You’ve noticed one nurse is doing exceptionally well. They go above and beyond. First to arrive. Last to leave. You’ve often said to yourself, “she (or he) is ready for more.” Maybe they are ready for a promotion to unit manager. On the other end of the spectrum, you have another nurse who always seems to be slacking. Documentation is never complete, seemingly always missing the important aspects of patient care. Medication passes are still late. Their communication is subpar, causing delays in the continuity of care. “These millennial nurses are lazy,” you tell yourself. Perhaps you need to let your slacker go? Or maybe they are very close to coming out on the other side but need help improving their weaknesses and developing their strengths. This is where you put your leadership skills (or lack of) to the test. Millennial nurses need more than a manager. They need a leader. As a leader, it is your responsibility to cultivate the strengths of your staff–enabling them to gain confidence. Choosing to help your employees grow, empowers them to take on more responsibility and make better decisions–millennial nurses included.
Help each employee–individually–develop skills. Professional growth is high on the list for millennial employees. Take the time for one-on-one development. One nurse may be great at documentation but could use training in proper communication. Ask him or her to give other nurses tips on thorough documentation. Not only are you acknowledging this nurse’s strength, but you are allowing him or her to work on a weakness. Let your nurses know that you recognize their strengths! Acknowledge them! Create an environment that encourages your nurses to grow and develop new skills. Provide them with the tools and resources needed to be strong nurses. Make courses and training available–free of charge if possible– and accessible. Schedule the sessions for multiple days and times.
Delegate certain tasks. These tasks should be tasks that help each nurse grow in their weak areas. Some nurses may require these instructions to be step-by-step. Never leave them to figure it out on their own. Be available until THEY feel they no longer need your guidance. Once they have mastered one skill, slowly give them more tasks–showing you are confident in their abilities and building trust. Remember, a competent staff reflects highly on you. Be available to your nurses by making it easy for them to ask questions or get feedback, without the fear of being bothersome. Be eager and happy to answer questions.
Set expectations from the beginning of the manager-employee relationship. What are the goals? Share short-term and long-term goals. Ask questions. Have you asked that nurse why he or she has difficulty documenting? Maybe after sitting down, you realize he or she is not completing documentation because they really don’t know how to accurately chart. His or her short-term goal may be to document on each patient, thoroughly, for a shift. Long -term goal could be for you to be able to accurately paint a picture, based on their notes, in a month’s time. Setting an end goal leaves your employees empowered. Give objective feedback regularly. 85% of millennials say they want more frequent and specific input on how they are performing from their managers. Generation Y nurses want to know how they’re doing, what they can do to improve, and if they’re doing a good job–they want to hear it.
Along with building skills, millennial nurses want access to leadership. Be available. Be supportive. Connect one-on-one. Know your nurses’ names, their roles, the shifts they work, etc. Listen to their concerns and provide feedback, ensuring that you tell them how much they’re contributing. To successfully manage millennial nurses, you need to learn to develop them. Enable your Gen Y nurses to grow professionally, develop new skills, and have access to you, when needed.