We all know fresh ideas often spark long-lasting and workplace-changing solutions. Maybe it comes from a new employee who has seen different procedures, a long-time employee energized by a class, or just someone who routinely performs a task more efficiently than others. Their thoughtful suggestions can change the course of how your team works.
But how can you encourage change and good ideas when your nursing staff is pressed for time and extra funding is out of the question? One of the best ways to encourage change is to create an environment that at least accepts change as a normal step to progress, even while understanding that it just isn't easy to do things differently.
What can you do as a nurse leader to encourage your staff through changes?
1. Encourage Innovation
Establish a regular time to meet with employees to talk about what is working and what procedures need some tweaking. If you meet as a group, encourage everyone attending to think of one change—it doesn't have to be big—that could make your team work better.
2. Use Employee-Suggested Ideas
If possible, use some of your employees ideas. They are the ones in the trenches, and they have good ideas but often lack the authority to implement them. If you need more information ask for it. But if you make it a regular habit to incorporate their suggested and workable ideas, your employees will feel heard. When it is time for the big changes, they will feel more like part of the process and less like changes are something being done to them.
3. Explain New Changes
Let's face it – change is hard. But when you work in the fast-paced career of nursing, change can be a stumbling block. When you have a routine and have to implement something new, you are bound to get bogged down in the details. But if you know the reasoning behind a change (like moving equipment or changing charting to save time), it is easier to work through the initial struggles. If you are making changes, explain the reasons to your team in concrete terms to let them know how each of their actions impacts the bigger picture.
4. Celebrate the Victories
Good for your team if a new idea has made a positive difference! Don't let that go by unnoticed. Let everyone, including your boss, know that your staff made your particular facility better and why. Let your staff know you appreciate their efforts, their willingness to try something new, and their determination to make improvements, no matter how difficult the road is to get there. Even the smallest victories should be acknowledged with a note at the nurses' station or with a basket of fruit or a box of candy for everyone to share. Recognition of a job well done is always welcome.
Change might be inevitable, but it doesn't have to always be painful. An environment that welcomes new ideas and encourages working together for the greater benefit of the team will have greater success when big changes are necessary.