1. Carlson, Elizabeth Ann

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Sigma Theta Tau International has published three "Nurse Manager's Guide to..." in 2013. Each book costs U.S. $29.95. All three books offer useful information and have a place on a nurse manager's to-read list.


The Nurse Manager's Guide to an Intergenerational Workforce by Bonnie Clipper is an excellent book for any nurse working today. This book is 152 pages long and well-referenced. Although this book is directed at nurses working in hospitals, the content is applicable to any work context. There are 7 chapters and each chapter concludes with a summary and references. In addition, each chapter contains figures and tables and key points are highlighted in sections labeled "Note." Clipper supports the tables and figures with a detailed explanation but most tables and figures are self-explanatory and the key content is very accessible through a perusal of the tables and figures alone.


Because the book is about the current intergenerational workforce, Chapter One gives an overview of the four generations discussed throughout the book, the Traditionalists (the greatest generation/silent generation/veterans), Baby Boomers (boomers), Generation X (Xers), and Millennials (nexters/Gen Yers/echo boomers), and why this changing workforce is important to all nurses working today. Interesting tidbits are included throughout the chapter such as "Which Generation Is the Most Socially Conscious?" (p. 8).


Chapter Two is "Understanding the Generations." This chapter alone is a reason to read this book. The author has synthesized what demographers and other writers have stated about the four generations into readable and useable 32 pages. The author uses tables effectively to compare and contrast the four generations resulting in content. From my perspective, this approach makes the information more easily remembered than the manner in which the same information has been presented previously in other documents. The author even tells the reader what a "cusper" is and what their unique skills are. The author relates how each generation views themselves, their world, and their work to situations commonly encountered at work and how and why each generation may have a different response.


Chapter Three is about communication and self-expression and is not the type of content I would expect to see in a book for managers. However, the information about how each generation communicates differently is very useful content and is a pearl hidden in this book. The differences are logical once presented to the reader. The insight in this chapter, however, is how these communication approaches manifest themselves in day-to-day interactions. One point that was remarkable is how each generation has an expected response time and how that affects timeliness of response to a question expected by different generations. Similar "gems" are found throughout this chapter.


Chapter Four looks at transition, performance management, and succession planning. Once again, each generation approaches these aspects of life and work from a different perspective. Orientation approaches are compared and contrasted for the generations. Issues such as who to have precept a new nurse is viewed through the lens of the differences between generations. Generational differences related to performance and coaching are presented. A key issue for nursing, that of succession planning, is discussed and how each generation views career advancement and development. The difference in what motivates each generation is key in workforce development.


Recruitment and retention strategies are addressed in Chapter Five. Each generation entered the workforce in different circumstances and these effected how they were able to obtain jobs. Millennials, in most cases, are underemployed but happy to be working. Organizations, however, are acknowledging that they exist within a new recruitment world. Expectations of what a job means to a person in one generation versus another are different and effect needed recruitment strategies. Retention strategies are similarly different for each generation.


Perhaps throughout this review, you have been asking, what about the patient and family? Chapter Six is about the impact on the patient. The author asks whether the patient really cares about who his or her nurse is and answers this question through the lens of the generations and how nurses, in any generation, can make the connection necessary for good patient care. On page 133, there is a table titled "Nurse: Patient Pairing Matrix," which offers some ideas that are food for thought.


Chapter Seven offers conclusions and five very general key action points. Each of these points is worth considering, some in more depth than others, but overall, they are important take-away ideas for this book.


I highly recommend this book. It is written in an engaging style, offers solid information that is immediately useable, and offers all nurses a different way to view themselves and their coworkers.


The second book is The Nurse Manager's Guide to Hiring, Firing & Inspiring by Vicki Hess. It too is an excellent book for nurse managers. This book is 202 pages, is well-referenced, and 24 "Time Saver Tools" each related to a specific aspect of hiring, firing, or inspiring. These tools are accessed via the website associated with this book. As you may imagine, I read this book after reading the previous book on intergenerational workforce and kept noticing that what I had read previously fit into the ideas and approaches discussed by Hess in a complementary manner.


Hess looks at all that a nurse manager has to accomplish, such as improve patient care, improve patient safety, engage employees in the organization's mission and vision, manage a budget, hire staff, coach staff, discipline staff, remain on top of clinical advances and issues, and so on. The author looks at these responsibilities and frames them within the hiring, firing, and inspiring categories. This book has 15 chapters, an epilogue, appendix, and references. The chapters are grouped into 3 categories of Hiring SMARTT, The Inspiring Manager, and Resignations and Firings.


