The Role of Mentorhip in the Nursing Industry

Abstract

As Diana (2002) explains, leadership is the most critical part of an organization as it is responsible for structuring and maintaining an organization’s values, purpose and vision. Leaders are supposed to set examples through their behaviors and actions. Values in an organization would not mean much if they were not adhered to. Values form an organization’s culture, an element which many stakeholders in the healthcare industry today are willing to invest in. Organizations whose cultures are properly codified enjoy much more customers and employees loyalty. Unlike motivation and other values in an organization, mentorship can only be developed through actions and not words.

The role of mentorhip in the nursing industry cannot be over-emphasized. Nurses need a close relationship with their managers to allow them air out concerns, problems and challenges, before they start affecting their performance. In the 21st century, the issue of gender imbalance is still a big issue in the sector. Mentorship programs have to take this into consideration to ensure everyone is well catered for.

This paper examines mentorship, the role it plays in ensuring better performance and how gender differences are addressed. While in the past female nurses found it easier to speak to fellow women in the management, today the trend has changed. Most of the nurses do not think sex is a major factor when choosing a role model. Technology has allowed long distance communication, which has made it easier for employees to open up to their seniors even at a distance, without feeling embaraced. This is turn has brought nurses and managers closer without bringing into play the issue of sex differences.

Introduction

Leadership is the most critical part of an organization. It is responsible for structuring and maintaining an organization’s values, purpose and vision (Diana, 2002). Leaders are supposed to set examples through their behaviors and actions. Values in an organization would not mean much if they were not adhered to. Values form an organization’s culture, an element which many businesses today are willing to invest in. Organizations whose cultures are properly codified enjoy much more customers and employees loyalty. Unlike motivation and other values in an organization, mentorship can only be developed through actions and not words.

Organizational cultures are determined by the history and ownership of an organization. They may also be developed from the size of an organization and its technology. Goals and objectives are a major determinant of an organization’s culture. The environment which is how things are done and how people relate also determines an organization’s culture. Since organization cultures are made up of leaders’ values and beliefs, a leader may find it hard to accomplish their responsibilities if they are not in agreement with the organization’s culture. Many times, any sector’s leadership will get rid of people who may find it hard to keep up with its cultures.

An organization’s culture substantially affects the ability of managers to execute their responsibilities. It also influences how an organization meets its goals and objectives. A culture of recognition gives employees reason and motivation to work harder. It is also used by organizations as a lagging indicator and allows them give training to people who have had low recognition due to lagging performance (Deresky, 2008). This in turn improves its performance and productivity. A culture of appreciation and mentorship on the other hand ensures that every member of the team is recognized for their good and productive efforts. It also encourages high performance amongst employees.

An organization which has an open communication culture allows employees air their concerns and complains, some of which may be affecting their service delivery. It also allows managers and the executive relate and connect better with every part of the organization including employees at the lowest level. Healthy communication between people on all levels is a good way to source information and allow the executives make more informed decision, considering every person’s needs. A sector which adopts a culture of punishment for poor performance may be able to improve its productivity but will not enjoy the loyalty of its employees since they work from fear.

Approaches to leadership in the healthcare sector

There are different types of management styles. The most commonly known are authoritarian, democratic and Laissez-faire management styles. These styles of management determine the area of freedom for the managers as well as the subordinates. The authoritarian manager does not allow for any forms of negotiation but instead makes decisions and announces them to everybody else. The Laisez-faire type of management is where a manager presents decisions but at the same time the subordinate is free to make decisions and do what they want to. In the democratic style of management, subordinates are allowed to function and make some of the decisions but do so within defined limits (Thyer, 2003).

In this management styles, the difference is level of power. One is more formal and legitimate, one is charismatic while the other is manipulative and exploitative. The level of relationship between the manager and the subordinate varies. Authoritarian management has a one way form of communication where the manager passes orders and decisions to the rest of the team and the decisions cannot be questioned. The laissez-faire allows very little communication between the two levels of management as people do what they want while the democratic form or management allows full consultation and the communication channel is very open.

