“I think [nurses] have to have good communication skills. I'd say that's probably right up there with clinical judgment,” Marrelli, who is president of the consulting group Marrelli & Associates, Inc., and chief clinical officer at Innovative Caregiving Solutions and e-Caregiving.com, told HealthLeaders Media.
What does a good relational leader look like? According to the article, relationship-based leaders will:
- Prioritize and model connection with staff, through shared breaks, meals, and conversations. “It's an opportunity to really know each other as people because once you get there, you all communicate, everybody's willing to cover for each other, and everybody thinks they're an equally competent nurse,” Marelli told the publication.
- Check in with staff and pay attention to shifts in mood and mindset. “When a manager knows enough to say to somebody, ‘Are you OK?’ usually, people will say what's going on,” Marelli told HealthLeaders Media. “It really is all about relationships. Do we schedule time with team members when we know there's a problem going on or a concern? You know everybody's busy, but think about how ‘more busy’ you'd be if you have to go to HR to hire a new person.”
- Step in to help when staff is struggling. For example, if a nurse lacks experience in caring for a specific type of patient, a relationship-based nurse will provide the informal or formal support necessary to bridge that experience gap. “During an in-service, you can do some education and make it fun and engaging,” Marrelli advised, “so people walk out of there with a skill set that they feel better about.”
Finally, relationship-smart leaders take employee feedback seriously, even when a staff member does decide to depart from an organization. By listening carefully to complaints, nurse leaders may be able to use the information constructively to better the environment for current and future staff.
Relationship-based nursing leadership may not come naturally for everyone. But a more relational approach offers worthwhile payback: staff that are generally happier, less stressed, and more willing to pitch in and serve the team when necessary.
Supporting nurse leaders
Are you headed to Indianapolis for the annual American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) 2018 Annual Meeting this week? When you’re in the exhibit hall, stop by booth #802 and learn how Lippincott Solutions’ evidence-based software for institutions is helping nurse executives balance both clinical and business needs.