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What are some strategies I can teach to my charge nurses to develop and facilitate talent in their department?

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As leaders, charge nurses have a professional responsibility to mentor others to grow professionally by providing opportunities for learning. This is your team that you are working with every day, and time should be invested in advancing the knowledge and skills of your team members so they can effectively deliver safe patient care.

Teaching your charge nurses how to discover and develop talent is critical to the success of the team, patient care, and the overall delivery of service within the department and organization. In addition, it is a way to develop leaders within your team so you will have a talent pool to choose from when new leadership opportunities arise, such as becoming a preceptor, charge nurse, unit-based education, council chair, or unit manager. This is part of succession planning and will help support the sustainability of the unit you work in and the organization as a whole.

According to Gebelein et al. (2004), there are a number of strategies you can use to teach your leaders to develop successors and built talent pools:

  • Know your team members and their abilities as much as their limitations
  • Work with your department leader to identify and understand key roles in the department that have the most critical need for successors
  • Understand and be informed about the competencies that are needed for each key role in the department so proactive planning can occur
  • Work to provide opportunities for learning so you can develop successors and improve knowledge and skills
  • Evaluate potential successors’ abilities to perform tasks, be a resource to others, and work together

Charge nurses can accomplish this by providing multiple opportunities for learning. The following examples describe ways that a charge nurse can facilitate the development of talent within his or her department:

  • While rounding, solicit feedback on education needs for the department. Ask whether there is anything related to staff member’s practice that they need additional information about. Coordinate with your unit-based educator, unit based council, and department leader to provide the education.
  • Be attuned to the patient care assignments that you schedule each day, and provide nurses with opportunities to take care of patients with different diagnoses and management to help them advance their knowledge and skills. Ensure that you have the resources available to assist nurses if needed.
  • Be attuned to the low-frequency events on your unit, such as a patient with a pacemaker or chest tube. If you have a nurse who has not managed a pacemaker or chest tube in a while, provide a learning opportunity.

Gebelein, S.H.; Nelson-Neuhaus, K.J.; Skube, C.J.; Lee, D.G.; Stevens, L.A.; Hellervik, L.W., et al. (2004). Successful Manager’s Handbook: Develop Yourself Coach Others (7th ed.) Minneapolis, MN: Personnel Decisions International.

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

(April 2011)