It is also notable that there are different management perspectives. Classical management is more concerned with scientific management and a pursuit for higher productivity (Schein, 2004). This form of management is also very focused on how the organization is designed. Behavioral management places much significance on human relations, groups and the social context of an organization. It places priority on organizational behavior and puts more effort on it.

Quantitative management is the mathematical modeling part of management which is more concerned with mathematical modeling and operations management (Cole, 2002). The main aim of this form of management is to ensure efficiency in the organization. Finally there is the integration perspective of management which deals with systems and the social context of the organization. It is also concerned with how an organization governs its functions.

Different factors influence an organization’s management structure. They include job designs, formalization, arrangement of functional activities, and co-ordination of organizational units (Cole, 2002). Status, power, role, liking and leadership also play a role in how organizations’ structures are formed and their management. The role structure of management is divided into action oriented, cerebral oriented and people oriented roles.

Appropriate evidence

“Role models are highly important for us psychologically, helping to guide us through life during our development, to make important decisions that affect the outcome of our lives, careers and other developments” (West-Burnham, 1997). In nursing, managers have have to fulfill different functions as role models. Even as they serve as role models, the key managerial functions, remain defined and important regardless of how they are applied.

Mahoney (2001) describes good leaders as being “visionary, equipped with strategies, a plan and a desire to direct their teams and services to a future goal”. To serve as effective leaders, senior nurses are expected to establish group and individual identification among their teams by maintaining their effectiveness and using appropriate problem-solving techniques. They are also expected to be passionate about their work and their teams, have the ability to motivate others, seek to constantly inspire their juniors and find solution to problems.

At a time when so many other issues are at the forefront in healthcare provision, the issues of role models doesn’t seem worthy of much attention. The issue certainly deserves all the attention it can get as the industry struggles with shortages and retention problems. As Kuokkanen & Leino-Kilpi (2000) point out “the issue of role models is more important now more than ever as role models are necessary for the recruitment and retention of nurses during the current nursing shortage, the shortage that affects all areas of health care delivery”.

As demand for nurses goes up, the number of admissions in nursing schools have not been very satisfactory. Low staffing, which arises from different factors, is cited as the biggest concern for the healthcare industry today. The need to have good role models for nurses should be treated as priority if the industry hopes to establish a safe future for healthcare. Prospective and novice nurses need role models to enable them grow to be respected professionals.

Statement of the problem

The Gallup Organization (2000), “established that nurses had the highest standards of honesty and ethics in that year”. Ten years later, the industry faces major challenges as far as ethics, discipline is concerned. The healthcare industry is faced with challenges that comes with the constant changes happening in the industry. More cases of questionable conduct are filed each day and ethical concerns and issues are still evident.

Regulations, policies and expectations from customers may sometimes be hard to keep up. In order to ensure that nurses still hold that position they held a few years back, it is necessary that they have someone to help them mold these characteristics. This paper seeks to understand the importance of role models for nurse managers.

Aims of study

  • Outline and explain the various leadership styles for managers and what is required of them
  • Outline the characteristics of effective leaders in the healthcare sector
  • Understand the importance of role models for nurse managers

Rationale

This research has specific practical value. Having considered the results, it will be possible to state whether role models play a vital role in a nursing career development or not. The answers will explain different responsibilities of role models and how they contribute to the healthcare sector development. The influence of role models in an organization’s leadership is evident in their role in training, coaching and development.

Theoretical/conceptual base

To serve as effective leaders, senior nurses are expected to establish group and individual identification among their teams by maintaining their effectiveness and using appropriate problem-solving techniques. Mahoney (2001) describes good leaders as being “visionary, equipped with strategies, a plan and a desire to direct their teams and services to a future goal”. These nurses are also expected to be passionate about their work and their teams, have the ability to motivate others, seek to constantly inspire their juniors and find solution to problems.

