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Nursing Management FAIL (Part I)

matron1When I was working in maternity, I greeted a Matron while passing her by on my way to the laboratory. She greeted back and asked me if I was enjoying the post natal ward. I quickly replied “Yes, I’m happy.” Her smile faded as though I’d blurted a vulgar word and she replied, “You’re not supposed to be happy, you’re supposed to be working hard!” Now maybe she just likes messing with people’s heads but in general, the managers all seem to live by that principle.

Management FAIL number one: Practicing negative reinforcement.

They practice negative reinforcement techniques and do everything possible to make us feel like we‘re on opposing ends, working against each other. They never hear us out and if you did speak of your preferences and needs, they’d give you the exact opposite. Your opinion has little value to them, and they love walking around with their noses in the air and a sense of exaggerated self-importance.

Management FAIL number two: Stilting career progress.

Like any oppressive leader, management has some nonsensical rule against nurses studying. I’m not sure if it’s like this everywhere else but in South Africa, there have been nurses who have had to threaten to resign in order to be given permission to further their studies. They try to blame this on poor funding but they won’t allow you to study even if you pay for the course from your own pocket. My assumption is that they don’t want nurses to study because they want to save some money. You pay less for a staff nurse who is a jack of all trades than you would for an RN. When they are short staffed, it is not uncommon practice to see an EN or sometimes even an ENA running the ward!

Management FAIL number three: Instilling false hope.

I’ve seen many great nurses fall into this trap. Management hints at the possibility of a promotion to get certain nurses to take on more responsibility than they need to. These nurses lead the department meticulously. They organize the department, iron out its problems, get working systems in place, manage staff, and take the rap when things go wrong. They carry the department gracefully and with pride and passion, only to later find that the promotion is given to someone else. The glow that once represented their quest to be rewarded for their outstanding efforts dims. No explanation given, these poor nurses have to suck it in and accept it but everything they do from then on, is done with less drive and less passion then before and the nurse in her slowly dies from acute demotivation syndrome.

“Management FAIL count” to be continued. Comments welcome!