Helping Selfish Nurses to Step Up
Reminding your team that the mission comes first
Sean hates to follow Audrey because he knows nothing will be done with their patients during her shift, and she’ll give him excuse after excuse. “I was so busy” is a refrain she repeats like a broken record, although Sean knows for a fact that she spends a lot of her time on her phone, playing games and posting on Facebook. Not only is he suffering, the patients are too.
I once worked with a nurse whose primary goal during a 12-hour shift was to NOT get an admission. She would do everything she could to delay transferring or discharging her patient until 30 minutes before the end of her shift.
Whenever I was in charge, I constantly reminded her that she needed to move her patients so that she could admit a postoperative patient who was waiting for the bed, but she gave me every excuse in the world for not doing it.
One day, after a litany of her evasions and rationalizations, I walked up to the receiving unit and found that the bed had been ready for hours and the receiving nurse had never gotten a call.
UGH! It’s still infuriating to think about all the time and energy I spent trying to coax her into doing her job — and how much time it wasted for patients in the recovery room who were waiting for beds and the chance to see their families.
Putting Mission First
A while back, I read an article by Michael Useem in Harvard Business Review about lessons we can learn from the military about teamwork. This particular passage really struck me:
“After dinner at the Quantico officers’ club, a Marine general explains to the MBA students that in combat a commander must unequivocally commit to two objectives: (1) Accomplish the mission, and (2) Bring all your people back from the battlefield, whatever their condition. Mission first, then team, then self.”