ASHHRA: 'Jerk Bosses' Derail Nurse Retention Strategies

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , September 13, 2011

4. Use RJP -- Realistic Job Previews -- so potential new hires completely understand what they are getting into. Make sure they understand that they will probably be working most holidays, perhaps evenings, and that much of what they will encounter in their first year of nursing may not resemble what they anticipated when they were in nursing school. "It is why 27% of new hires don't last a year. They don't get it. What can you show them that smacks their senses," Finnegan says.

5. Implement tipping point interviews.  Make sure that supervisors have regularly scheduled "tipping point" interviews with new hires to gauge progress and satisfaction. "You can't just say 'good luck.' You can't just walk down the hall and say 'How ya doing?' That's a greeting, not a meeting," Finnegan says.

6. Develop manager relationships that foster trust. "Think of the role that trust plays because it is in everything,"

7. Train managers to conduct "stay interviews" with staff at least once a year. Find out what makes them happy. What concerns they have. Try to address the issues they raise. If an issue can't be resolved, explain why. "The irony is that in marketing you are always asking the customer what they want, but we don't do that with employees," Finnegan says. "The fear is that they will want more money. No. They won't. But they will be thrilled that somebody has asked."


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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2 comments on "ASHHRA: 'Jerk Bosses' Derail Nurse Retention Strategies"

Beth Boynton, RN, MS (9/19/2011 at 5:17 PM)
Leadership needs to support nurse managers with resources to hire enough qualified staff and listen to the ones they hire. THIS will improve middle manager's retention stats and trust. Beth

Phyllis Kritek (9/15/2011 at 7:21 PM)
As a registered nurse, I was startled to read this report of a presentation that used the demeaning term "jerk" in reference to nurse supervisors, then disturbed to see that the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration had provided the speaker, Dick Finnegan, with an opportunity to do so. Reading the report, I then found a reference to "lousy hiring managers". Apparently Mr. Finnegan, CEO of C-Suite Analytics, has divined the path to certitude about the limitations of others and ways to describe these others with dismissive language. I would hope the human resource professionals present would have noted that Mr. Finnegan's approach contradicted one of their own operational principles, to deal with problematic behavior and practices rather than attack and demean persons. In a era in health care where emphasis is continually placed on partnerships, collaboration and alignment, his comments support the opposite and do so with derogatory terms. He does not note that many HR professionals are evaluated on their retention numbers and hence have a less than unbiased motive. In my work with nurse managers as a conflict engagement consultant, one of the most troublesome and frequently described conflicts they face is HR's blocking of their efforts to fire nurses they feel are not meeting standards of care. This side of the issue is never identified. Mr. Finnegan posits that HR professionals should manage nurse supervisors,at least covertly, by creating C-suite coalitions. The Chief Nursing Officer is part of the C-suite, and actually the one who manages nurse supervisors. He seems to suggest that the CNO be circumvented, with HR setting retention goals. He recommends an implicit threat: "name names" which encourages the blame/shame culture healthcare is working so hard to reverse. He also suggests that in hiring new nurse graduates one should "smack their senses". There is a sizable body of research demonstrating that the best approach to new nurse retention is well-implemented nurse intern and resident programs and competent and committed preceptors to work with the new grads. One wonders what the basis for "smacking their sense" was. Would this be recommended as an ideal message to any new employee anywhere? In spite of Mr. Finnegan's remarkably unprofessional choice of words, and the tenor of his remarks, the most amazing of his recommendations is to "develop manager relationships that foster trust"! I have to assume Mr. Finnegan apparent low opinion of nurses extends to his assumptions about our intuition and intelligence. I encourage any health professionals who have read this article to memorize the speaker's name and company and add it to your "do not hire" list.




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