1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD

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Sometimes, it's just not a good match. People often say, "You can't fit a round peg into a square hole," in these types of situations. It doesn't mean there's anything necessarily wrong with the round peg or the square hole; it simply suggests they don't work well together. This analogy translates easily into the work setting. A staff member might exhibit great strengths but doesn't "fit" into the position in which he or she currently works. As a leader, you must be able to identify this mismatch and appropriately intervene, to the benefit of both the staff member and your organization.

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Ensuring a strong connection between the employee and the department begins with the hiring process. A comprehensive interview exposes the applicant to the department's culture and its expectations. The candidate should interview with the manager, peers, physicians, and other members of the healthcare team. Questions from both the candidate and the interviewer should be open-ended and allow for lengthy dialogue. Permitting the candidate to spend a full day observing departmental activities creates a great opportunity to determine if the position is the right one. It's vital to seek guidance and feedback from others prior to making an employment offer. Peers can be very instinctive in identifying qualities in an individual that'll determine his or her success in the work environment. These techniques could help you avoid making a wrong hiring decision, which could avert serious consequences in the future.


Once the person is hired, multiple one-on-one meetings with the staff member-focusing on goal development, alignment, and achievement-are essential to ensuring a consistent level of employee engagement. Focus discussions on departmental goals and actions the staff member can take to help achieve them. If there's inconsistency between individual and departmental goals, quickly identify them and create a plan for their resolution.


It's important for you to know and understand each employee's needs so you can provide appropriate interventions. It's incumbent upon you, as the leader, to regularly assess each of your staff member's strengths and identify areas for future development. This interface fosters mentorship, timely feedback, and the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship. An honest exchange of information between you and your staff member will help sustain a long-term commitment to the organization. Documentation of these interactions provides you with an effective tool and tracking mechanism to ensure that commitments made are indeed fulfilled.


Capitalizing on your employees' strengths and minimizing their limitations can provide significant benefits to the department. By identifying the type of work your staff members desire and providing them with opportunities to excel, you'll promote a harmonious environment, improve outcomes, and enhance everyone's work experience.


Even with successful coaching and education, there might be occasions where you believe the employee should consider other career options. One of the many benefits of the nursing profession is that there's a variety of areas in which to practice. By addressing your concerns with the employee, you'll typically determine that the feeling of an inappropriate fit is mutual. Work with the staff member to find other opportunities for him or her to excel. A first step in providing assistance is to introduce the employee to other career opportunities within your organization. Provide him or her with encouragement and a caring environment during the transitional period. Offer special training, counseling, and support so that he or she can achieve success. Remember, a wrong fit isn't synonymous with poor quality.