Do you remember the last time you were formally thanked for a job well done?
How did it feel? Recognition feels great! It can boost your self-esteem and your confidence! It can reduce physical and emotional fatigue! It can motivate and decrease procrastination! And, it can be contagious!
What if no one noticed what you did?
How you saved the day? How you fixed a patient problem, responded quickly to a patient problem and prevented an emergency? How you helped a patient and their family cope with being hospitalized and prevented or attended to a patient complaint and now they are purring appreciation over you, but no one else noticed or said anything?
We get so busy in our day that sometimes our 8 or 10 or 12 hour shift just doesn’t seem enough. We don’t stop running all shift. I put a step counter on my pants for a few days, and there was not one shift that I didn’t come in between 11,500 and 14,000 steps – in a 12 hour shift! At the end of the day, our minds are just as tired as our bodies. And we still have to walk the 1.5 miles to the parking lot!!
Consider the idea that just as you gave 200% today, so did your team.
And before you say it, I know that not everyone on our teams really gives 200%. But most really do. It is only that 1% that barely gets by.
I believe that some of the greatest nursing leaders are at the bedside.
I work as a staff nurse and preceptor in my ICU unit. I do not do charge and I am not an administrator. At the beginning of my career and, as I remember, in college, I was not a great leader… but I noticed them. I became the fly on the wall. I watched. I got to know them. I asked questions. And I learned how to be a good leader. I really strive to be one of them. It is an ongoing evolution and one I hope I am achieving in my almost 30 years at the bedside.
What makes a great bedside nursing leader?
Here are some bedside leadership qualities I see in nurses I admire, my own nursing mentors and what I strive to achieve:
- They strive to be cheerful and positive. They know that we deal with people in crisis. They may be having a bad day themselves. But they strive to bring their best to work and their best to their team. They strive to help their team stay afloat emotionally and in spirit.
- They greet each shift with a smile and a good word. Whether they are coming on, or getting ready to leave, they always offer a smile and a greeting.
- They help their team pull together. If someone asks them a question and they are busy, they find someone else to help that nurse. They offer help without waiting to be asked. They are the ones who can pull the team in when there is a new admission, a crisis, an emergency or extra work, and everyone comes to help.
- Staff love it when they are on duty.
- They ask if anyone needs help before the shift ends.
- They don’t leave nurse mates drowning at the end of a shift.
- They are always approachable for questions, brainstorming and resources. Even if the question has been asked a 100 times.
- They love to teach. They know how to teach a new grad as well as an experienced nurse.
- They welcome new staff into the team. They make an effort to introduce themselves and get to know them. They make an effort to introduce the new person to staff, physicians and resources.
- They go out of their way sometimes to make a tough shift better… they buy dinner for the team, bring special snacks, relieve nurses for breaks, write thank you notes, write recognition notes. They make an effort to notice hard work and recognize their team.
I remember, years ago, in my first nursing job in a NICU…
I created a ‘Thank You’ picture frame with a mailbox, that nurses could drop in a recognition for their team. And if they were shy, they could make them anonymously. It was a slow go at first. And many more anonymous thank you’s than signed ones. But after a few months, the mailbox was filling up. Nurses started signing them. And I started noticing better teamwork and happier nurses.
… with a smile and a hello for my tired off-going nurse mates. I try to go around the team when I have moments and see if anyone has questions or needs help. And I don’t leave for the day without making a roundabout and seeing if everyone is caught up enough to leave – even near on time.
I love buying dinner or treats in the middle of a chaotic day.
When I precept new nurses, I will usually buy them dinner at least one night we are together. I introduce them to everyone, even the night cafeteria cashier, who knows I will always try to be there on Monday nights for the most amazing fried chicken in the world!
And I love writing recognition notes.
Sometimes I use the ones at work. Sometimes I will take a paper and draw flowers, write a note and have everyone one the pod sign it for someone that was really great! And sometimes [this is a secret, so don’t tell anyone], I just pick a name from our staff or someone I incidentally met that night and will write a ‘Thank you’ note. [I learned that from a movie called, “The Letter Writer”, a 2011 movie by director Christian Vuissa, starring Aley Underwood and Bernie Diamond. I saw it on Netflix. You can easily find it there, or maybe in libraries or on Amazon. I highly recommend it.
And so, what happens when I think I did a great, spectacular job, saved the day!… and no one noticed?
Believe it or not… Sometimes I keep it to myself and sometimes I tell someone! Depending on the situation, I do not consider it distinctively bragging. It is about sharing. And I usually will choose someone from my inner circle, who understands sharing versus bragging. I share my story, what happened and what I am proud of. And I give myself a pat on the back… and they do too.
Don’t know how to start? Let me help you say ‘Thank You’ to someone today!
Download the NWW ACTION SHEET: THANK YOU FOR A GREAT JOB!
You can print it out – cardstock is best – trim them up and share them around!
Let it inspire you to come up with your own ways to recognize your nurse mates and say, ‘Thank You’!
There is no end to the possibilities you can come up with! This Action Sheet was created in Excel. In addition, I have bought creative business card templates at office stores and printed thank you comments on them and placed them in nurses’ mailboxes.
Be creative! Have fun! Appreciation is energizing, empowering, fun and contagious!
Take the time to notice something great in your team today!
And let me be one today… who says to you… Thank you, Nightingales… for all you do. You are appreciated!
Inspire and Be Inspired, Nightingales!
All my best, Audrey