Business

[Book Review] Mistakes I Made at Work

by Nursetopia on August 12, 2016

MistakesIMadeAtWork_croppedI’ve done quite a bit of reading over the last few months, so it’s time to catch up with some book review posts! If you’re looking for a “new” book to read (or not), get cozy because there are several reviews heading your way via Nursetopia. So let’s get started!

Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong is edited by Jessica Bacal; I opted for the audiobook version (narrated by Karen Saltus), which I was able to finish over about 2.5 hours while traveling. “Finish” is the correct word because I, unfortunately, have a hard time stopping any book I start; I wish I had the mental fortitude to have stopped this one, though. I kept thinking, “It will get better…one more chapter.” [sigh] It never got better. Each chapter focuses on a different businesswoman and a key mistake she indicates shifted her career in some way. I found the stories of the mistakes to be rather shallow in description at times and a bit choppy to listen to.

I was really looking forward to reading the book as I have an interest in “mistakes” and “failures” that propel entrepreneurs and innovative ideas forward. I was hoping to get encouragement from successful women’s stories of mistakes and missed opportunities, but I was only left hoping for an end to the book. I do believe the book would have been much better if the chapters were actually read by the different women, sharing their stories in their own voices.

From the Amazon reviews of this book, my opinion – to pass on Mistakes I Made at Work – is the minority voice. Still, I think there are several other books about springboard failures that would be much better investments of your time and focus.

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Under New Management

by Nursetopia on August 11, 2016

What a difference the leader makes. There are leaders I deeply desire to work alongside, and then there are leaders I would do just about anything to avoid having to work with – because I imagine it would be more like working “for” in a never-ending nightmare of egomaniacal power trips. Similarly, there are businesses that have me as a raving fan because of their culture – no doubt set and continuously influenced by a leader or many leaders; and, there are businesses I choose never to use again simply because of their lack of service or misaligned culture – again, no doubt continuously influenced by a leader or many leaders, whether they know it or not.

I’ve always been intrigued by signs to the public that include the word “management.” I laugh – or roll my eyes – every time I see a posted sign saying something along the lines of “Please close the door. Thanks, Management,” or “Please have your ID ready. -Management.” Really? Who writes that…Management?

via Flickr.com via Flickr.com

The other “management” sign that frequently catches my eye is one that always makes me wonder…Under New Management. It conveys the principle that – no matter what we may say out loud – we all know the leader matters. Still, when I see these signs, I cannot help but think of the previous leader and the current leader and which one is the better one – the one who has left or the one who is being touted by the sign. Because “new management” isn’t always “better management,” but it does remind me that the leader matters…even when it sometimes feels like that’s not the case.

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thanksSaying thank you to patients is fun. I love doing it. It’s a good thing I enjoy it – because it’s a necessity in healthcare today. Our patients are consumers; they have choices in their care, and they should be thanked for their business…yes, even if their business pays less or not at all – because one day it might or their word of mouth advertising may lead to one (or many) who might. In addition, saying thank you is considered a “must” in regards to patient satisfaction scores – HCAHPS and CGCAHPS. Perhaps your health system utilizes the AIDET principle? The “T” in that sweet-power-packed communication acronym is…you guessed it…thank you. And beyond the business and patient satisfaction score aspects, saying “please” and “thank you” is simply good manners, no matter if you’re blessed to live in a southern state or not.

When I thank patients or family members, more often than not, I express my gratitude with the following sentence: Thank you for allowing us to care for you. Somewhere the conversation may also include, It’s been our pleasure to serve you. 

Not only do theses comments express gratitude, but they also remind everyone around – including myself – of the service we’ve provided – our care. It’s a lovely note to end any conversation of thanks.

Do you tell patients and families thank you after caring for them? If so, how do you most often say it?

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The Beauty of Reflecting on Your Work

by Nursetopia on February 13, 2016

Have you ever paused to reflect on your work from previous years? Like really paused to reminisce about your life’s work – what you’ve spent your minutes, hours, and days doing? It’s self-care in and of itself.

