Guest Author - Colleen Moore, RN
Culture is a community that shares the same values. It is important for a nurse manager to understand the organizations culture for a few reasons. First, one cannot effectively lead if they do not have the same value system as the organization that they represent. A nurse manager and leader many times must be a cheerleader, bring people together and get the buy-in from their staff. If they don't have the same values and beliefs as the organization, they cannot do this effectively.
Next, it is important that the nurse leader understand the culture of the organization because many times they are doing the hiring. If the nurse leader cannot adequately convey the culture of the organization to a potential candidate or understand the culture enough to realize who may not fit into the culture, poor hires will occur.
Last, you cannot be a leader if you don't support the culture. Even if you hold credibility at the staff level, change will not occur because you are not supporting the beliefs of the key leadership. If the mission and values of an organization are not the same as the leader of a department, when things get difficult the manager will not be able to direct the staff in the appropriate direction. Instead, they will lead away for the true goal, which is caring for the patient.
If you believe in the culture and intent of the organization, your approach for change will be different. Great nurse managers are constently seeking change, to better care for their patients and their staff.
Example: I need more staff but there is a hiring freeze. If I go to my administration, not believing in the culture of the organization, which is largely based on patient satisfaction and quality of care, I probably won't get the approval to hire.
The conversation will probably go something like this: My nurses are over worked and they are going to quit unless I get more help. Administration: We don't have money in the budget to hire on right now.
If I believe in the organizations culture and values, it would probably go like this: My nurses have 8 patients on the day shift, they can't logistically handle this patient load and give exceptional care to our patients. Therefore, if I can't hire any more nurses, I am afraid our satisfaction scores are going to decrease, as well as our quality of care. Not only do I believe this, but I also know this is important to the organization. I will probably get the approval to hire.
An affective leader must believe in the culture of the organization, otherwise, he or she will not be able to direct in a way that will benefit the patients, staff and the organization.