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How to integrate into your new team

Directorate senior nurse for emergency medicine Nickola Amin shares her experiences in her new role

For me, this didn't come easy. It felt like a tightrope balancing act: wanting to be part of the team and feeling involved with my staff while maintaining the status of 'the boss', enforcing standards and being the disciplinarian.

I am not a Hattie Jacques-style matron and my leadership style is predominantly transformational rather than autocratic. Still, I found the shift from being one of the team to suddenly being very much out of the circle quite isolating and at times lonely. It wasn't until I took on my second lead role that I felt I had travelled quite a long way along the tightrope.

Starting a new job I wanted to be liked; not everyone might feel like that but for me it was a very real emotion. However, I learned that my staff respected me when they saw that I wanted the best for the department and the patients they cared for. This made coming to work the best experience it could be for them and they in turn wanted to do their best.

Respect

I have since realised that a boss whose staff believe she truly understand their concerns and day-to-day stresses, is a boss who is respected.

But how is this achieved?

There are a few ways it has worked for me.

First, I work with my team, clinically. This isn't easy so I won't pretend it is. We all know the diary of lead is extremely busy but I make it a priority, putting time aside each month to do one or two clinical shifts, and making sure I work a weekend or night shift every now and then. This has given me bonding time with nursing and medical staff. They have seen that I know my stuff which has made me credible and keeps me clinically skilled. It also gave me the opportunity to listen and observe how things worked in my first few months.

Open door

I also have an open door policy in my office. This can be demanding to manage, especially when I'm having a busy day, but on the whole it has been a successful way to develop good relationships. If staff need more than a few minutes to talk, I put time aside for them formally, including meeting with them as groups on team days.

Finally, I ensure that I am always consistent: what I do for one member of staff I do for all. If I think back to what I expected from my boss when I was a junior staff member, fairness was right up there. I was fortunate to have a boss who delivered exactly that and she was also honest with me.

An important aspect of being a boss is having difficult conversations with staff. This is something I am still working on. At the time, I couldn't see that my boss was actually helping me by challenging my practice but it enabled me to reflect and gave me the opportunity to improve. Although challenging my staff is not the most enjoyable part of my job, I know I'm doing them a disservice if I don't feed back to them and help them to develop.

Retention

The view I take is that content staff, who feel cared for, listened to and invested in, will work for the department, their colleagues and most importantly their patients. This increases retention and reduces sickness. In the current NHS climate we are all grateful for that.

Ultimately, I have developed emotionally from wanting to be liked to striving to excel in my role and be respected by my team. I still go on team nights out and have a tipple or two with staff but I leave early and let them party until the early hours so the next day I don't have a headache!

About the author

Nickola AminNickola Amin is directorate senior nurse for emergency medicine at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Wiltshire

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