“Mommy, where do nurses come from?”
“Why dearest, they are grown in cala lillies and when their caps are totally formed they are picked for hospitals.”
“But the caps are all different!”
“Yes, Davy. Each variety has a different cap. You know where they were grown by what their cap looks like.”
“But mommy, how can you tell a boy nurse from a girl nurse?”
“Go ask your father….”
How important is it to you to have positive feedback about your job?
I don’t mean the yearly evaluation that wants to know if you meet the “Mission Statement”, or evaluates how Joint Commission compliant you are. You know the kind. Check boxes. “Meets Standards.” “Exceeds Standards.”
(I’ve never “exceeded” a single standard. Oh, I “meet” them, but the only areas I’ve ever “exceeded” in are customer service and charting. Customer service is probably because I actually like my patients. The charting is only because I’m anal-retentive with my writing. Lord help those who mess with my charts…)
I’m talking about the “Great job!”, “Nice catch!”, “Good show!”, “You rock!”, “Have you lost weight?” sort of feedback.
Okay. I’m kidding about the losing weight.
Do you need to hear that you are doing a good job?
Does it matter who gives you the feedback?
Is it more important to hear it from your manager, as opposed to a doctor or a colleague?
And are you more likely to stay in a job if you receive external recognition?
I believe it has to do with the individual.
If someone has less experience in a position, they need more feedback on how they are doing. That feedback could be positive or negative, but it’s the only way to know if the requirements of the position are being met.
To someone with more experience, there is an intrinsic knowledge of a job well done. It has been my observation that someone with experience is more likely to hear when they aren’t performing up to par than to hear kudos when they perform as expected.
Then there are the “off” shifts. Many shifts don’t even see their manager, let alone get feedback on a regular basis.
That’s where our co-workers come in. It’s up to us to give each other feedback. That pat on the back for a difficult IV start. Recognition that the rapport with an angry patient diffused a potentially violent situation. A few high-fives in the break room after a particularly horrendous shift. Some time to recuperate after the death of a patient.
Managers certainly want to support their staff and if you need feedback you can always ask for a conference.
But for me personally, when all said and done it isn’t manager feedback that “retains” me.
What is important is the support of our colleagues, and the occasional “Good work!” from someone who understands the pressures of the job can mean more than any check mark on an evaluation six months hence.
It’s the support, camaraderie and respect that develops between colleagues on a unit that generates the positive feedback that “retains” nurses. We need to take care of each other. No one else knows the pressures we are under.
Foster that supportive environment and you will keep nurses forever.