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Effective communication for nurse managers

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Tip of the month 

Effective communication for nurse managers 

At times, even the most fluent nurse manager finds it challenging to find:

  • The right words for the right person
  • To address the right situation at the right time
  • For the right reason

Often we feel that we should be able to spontaneously make magic by providing the right words for the right person at the right time, but we find ourselves lost for those words. Don’t panic; your job description does not include “must know everything all the time.”

The journey of managing and leading others does not need to be traveled alone. When you are faced with a challenging situation and cannot seem to find the words you are looking for to express your concerns or expectations, network with your peers and colleagues. Reach out in person or through a professional listserv to solicit advice. You could even consider utilizing an employee assistance program professional.

Practice what you are going to say so that you feel prepared and comfortable. Here is a scripting example that you can adapt to your specific situation:

“It is unfortunate that you made a decision to [insert whatever it is that you are addressing]. I am going to follow through on our discussion from last week, and this is now a written disciplinary action. My expectation is that this activity will immediately cease. Should it not, you will be suspended without pay while we consider your employment status. This organization will not tolerate anyone who contributes to an unhealthy workplace. Do you have any questions about what we expect from you?”


Shelley Cohen, RN, MSN, CEN, Health Resources Unlimited, Adapted with permission.