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Tips for Talking to Your Nursing Manager About Your Work Needs

March madness might be here, but that doesn’t mean your workplace has to participate. Often, nurses feel like their shifts are full of chaos, exhaustion, and unrealistic expectations from their managers or patients. When this happens, you should discuss the problems with your manager, who can be a powerful advocate on your behalf. To make the conversation as productive as possible, here are some powerful tips for talking to your nursing manager to create a workplace without madness.

Talking to Your Nursing Manager Begins Simply: Schedule a meeting

No one likes a serious conversation being sprung on them. Most of us know the anxiety of a “can we talk?” text in our personal lives. Instead of metaphorically sending that text to your manager by stopping them in the hallway or breakroom, email them to set up a meeting.

With a formal meeting, you both can prepare for the conversation and be in the right headspace for problem-solving. When preparing for the meeting, consider:

  • What problems are you currently facing

  • How your manager could help

  • External resources that could help solve the problem

  • How can you vocalize the problems you’re experiencing, so they come across in the best way possible

Express problems in an honest, nonconfrontational way

When expressing your concerns, it’s important to do so in a non-confrontational way. There’s a good chance your manager isn’t aware of the issue. Approach the conversation from a point of informing them, not from an accusatory angle.

That said, you also don’t want to downplay the problem either. Don’t be afraid to be honest and open up about your needs. In our interview on navigating understaffed workplaces, we discussed how many nurses feel uncomfortable asking for the support they need–and how Denise Jones, the Director of Nurse Relations for HireMe Healthcare, felt more supported in her CNA role once she asked for support.

Let’s say you are working the night shift four nights a week, and it’s understaffed every single week. Instead of complaining to your manager about how the understaffed shifts are and how they don’t appreciate you, you should approach the problem from a place of curiosity. Try saying: “Hey, I’ve been feeling exhausted since the night shifts recently have been understaffed. Is that a problem we can try to fix?”

Assume they’re working with you

Along with being non-confrontational, you also want to treat your manager like an ally. When you assume they have good intentions and are an advocate on your behalf, the conversation is more likely to be constructive than combative.

To get yourself in the right headspace, jot down some traits you appreciate about them. You can even bring these things up at the beginning of the meeting to set the stage for a collaborative, open conversation.

Offer solutions

Before going into a conversation with your manager, brainstorm a couple of solutions to the problem. By providing solutions, you’re being helpful in resolving the problem instead of adding another complaint to their plate.

And trust us, we understand that you don’t want the solution to add another thing to your plate. Here are some easy solutions you can suggest for common nursing problems that don’t make it a project for you to take on:

  • Understaffed workplace: post open roles on HireMe Healthcare to fill them faster

  • A lack of support for nurses: check out the free LeadForCare program, which offers resiliency-building modules for nurses

  • Long back-to-back shifts: your manager could work with healthcare administration to change the shift schedule so it’s more equitable

Consider their response

At the end of the day, your manager is there to support you. They should create a friendly, open workplace where nurses can do their jobs without feeling burned out and under-appreciated. If you bring up an issue with your manager and they don’t seem supportive, or they say things will change, but nothing does, it might be time to find a new nursing role.

Luckily, plenty of green-flag employers are listed on the free HireMe Healthcare app. Download the app today to find your next (healthier) nursing role


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