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A staff member has been creating tension with other nurses in my unit and I need to respond to this. What steps should I consider in approaching this person?


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Your responsibilities as the manager include setting the example for an acceptable work environment. To do this, consider having the staff develop a list of ground rules of what are unacceptable behaviors for the work environment. This way all staff are starting on the same level of notice of what is and is not acceptable.

Meet individually with this nurse and inquire if they have any questions about the new ground rules. Review specific incidences where he or she displayed unacceptable behavior and clearly state these will no longer be tolerated. 

Remembering the responsibility you have to patients and staff can often remove any reluctance you have to dealing with a disciplinary issue. Equally important is the need to respect the staff member involved in a disciplinary issue by:

  • Focusing on the discussion on the behavior, not the person
  • Listening to the staff member's perspective
  • Abiding by the HR-established guidelines for fair and equitable treatment
  • Discussing the issues in a clear, honest, and direct manner
  • Being consistent and following through on agreements made

—Shelley Cohen, RN, BSN, CEN