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How do nurse managers conduct a charge nurse evaluation?

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Just as with all other employees in your facility, charge nurses should not be evaluated on an annual basis alone. Annual evaluations are great; however, if you have a charge nurse who is not meeting your expectations and you wait until the annual review to discuss this, you are not really mentoring and teaching your charge nurses to grow. There is nothing more humiliating than to walk in to your performance evaluation and find out that you have not been performing to the team’s expectations. It can truly have a negative impact, and the team member will potentially walk away wondering why he or she was not informed of these issues earlier and given an opportunity to improve. Never set your team members up for failure.

Evaluate all charge nurses at least every six months, with the yearly date being the annual performance evaluation. This mid-year evaluation should really be a quick assessment of how the charge nurse is doing. If any opportunities for improvement are identified, work with your charge nurse on action plans to improve before the final performance evaluation. For a charge nurse who is new to the position, you would still evaluate them every six months, but I would also suggest evaluating them at 30 days and 90 days after they have completed orientation. In my experience, there will always be an opportunity for professional growth at 30 to 90 days because most employees are still learning and will not have experienced all there is to experience in this role. Meeting to discuss progress is imperative to the overall success of charge nurse orientation. As they gain more experience on the unit, they are better able to provide feedback, and you as a manager are better able to assess progress and compliance with the expectations of the role. Be consistent in your approach and consider developing a 30- and 90-day performance evaluation in your organization. This evaluation should include all the elements in the charge nurse job description or charter. As you work to shape these evaluations, consider using other team members’ feedback on the new charge nurses’ performance as well. This will provide a very well-rounded evaluation.

Tammie L. Berbarie, BA, RN, RN-BC

(March 2011)