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Travel Nursing Updated March 22, 2022

By Moira K. McGhee

7 Must-Have Nursing Skills to Transition into Nursing Management

Nursing management combines clinical nursing skills and business management skills to successfully fulfill many crucial roles and responsibilities in a medical facility.

Nurse managers are responsible for a team of nurses and oversee the day-to-day operation of the unit or facility, monitor patient care, address personnel, and inventory and budgetary concerns. This makes nurse managers a “vital link between the administrative strategic plan and point of care,” according to the American Organization of Nurse Leadership (AONL).

Developing must-have nursing management skills allows you to lead, inspire and motivate your staff to provide the best care possible.

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7 Nursing Skills Needed in Nursing Management

To be effective in nursing management, you must possess a diverse set of skills. While the skills required may vary slightly from one leadership position or specialty to another, here are seven must-have nursing leadership skills you should possess to successfully transition into nursing management.

1. “Superstar” Skills

Testing the nursing management style of the best nurses uncovers the most desirable skills some medical facilities look for in new applicants, according to Michael Mercer, Ph.D., business psychologist, author of Hire the Best & Avoid the Rest™, and the researcher who created the three types of pre-employment Forecaster™ Tests.

“Medical facilities that use my Forecaster Tests have had me test their superstar nurse managers to find the exact test scores their best nurse managers get. They can then test job applicants and show a preference for applicants who get the same scores as their best nurse managers.”

Some desirable skills based on test results of the “absolute best, superstar nurse managers” include:

  • Highly friendly
  • Highly teamwork-oriented
  • Flexible in following rules
  • Poised under pressure
  • Highly optimistic
  • Simultaneously focused on both feelings and facts
  • Highly motivated to learn
  • Average to high intelligence

2. Able to Build and Lead Teams

Being able to work well as part of a team is a valuable nursing skill, but as a nurse manager, you must transition this skill into building an effective team. This requires a vigorous focus on recruitment and nurse retention. Once you’ve built your team, foster collaboration among your nursing staff by including them in discussions and decisionmaking that affects their workflow to build trust and contentment with changes. Adopting a teamwork-oriented nursing management style helps ensure job satisfaction,
translating to less staff turnover and enhanced patient care.

3. Expert Communicator

Having exceptional communication skills is another desirable trait that plays a significant role in your effectiveness in promoting teamwork. Effective communication relies heavily on developing active listening skills to encourage your staff to approach you when they need guidance. You must also be able to convey oral and written communications effectively and concisely, sometimes under pressure, while interacting with a variety of people daily. Strong communication skills enhance your ability to competently interact with your staff, physicians, patients, patients’ family members, and administrators.

4. Poise Under Pressure

Being decisive in a crisis situation, such as during the COVID pandemic, shows poise under pressure, a highly-desired nursing skill. Nurse managers are looked up to by staff members for direction and leadership during times of high stress, so you must be adept at situation management. Strong nursing leadership skills allow you to quickly identify issues that require immediate attention and apply principles of crisis management. Your poise under pressure ensures safety, competency, and efficiency are maintained at all times.

5. Balancing Business Needs and Quality Care

With numerous administrative demands, nurse managers must be able to balance business tasks with patient care. Your nursing management skills should allow you to schedule appropriate staffing and deliver the highest quality care for your patients while adhering to regulatory guidelines. This includes coaching staff members who aren’t meeting the standards governing patient care, and making adjustments as needed to  
ensure the best outcomes. As an administrative leader, you’re also responsible for collecting financial data to ensure cost-effective care and maintaining necessary equipment and supplies.

6. Promote Positivity

Effective nursing managers are optimistic leaders who set good examples for their staff. When you display a cheerful, positive attitude, others will follow your lead. Your positivity also allows your team to relax, perform better and enjoy working with you. Spread your positive attitude further by individually recognizing staff members for exceptional performance. Recognition and reward for a job well done demonstrates appreciation, value, and caring, which goes a long way in increasing staff morale, job satisfaction, and nurse retention.

7. Open Friendliness

Adopting an approachable nursing management style means being friendly toward your staff and maintaining an open-door policy. It’s easy to get buried in paperwork in your office, so make an effort to step out on various shifts and days to allow your entire staff opportunities to interact with you.

Make regular rounds, so nurses and patients see you’re interested in what’s
happening. Listen to staff suggestions, and let them know you’re open to their ideas. Prioritizing visibility, transparency, and relationships makes it easier for your staff to interact with you and boosts their satisfaction. It also allows them to better empathize with your administrative decisions and be more likely to voice any concerns they have.

Christopher Littlefield previously coached over 60 nursing students at Children’s Hospital Boston and trained over 300 nurse managers in The Art of Acknowledgment and Resiliency. As the founder of Beyond Thank You, he concludes that “nurse managers must learn to extend the compassion, tough love and understanding they show to patients to their peers. To withhold judgments, seek understanding and stand for the well-being and exceptional care of their patients, their staff and themselves every day.”

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