I’ve been blogging for over five years now, and I use nifty tools like most bloggers to bookmark topics or repost content I’ve written previously. Technology is quite amazing, no? Every once in a while I’ll see someone share a link of my writing that I forgot I penned, or I will catch something in a conversation that makes me think of an article I wrote several years ago. I’ll sift back through the articles and begin re-reading my work. Strangely enough, while I write many articles in moments of emotion, sometimes I cannot even recall what caused me to write my passionate words when reading them retrospectively. And, inevitably, as I’m looking there, I begin to see moments of encouragement intended for others over the years but that equally uplift me in that moment. And just like that – I’m thankful. I’m thankful I wrote down the permanent vulnerability. I am thankful for my creative outlet of writing. I am thankful for time well-spent. I am thankful for my friends through my writing. I am thankful for my days.

The same is true for my nursing work. When I pause to self-reflect, minutes turn into the brain’s quick page-turning yearbook of highlights that lift my soul. Even the dark moments have light flecks of hope in hind sight, faded by the brilliance of much more luminescent times.

Busy-ness can eat us away, Reflection pauses time to bring energy to the moments ahead. It’s beautiful self-care we overlook all-too-frequently in today’s six-second, microwave, drive-through 140-character culture.

Pause and think about your past year, five years, decade, or score. Relish your work, and be renewed for the work ahead.

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6 Hacks to Optimize Your Leadership

by Nursetopia on September 22, 2015

I’m not an expert on time management, but over the course of 10 years in leadership, I have never had an assistant manage my schedule or emails. I squeeze a lot of goodness into jam-packed days. Students, new leaders, and those I have the privilege of leading often ask me how I get so much accomplished between work, family, volunteering with numerous organizations, church, and hobbies. Here are a few tricks I’ve incorporated into daily work to help optimize my time:

1. Always have a blank notecard and envelope on-hand. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve needed to write a quick, special note. Sometimes it’s because I’ve forgotten an occasion; other times it’s because I just learned of something happening quickly. Because I have the tools on-hand, I can always contribute in meaningful ways that align with my leadership style. Hand-written notes are rarities these days, which means anyone who gives them is quickly set apart from others. It’s an incredibly easy way to differentiate yourself. Popping a few blank notecards and envelopes into your briefcase, outer purse pocket, or work binder takes little effort with maximum opportunity.

2. Easy-access reading material is a must. There will be downtime in your day no matter how hard you try to avoid it. You should always be reading a book or a journal, no matter how long it takes you to finish it. Learning never stops. So, carry journals with you, have audio books downloaded for travel between off-site meetings, make sure you have an e-book ready for a quick chapter read when you can fit it in. You’ll whiz through your reading pile in no time…all during your “downtime.”

3. Incorporate post-meeting follow-up time into your calendar. This little jewel of a tip has been a sanity saver for me as I’ve grown in leadership and in responsibilities. Some days are  continuous meetings, and if you’re not careful, you can end up with 40+ hours of meetings and equally as many evening, early morning, and weekend hours of desk work resulting from those meetings. No thanks! Make sure you schedule follow-up time immediately after most meetings to complete your action items. This tactic can help you seek clarity throughout meetings in anticipation of completing actions following meetings, and it can also help expedite work that can easily get dropped through the proverbial leadership cracks. Even better? Complete low-level action items during the meeting as you discuss them.

4. Schedule your to-do list. I used to keep a list of everything I needed to accomplish. It worked at one time in my career, but now I cannot manage the moving pieces and deadlines of numerous strategic initiatives via a to-do list. I’ve learned that my daily calendar is the best way to set a deadline and work backwards, actually scheduling the milestone work. Covey’s “begin with the end in mind” always delivers.

5. View your calendar one week at a time. If there’s one thing nursing has taught me it’s that priorities change. The same is true in any kind of leadership. The days never look the same, so as meetings get delayed or something else needs attention, I can attack portions of the schedule later in the week or move around daily work to readjust for unexpected moments.

6. Prioritize your day the day before. The last thing I do each day is look at my calendar for the next business day. I often number my scheduled items for the day to ensure I take care of the most important work first whenever possible because – as number five pointed out – priorities change, and what sometimes feels like a priority may not be one at all. Viewing my calendar prior to the next business day helps me refocus. In addition, I often set my desk up so I can jump right into work – separating files and projects in order so I can more easily move throughout my day and work.

