Set Your Sights on a Management Position

If you've ever thought of making a career move into management, it is worth the time to make a plan for leading your career in that direction.

Minority nurse managers are always needed, but many experts will say their numbers need to grow. Making the move to nurse manager might not be fast or easy, but if you begin taking concrete steps to improve the needed skills and gain the required education, you will get there.

One of the best ways to get started is to find someone in a management position whom you admire and just watch what they do. You can request an informal meeting to ask questions about their duties, how they achieved their success, and any tips they might have for you. And also observe them when you can. How do they interact with superiors and with subordinates? How do they dress? What qualities do others think makes that person a good manager?

Of course, you don't want to spy on them! Just make note of qualities you might want to adopt now so they become habit as you move up.

Good managers seem to balance the varied pressures of being a nurse manager well. Some of your own skills you need to assess include basic work habits like being on time, taking on extra work, taking the initiative with special projects, being open to learning new things, and recognizing the fundamental financial pressures of nursing as a business.

The route to becoming a nurse manager means you will need to demonstrate your understanding of talent management – putting the particular skills of the nurses to use in a way that will make them shine and make their work productive. Are you in charge of a committee that is looking at ways to cut down on errors? Put your most detailed nurses on the nuts and bolts of your analysis and your strongly social nurses on any patient interactions or surveys.

Good relationships are one of the building blocks for a successful team, and, just like coaching, it takes a lot of thought and planning to help it along. You have to get to know the personalities and work habits of your colleagues as well as you know your own, so you can bring out the best of everyone. Your leadership skills are strengthened each time you can make your team feel successful and encouraged, whether the results were on target or just short. And the more you are able to accomplish that, the more others will see you as a strong leader.

You also want to make sure you understand how important the bottom line is to the top echelon of the hospital. Of course, nursing is all about people, but when the top brass sees a department consistently over budget, they aren't going to be happy. In looking at your own unit, initiate ways to save the hospital money, even if it is a small way. Grasping how the overall picture sometimes lands the budget ahead of the patient, whether you agree with it or not, is essential. That is how good nurse managers can make changes that benefit both the hospital and the patient.

So if you dream of advancing to management, start with small steps now. Learn from others you admire, take classes to supplement whatever skills you are lacking, practice fine-tuning your own leadership, and step back from your day-to-day duties to envision the big picture and positive changes that would make a difference. When your opportunity comes up, you will be ready.


Management is a tough job and you need experience on it. Learn and execute. - Kris Krohn

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