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How can I improve communication with my charge nurses?

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If you want charge nurses to work effectively for you, maintain an open, two-way pathway of communication. Such communication will not only help them keep you informed about the state of the unit, but also help you gauge their ability to take on the 24-hour responsibility and accountability that is expected of nurse managers and other future leaders.

To improve communication between you and charge nurses, you may choose to use a structured reporting tool, such as a shift report or charge nurse job or role description. By working with the various communication skills and styles of the charge nurses, you will benefit having staff you can rely on to help you take 24-hour responsibility and accountability for the unit.

Once you've learned how to communicate with charge staff, you will grow as a manager as you delegate and hold staff accountable. However; when delegation attempts fail and outcomes are unacceptable, remember that enforcing standards and holding staff accountable requires consistent behavior.

—Brandon G. Bennett, MSN, RN