Tips to get along with your NUM

Politics on the ward don’t always run smoothly but if your relationship with your Nurse Unit Manager is suffering, work can be especially challenging.


So what steps can you take to improve the way you interact with your manager?

We asked Nurse & Midwife Support for their top tips.

Don’t think your manager needs to be your friend, however, you should respect each other and develop a functional working relationship that includes:

Positive regard

Healthy relationships involve us seeing negative things the other person has done as honest mistakes or due to difficult circumstances, and attribute positive things as the result of the other person just being a good person, due to hard work, or other positive character traits.

Listen with compassion

Listening to hard to hear information with compassion and not stepping into judgement will support a functional relationship with you manager.

When your manager delivers hard to hear information such as budget cuts or roster changes don’t shoot the messenger!

Part of their job is to communicate information. If you are confused about the information or the rationale for the proposed change respectfully ask for more information.

“I understand that this needs to happen but I don’t understand why, are you able to share more information?”

“Can we put our heads together to consider a different way to save money?”

“I have another idea for how the roster could be changed.”

Offer support. Ask for support

What nurse/midwife doesn’t need support at some stage of their career. Nurses and midwives do stressful and often challenging work.

“I’ve noticed you are busy can I assist you in any way?”

“Are you OK?”

“I am having a difficult time could I please make a time to talk to you?”

“I need your support.”

Go to the NUM/MUM with the solution not just the problem

Everyone loves a solution. Your manager will appreciate the fact that you have the solution to the problem you want solved.

“I need to bring this to your attention. This is what I think we should do about it” “What do you think?”

Communicate effectively

When you make a request or deliver information be clear, concise and open to hearing a different view or opinion.

Follow up any verbal request with an email…further to our discussion today I request…….

You may need to be assertive about your request but don’t be aggressive.

Think about how you may be prepared to compromise.

Know your bottom line.

It’s Ok to call bad behaviour

Bad, rude or disrespectful behaviour is not OK.

“Please don’t talk to me that way it’s not consistent with the values of the organisation.”

“This clearly isn’t a good time for you. I’m ending this discussion and would be prepared to meet with you when we can have a respectful discussion.”

Don’t be a tea room gossip

Don’t talk about your manager in a negative way in the tea room or behind their back to another colleague.

Make a time to talk to your manager directly.

If you need to debrief or rehearse the discussion- talk outside of work or phone Nurse & Midwife Support for support and strategies.

What if I put these strategies in place and still don’t get along with my manager?

Despite all these strategies you still may not get along with your manager: that is a tough place to be.

Keep a journal about how you are feeling, what you think the issues are and your solution for how you could improve the relationship.

Don’t keep the journal at work-leave it at home.

This will assist you to understand the issues and develop a strategy for improvement.

Phone Nurse & Midwife Support 24/7 anonymous, confidential and free and discuss the issue with a nurse or midwife who understands what you are feeling and will support you with objective strategies to improve the relationship.

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