1. Section Editor(s): Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM

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Have you ever worked with someone whom you counted on to complete a task or project only to discover that the person totally dropped the ball, leaving you scrambling to recover? It's even worse when that individual isn't up-front about it, doesn't seem to care, or refuses to discuss the matter.

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My guess is that this scenario resonates with most of us as a result of similar distasteful experiences in our personal or professional lives. These types of incidents can leave a trail of destruction-tempers flare, relationships are strained or broken, and reputations suffer potentially long-term consequences.


Not surprisingly, some nurses in our ranks dislike working in groups and prefer to be accountable only for themselves because they've been burned at some point by a ball-dropper. But more often than not, working in healthcare is a team sport. It's awfully hard to go it alone without the cooperative efforts of team members to share the workload.


To prevent these unfortunate experiences, consider using a few tried-and-true project management strategies. First, openly discuss the task or project with all members of the work group. Assure clarity around expectations, including individual responsibilities, timelines, deadlines, the specifics about the work product to be completed, resource availability, and the consequences of late or incomplete deliverables. Set up touch points for status updates or progress reports to enable timely action to get the assignment back on track if needed. Consider formulating a "Plan B" as a fail-safe if you experience significant barriers with the original approach.


What if you find yourself in the difficult position of not being able to follow through on a commitment? Everyone has had times when life takes an unexpected turn, such as a health or family crisis. Let the parties involved know that you can't deliver as early as possible. Offer to help problem-solve or suggest resources to assist those left to accomplish the work.


It's best to always remain self-aware about how much you can realistically take on given your current obligations. Rather than saying yes when you're overextended because you feel guilty about saying no, politely turn down projects rather than overcommitting and then coming up short. Honest communication is key. Don't fumble or make an error-keep your eye on the ball!


Until next time,


Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM

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Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2015 Vice President, Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.