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How can I get other nurse managers and supervisors to be accountable?

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Remember, accountability is about commitments. It is doing what you say you are going to do. To get other managers or your supervisor to be accountable, you use the same accountability tools you use in other situations: your personal accountability and holding your staff and peers accountable.

Here are a few things to remember on how to get other managers accountable:

  • Start with the language: Remember, it's the "yes" or "no." Ask for a commitment and hear the "no," which may be phrased as a "yes, but."
  • Reset the conversation: When trying to reset a conversation, effective questions are helpful. One effective question is "What worries you?" Asking your supervisor what is preventing him or her from making a commitment, and most especially, from keeping that commitment, is critical.
  • Set the scene: When you deal with other managers or your supervisor, you should try to understand the work at hand and how your manager/supervisor views the work. Once you determine his or her views, you can make requests and offers, or ask effective questions to help them 'be' in the right kind of work.
  • Flip negative energy: Negative energy can show up in many ways. When your manager or supervisor tells you something will not work, it is important to ask questions. You are making an offer to elicit a commitment, to elicit accountability. Fashion the offer so that your manager/supervisor can make a commitment.
  • Pacing event: A pacing event is a forum for public displays of accountability and public commitments. It is much easier to have people keep a commitment when they have publicly declared it. This can be effective to use with other managers or a supervisor when you are not sure that you really have a commitment.

-- Eileen Lavin Dohmann, RN, MBA, NEA-BC

(November 2009)