Successful managers don't just happen; they're created. To become one, you'll need dedication, experience, and a willingness to grow both professionally and personally. All managers started where you are right now. Before you step up, focus on these key areas:
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1. Consider educational requirements. Does your education meet your facility's requirements for management positions? Many now require a BSN as the minimum criterion. If you need more education to pursue your goals, now's the time to get it.
2. Assess your business know-how. Tally up what you know and where you're deficient. To fill the gaps, ask your nurse-manager what books to read.Also recognize the difference between managers and leaders: Managers focus on results and the business aspect of an organization; leaders focus on helping their people achieve. Learn to do both and you'll become an exceptional manager.
3. Improve your communication skills. A manager's most valuable skill is the ability to communicate. How well do you listen to others? And do people listen to you or tune you out? Are you direct and assertive or long-winded? Do you tend to keep quiet rather than rock the boat? Improving your communication skills helps demonstrate leadership, a commitment to personal growth, and respect for yourself and others.As a manager, you'll need to learn how to clearly communicate your views to your supervisors and also how to convey business goals to staff nurses. The more confidence you have in your skills, the better you can communicate.
4. Develop management qualities. Managing isn't easy, although great managers make it look that way. Make a list of the most important qualities, such as dependability, empathetic listening, and objectivity, that you think managers need. Then if you feel deficient in those qualities, start developing them in yourself. If you think you aren't a good listener, for example, envision how you'd act if you were, then make a habit of acting that way. Eventually, it'll become natural for you.Next, picture yourself as a manager. How would you be different than who you are today? What can you do differently now to prepare yourself for your new position? In what ways might you need to grow enough to step into a manager's role?
5. Display leadership skills. It doesn't matter whether people consider you a friend. In fact, friendships can interfere with your ability to lead effectively. Others must see you as competent and confident; you must show respect for others, teaching them how you wish to be treated as a leader by how you treat them.To make yourself stand out as a leader-as someone to be taken seriously-you need to take yourself seriously. If you can't say no to any request, for instance, you won't succeed. Instead, you'll find yourself working too many hours and burning out quickly. This fate awaits many managers who don't learn to delegate or say no to things outside their scope of responsibility.
6. Model professional values. Like it or not, moving into management opens you up to public scrutiny. Managers personify the facility's values as well as their personal values and integrity-and employees are professional "boss watchers." You'll need to monitor how you behave, what you say, and how you treat others.
7. Share your goals with your manager. When discussing your career desires, ask your manager these questions: What challenges does she see for you? What challenges did she face-or does she continue to face? What does she recommend for you? For example, can she identify areas for development?Depending on her answers, consider whether to pursue a career change in your facility or to look elsewhere. If you've been in your current position for a while and have a reputation as a skillful clinician, you may have trouble getting others to see you as management material. Consider developing a different reputation at a new facility.
8. Seek support. As a new manager, you won't be alone. Many facilities offer formal or informal mentors to support you. Some facilities pay for professional coaches as a benefit, and a few even have internal coaches. Use the resources available in your facility and any tuition reimbursement offered to help you develop the skills you need to succeed. For example, enroll in business courses on budgeting and finance, leadership skills, or health care systems and management.The more you learn about strategy, people, and the bottom line, the more rewarding you'll find a management position. We need leaders who can improve nurses' situations and advocate for patient safety and care. We need you. Are you ready?