HealthAugust 17, 2016

10 strategies for nurse leadership role transitions

Follow these approaches for successful change management when planning and executing organizational change initiatives.

With nursing leadership turnover at an all-time high, health care organizations need to think about their succession planning and talent management practices. Facilitating quick and effective leadership transitions is good not only for the new leader but also for the institution and its people.

A recent article in the Journal of Nursing Administration (“Leadership Transitions and the First 90 Days“) offers 10 principles for Successful Leadership Role Transitions. From the nurse's perspective, here are some strategies that nurse leaders can employ to ensure success when entering a new position.

Principle 1: Prepare yourself. Make a mental break from the position you're leaving.

New leaders must open themselves to new thinking. Learn as much as possible about your new role and organization.

Principle 2: Expedite your learning. Take initiative to understand structures, processes,

systems, services, and technologies uniquely associated with your new role.

Principle 3: Match strategy to situation. Customize your leadership strategy based on each situation faced. As a rule of thumb, new leaders benefit from listening, observing, understanding, and evaluating the organization then later implementing change strategies.

Principle 4: Secure early wins. Achieving results early in a new leader’s tenure builds credibility. Addressing problems with timely solutions signals that good things are happening, spreads positive energy, and creates momentum.

Principle 5: Negotiate success. Create a productive working relationship with your new boss. To facilitate success in the role, understand expectations, clarify priorities, identify resources, outline onboarding plans, discuss working styles, and set targets for personal development.

Principle 6: Achieve alignment. New leaders must evaluate existing structures, processes,

and outcomes to ensure integration with strategic imperatives. Understanding the

strategic plan, the new leader ensures that current systems are in place to achieve results. Recognize obstacles and target resolutions.

Principle 7: Build your team. Get to know your team members. Within the first 90 days, new leaders evaluate, align, and move team members toward a new reality. As a new leader, you'll be making tough personnel decisions, selecting new individuals to join the team, and strengthening the existing team.

Principle 8: Create coalitions. Establish internal and external alliances to achieve goals. Early identification of individuals whose cooperation is required will go a long way to cultivate relationships needed to advance change.

Principle 9: Keep your balance. Transitions may predispose you to professional disruption and necessitate working hard to maintain personal energy and equilibrium. Establish supportive relationships, incorporate reflection time, maintain work-life balance, and stay healthy. Tapping into a personal network for advice can make a difference.

Principle 10: Accelerate everyone. One of your jobs will be to help propel multiple stakeholders within the organization, including bosses, peers, and direct reports. To accelerate, everyone requires the new leader to get up to speed quickly.

Thoughtful planning during leadership role transitions can help ensure success and longevity. Always look for new opportunities to grow and develop, personally and professionally. A new leadership position can be exciting and full of potential.

If you've made the leap to leadership, how are you navigating this new world?

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