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How Can I Create a Ripple Effect as a New Director of a Unit?

Question

I recently became the new director of a med/surg/peds unit. I believe I am in fact the third or fourth unit director; needless to say, the staff has been through many changes. I am passionate about nursing, and I was hoping you could comment on how I can start a “ripple effect” of positive attitudes.

Answer

Role model, role model, role model! Ask staff what they want the unit to be like. Have them describe what a good unit looks like to them. Then create a unit action plan to make this unit a reality. Get some quick wins and publicize them in a way that isn’t self- promotional but informational. This is key. Reward and recognize the behavior you are looking for in your employees. Likewise, don’t hesitate to make quick decisions about those with poor attitudes. When a staff member brings up a problem, always ask for her solution before offering yours. Finally, remember that perseverance is important. A cultural transformation that can be sustained will not happen overnight, but your staff will change their attitudes and behaviors if you stay the course. In fact, one of the best ways to change attitudes is to send the names of staff to senior leaders and ask them to recognize employees. When you position staff in a positive light, they will do the same for you.