Musings of Management & Maintenance

by Nursetopia on March 15, 2011

I learned in nursing school that nursing management and nursing leadership are not the same. Indeed, they are not.

I have the opportunity – yes, opportunity – to work in both roles in my current position. I must say, I much rather prefer leadership to management.

Along the same thought, I have worked hard over the past nine months to reach a healthy BMI. I am still working towards my goal, but I am not looking forward to the “maintenance” phase after I reach that goal as much as I thought I would.

Management. Maintenance. They are very similar. It is about the routine, working through the minutia, making sure everything continues on. Give me the brainstorming and the visioneering and risk. You can have the payroll tasks and report creation and the status quo. Let me step on the scale and see a two-pound loss. Don’t waste my time with a zero week after week.

Yet, management gets a bad rap, often viewed as less than aspirational. Who wants to be a manager? Why would you want to be a manager? Well, someone needs to do all the “routine” things. Someone needs to be concerned with efficiency. Someone needs to create reports so others know what is happening in regards to programs, staffing, satisfaction, and funding. Someone needs to review files for accuracy. Someone needs to evaluate programs for effectiveness. Someone needs to facilitate meetings to make sure groups are working in harmony. (I didn’t say they had to be deathly meetings.) Someone needs to calculate, check, and submit payroll. (Believe me, screw up payroll and you’ll be hearing about it as the manager.) On and on and on.

Maintenance is definitely not a sexy topic, either. No one ever talks about maintaining a healthy weight. It is an afterthought, if even reached. No one says, “Once you reach a healthy weight you are going to continue to exercise for five days a week and still think about everything you put in your mouth. You won’t lose any more weight, but you will continue to look and feel great because your body was designed for healthy nutrition and physical activity.” No!

Why is this true for management and maintenance? Because they both lack final gratification; they are continual processes. There is no limelight. There is no risk-taking adrenalin rush. Do the job once, it will be there again the next day, week, or month. Great managers make this mundane stuff look easy – like anyone can do it. But don’t be fooled. Management is a skill, a learned profession. I admit – I always looked up to proclaimed nurse leaders more than nurse managers. Until I became a manager myself, that is, and noticed my own managerial deficiencies.

I still love the leadership aspects of my position more than the management requirements, but I respect the management functions much more now. I hope the same is true in a few months when I hit my personal health maintenance phase. Continuing on…

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