the right people together with the right responsibilities.

As the declining economy has led to staff shortages across many organizations, hospitals trying to figure out who can do what can learn a lesson from the nation’s smallest facilities. Small hospitals have had to train staff members to perform multiple responsibilities and roles within their jobs. 

Ensuring staff members are right for the job

What should nurse managers do when they are faced with having to fit individuals to certain job functions? One way is familiarizing yourself with the characteristics and skills of staff members. Here are some suggestions to help with that process:

  • Match preferences as much as possible to fit the job functions. Although it is not possible to give everyone their dream job, you can match jobs requiring attention to detail with those individuals who have a knack for it, for example. 
  • Look for those who have natural teaching abilities. Taking the time to foster the talent of a person who seems to explain things well and doesn’t get flustered when questioned may pay off by developing a facility’s next educator.
  • Recognize when a staff member has a particular interest in an area. Perhaps someone is always volunteering, mentioning the latest article he or she has read, or wants to get to the bottom of exactly what is required to treat a patient. This person may be the next risk manager or compliance officer in the making. Given some time and a few external learning opportunities, a new case manager or wound care specialist could be born.

Ensuring employee satisfaction in a new job function 

No matter how large or small your facility, there will always be times when managers have to combine what may be two or more job responsibilities into one position. When looking to combine responsibilities, there are some critical issues that need to be addressed, such as the following:

  • Be sure employees agree with your assessment of their skills and interests. Just because you see a particular area as an interest for an employee does not mean the employee truly has an interest in this area. Take the time to validate your observations with employees and explore whether they really want to increase their involvement in this area. The organization will get a much better program when this step is performed in advance.
  • Give employees the education and support they need to perform the necessary functions of the job. There are many continuing education opportunities now available online, so access is generally not a problem. However, payment and time to take advantage of these programs may be an issue. Be sure to address this up front. Joining a professional organization is worth the money invested. 
  • Allow employees time to do the job. There is nothing more frustrating than adding new duties to employees’ work flow to help an organization meet its regulatory requirements and then saying those duties fall under “other duties as assigned” in an employee’s job description. 
  • Be flexible about time when special needs arise. For example, the arrival of the H1N1 virus required infection control practitioners to spend many hours dealing with the pandemic. Not allotting for instances such as these can lead to employee dissatisfaction and even the potential loss of a valuable staff member. 
  • Provide employees a place and the equipment to do their job. At a minimum, provide employees with a place to work, and store their materials so they are not working out of a storage box. Be sure employees have the equipment necessary to perform their job functions. In today’s environment, a computer with Internet access is a necessity. 
  • Check in with employees often. A manager’s support and assistance along the way is helpful and appreciated and may mean the difference between success and failure. 

All organizations must look for innovative ways to better serve their patients, meet regulatory requirements, and develop their staff.

Editor’s note: Taylor is director of risk management and accreditation services at Burgess Health Center, a 25-bed critical access facility in Onawa, IA. In addition to risk management, she is responsible for infection control and is the compliance officer.