And while all of these hacks are great at the office, they most certainly work at home, as well. I am not quite as scheduled at home, but I always have blank notecards/envelopes with me, I am never without reading material, and the next school/work day is always prepped the night before with clothes, lunches, and backpacks. It just makes for a happy and productive day.

So, hack away and have a happy day! What tips do you have that help keep your days humming along?

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Just Ask: Getting Over the ‘No’

by Nursetopia on July 18, 2015

She Could Say NoThere once was a time in my life that I would assume some of my ideas or requests would automatically be squelched with a “no” answer. My assumption would actually limit me from even asking or discussing the request or idea. One thing is for sure -the answer will always be “no” to something that’s not asked.

I had to get over the fear of “no.” In light of many other things in work and care, being told no is not really that big of a deal, but when you’re told no over and over again, you can start to think your ideas are rubbish and simply stop generating ideas altogether. That’s not good for any organization.

“No” for the sake of “no” has never really set well with me; I have always wanted to know the why behind the answer. Most people are this way, which is why leadership communication is important to validate ideas and questions. Just because the answer is no doesn’t mean the idea or request wasn’t valuable. I’ve learned that both when I’m told no with an explanation or I do the same thing with those who follow me, often times a subsequent idea results to overcome the explanation’s barrier. It’s a beautiful thing – respectful, transparent communication.

Receiving a “no” answer is really no big deal, but it does take practice – just like everything else – to maintain professionalism and competency within the situation. “No” comes in all forms, but it mostly signifies the opportunity to grow – to research more, collect additional data, strengthen a business case. It’s a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block.

Get over your fear of “no.” Just ask.

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Doing Right by People

by Nursetopia on January 12, 2015

Nothing replaces the feeling of knowing you’ve done the “right thing” for people. No matter who knows or doesn’t know, it’s a reward like none other.

I am shocked at the number of people who think others don’t, can’t, or won’t do the right thing  in work and/or life.

Do right by people. They’ll do right by you. Even if they don’t, keep doing right by people.

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Murphy’s Laws of Nursing Leadership & Management

by Nursetopia on October 16, 2014

Oye VeyHeard the phrase “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”? Yep, Murphy’s Law is prevalent in nursing leadership and management just as it is in other areas of nursing and health care. Here are a few gold-standard Murphy’s Laws for nurse managers and leaders.

1. The day you’ve set aside and diligently blocked from meetings will be the day a stomach virus sweeps through the unit, causing severe short-staffing to the point of needing your clinical assistance for direct patient care. Good job blocking that calendar, and best wishes for “catching up!”

2. Your boss is guaranteed to call you on the one day you leave the office early. And he’ll need some numbers for a report within the hour.

3. The “Can-I-Have-5-Minutes?” conversation will take over your next scheduled meeting – that you lead – and end up with at least three action items to complete.

4. A patient will request to speak with you right as you realize you have yet to empty your bladder during the day.

5. The moment you are fully staffed, at least two team members indicate they need leaves of absence.

6. The probability of Joint Commission showing up for your organization’s unannounced survey increases with the number of days remaining until you leave for your long-awaited vacation.

7. The week after you ask team members to purge storage closets will be the one week of the decade in which something from that storage closet will be requested.

8. Minutes before your budget is due you will remember an ancillary expense that could potentially lead to a major variance.

9. The copy machine will jam and run out of toner as you try to print your presentation for the multidisciplinary board.

10. The candidate you love for the open position will be screened out of the HR system via a glitch, leading to weeks of attempted correction.

Creating these just makes me laugh. Leadership is a trip. In so many great ways.

What other Murphy’s Laws do you have in nursing leadership and management?

 

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NursetopiaMashupCroppedJust like I do with hardcopy journals and books, I tend to save up articles in my email box until I get time to binge-read. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading that I’ve saved for a while. There’s some pretty good stuff here!

Do you save articles and tweets in your email inbox, too? What’s piling up in there?

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If You Have to Give Up Something, Give Up Strategy

by Nursetopia on October 1, 2014

Be Without Strategy

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