Chapters One through Six present issues and approaches necessary for bringing and having the right people in place to accomplish the goals, mission, and vision of the organization and the unit specifically. The nugget in Chapter One is how to determine the desired strengths needed in a hire. Chapter Two builds on this list of desired strengths with the creation of a list of behavior-based questions for use during interviews. Chapter Three offers a clear and unbiased way to ask these questions, how to listen, and then record the responses. Chapters Four and Five talk about what to consider when reviewing all the interview responses and how to thoughtfully bring the new hire onboard.


The second category, The Inspiring Manager, contains Chapters Seven to Thirteen. Managers should read this book for this category alone. Hess introduces the reader to the "Partnership Protocol, an overarching guide for how to be an inspiring manager" (p. 61). Chapter Seven discusses that the heart of the protocol is engaged employees. Although engagement is an individual matter, managers influence their staff directly and indirectly through the creation of a culture of engagement. Hess has created a performance platform to enable the manager to remember the basic steps for managing performance. Chapter Eight discusses how to align the mission, vision, and values of the organization with the roles and expectations of the staff and how this is a key responsibility of the nurse manager. Chapter Nine is about fostering open communication and dovetails nicely with the content in Clipper's book on intergenerational workforce. Different communication methods are presented and when one method is better than another. The coaching communication discussion is very helpful and offers some practical, easy-to-use ideas. Chapter Ten looks at how to create and build relationships that segues into Chapter Eleven about supporting team members and how that is everyone's responsibility, not just the manager's job. What was very useful about this chapter was it looks at the myriad of ways support manifests itself and how one builds upon the other. Chapter Twelve discusses encouraging growth and development. Once again, the author offers a few helpful tools to assist the staff member and the manager in determining how to support and provide growth and development opportunities for their staff. The final chapter in this category, Chapter Thirteen, is about taking care of yourself so you can maintain your momentum and sanity.


The third category, Resignations and Firings, are discussed in Chapter Fourteen, Voluntary Resignations, and Chapter Fifteen, Involuntary Terminations. The content presented in these two chapters is useful and does offer some new ways to look at the process and resulting workforce. The book concludes with the appendix that has all the tools and templates mentioned throughout the book collated in one convenient location. I would recommend this book to new managers and any manager who would like to reconceptualize the hiring, firing, and inspiring process currently being used.


The third book, The Nurse Manager's Guide to Budgeting & Finance, by Al Rundio is a good "starter" book for someone new to budgeting and managing a budget. This book is 140 pages in length. This book offers clear and understandable descriptions and explanations of why a budget is needed, how to use one to manage, how to build a budget, and what to look for in budget reports. Chapter One presents what a budget is, why a budget is necessary, and how a budget is used in conjunction with the other roles of a manager, those of planning, monitoring, and controlling. Chapter Two offers a clear, understandable, and surprisingly complete explanation of how healthcare reimbursement works, considering it is only 20 pages long. Rundio includes the need for political action on the part of nurses because reimbursement decisions are a result of policy.


Chapter Three presents an overview of the primary types and forms of budgets nurse managers encounter on a regular basis. Budget-development work flow is the topic for Chapter Four. Both Chapters Three and Four present very general information. Chapter Five walks the reader through building an operating budget in general terms. Key metrics are defined, as well as, how to calculate employee-related costs. The metrics and calculations offered are an excellent starting point for a new manager to understand the components used to calculate costs. The end of Chapter Five has a section "Busting Budget Myths," which all nurses, not just managers, should read.


Chapter Six is about capital budgets. Importantly, the author presents why capital investment is needed. Components to review are efficiency, volume, and cost and how these three components are used by the nurse manager to determine problems and identify corrective measures to improve performance. The tools to identify the positives and negatives of a budget are the various budget reports available to the manager. Each budget report looks at an aspect of the operation and thus must be reviewed collectively. Rundio offers six examples of commonly used budgets and explains the purpose for each report. Chapter Nine offers five key action points related to budgeting that support that has been discussed in previous chapters.


One point Rundio makes with which I wholeheartedly agree is the need to understand the "lingo" or basic financial terms. As the author puts it, you wouldn't be confident in the skills of a surgeon if she used a different term for scalpel, would you? Similarly, as the nurse manager works with the finance department or budget manager, using the correct financial terms offers credibility to you. Thus, a glossary has been included that is comprehensive and understandable.


This book is a useful first step for a nurse new to budgets and managing using a budget. The author credits Finkler, S. A., Kovner, C. T., & Jones, S. (2007). Financial Management for Nurse Managers and Executives. St. Louis, MO: Saunders, with laying the foundation for his knowledge of budgets and finance. I would concur that this book is an excellent source of financial and budgeting knowledge.