Upset NurseThe current pressures imposed in healthcare environments can make even your best nurses into difficult ones from time to time. But it’s those “pathologically” miserable nurses that can drain your whole team and cause negativity to spread like wild fire. Their passive-aggressive, negative behaviors can come off downright mean.

Nurse Leaders: how do you handle chronically difficult nurses before they wreak havoc on your team?

Follow this simple and effective 7 step plan:

  1. Discover what’s really going on in your unit. Track your staff members continuously to witness individual and team dynamics for yourself. Listen closely without over-reacting.
  2. Don’t talk trash. Your integrity and confidentiality is critical. To avoid eroding the trust of your team, never discuss the poor behavior of a team member with anyone except your supervisors or HR. If you need to vent, talk to your leadership coach or a trusted friend outside of your organization.
  3. Give feedback quickly. It can be uncomfortable, but it’s critical that you speak privately to a team member about offensive behavior before things get out of hand or poor habits are formed within the whole group. Remember, you’re not only fostering the well being of your entire team, you’re also protecting the individual’s reputation.
  4. Set clear and direct consequences. Calmly communicate the specific behaviors that are unacceptable and what specific consequences they’ll face if the behavior is repeated. Most importantly, carry out the consequences exactly as you laid them out if the behavior does occur again, otherwise you’ll lose your credibility.
  5. Be consistent. If an offensive behavior is not okay for one team member at one time, then it’s not OK for another team member at another time either.
  6. Document everything. If probation or firing becomes necessary, having complete documentation in the employee’s file will save the day and make your HR Department happy. Be sure you know the proper protocols for probation and firing before you take action or make rash statements.
  7. Have courageous conversations. You can do this. Clearly convey your expectations at the outset to the whole team. If they aren’t met, be fair and responsive. Most importantly, have the courage to let someone go or offer them a transfer to another department if they are not a good fit for your AMAZING TEAM vision.

Did I leave anything else out that you’d include? Share a comment below about your way to deal with difficult nurses.