The expectations on senior nurses are many and continues to grow, as they get more involved in management tasks and responsibilities. In order for senior nurses to be respected and earn the trust of their teams, they must portray and apply these characteristics. There is also need for someone to offer the much needed support and mentorship. In the nursing profession, when this is lacking, it may be impossible to develop any proper clinical practices. According to Bondas (2002), “professional standards in nursing are achieved by enabling the growth of competent practitioners”.

Decision-making, integrity, ability to delegate and resolve conflicts are considered crucial characters for leadership in the nursing profession. Nurturing those young professions in the industry and being aware of other people’s feelings are achieved by ensuring the seniors and juniors are in tune with each others challenges and emotions. These elements are considered crucial in connecting leadership with productive and effective development in the profession.

Leadership is also achieved through working along the juniors, mentoring and coaching them. As Saarikoski and Leino-Kilpi (2002) explain, “a good leader will seek to develop other staff through their leadership after finding out that the one-to-one supervisory relationship was the most important element in clinical instruction”. Several techniques have been identified as being the most contributing towards developing an effective team. Among them are; mentoring, training and learning. These techniques are also the most preferred for supervision and assessment.

Hughes (2004) lists terminologies used in mentorship discussions as “supporter, teacher, coach, facilitator, assessor, role model and supervisor”. The author also points out that the best way to motivate and empower senior nurses is through best-practice methods and adopting support mechanisms. To achieve the most desirable practice models, it is mandatory that the profession puts in place supportive clinical environments. This way, the profession will be able to develop and retain dynamic clinical leaders.

Literature review

To understand the background of this paper, several books, journals and articles proved extremely resourceful. Allan and his fellow writers, explain leadership for learning in clinical practice. The authors, through their article in the Journal of Nursing Management help the reader understand leadership in the sector through a survey conducted in the United Kingdom. Their survey reveals that clinical placement is more dependent of roles such as educators and mentors, than it is on leadership. Bakker, Killmer, Siegrist and Schaufeli explain effort and reward imbalance and burnout among nurses, using a study conducted on 204 German nurses. The authors explain that both physical and emotional exhaustion reduces the nurses’ ability to work and achievements.

Bass, in his book on leadership and performance beyond expectations, explains the role of human resource managers in establishing solid leadership skills in a business. Part of this is using people in senior positions to understand the needs of people in their teams, and offer recommendations on how the human resource management can help solve them. As markets get larger and more competitive, strategic human resource management is a key recipe when formulating effective strategies. According to the author, part of establishing effective strategies is employing mentorship.

In his book, Benner offers appropriate mechanisms that can be used to help nurses develop from novices to experts. The book addresses excellence and power in clinical nursing practice. Among the issues pointed by the author is resolving conflicts and crises. The author explains conflict and crisis management as factors that play a strategic role in ensuring positive results in the healthcare sector. According to the author, ensuring open communication channels between senior and junior nurses, as well as the managers and the executive management, is the first step towards identifying problems and implementing solutions. Incentives, recognition, rewards and strict discipline measures are key strategies towards ensuring that nurses deliver,keep in line with the sector’s timeliness, and stay disciplined. When such measures lack, the sector’s efforts to have the best talent may not be rewarding.

The article on paths to nursing leadership published in the journal of nursing management is Bondas efforts to explain leadership in the nursing profession. Bondas argues that the nursing industry has tremendous impact on our society and nations and as a result, discipline, ethics and leadership must be taken seriously. He also argues that to help nurses have a better impact on our health and quality of life, there is need for them to be adequately motivated and empowered. According to the article, leadership in nursing is an art that involves quality delivery of care and facilitating positive nursing growth among other nurses. Leadership skills and capabilities among nurses can be judged on the basis of how well they can solve problems and make decisions in the face of a crisis. They can also be judged by their ability to manage time, organize the team under them, and maintain professional ethics.

In their quest to understand the changes that have taken place in leadership skills in the nursing industry, Borbasi and Gaston categorized them into different classes. They classify them into organizational management, creation and vision, communication and strategy. When a leader understand this, he/she is willing to stay in line with the management and follow the hospital’s policies and regulations. As a leader, managers should work on being more visionary and equip themselves with the required strategies. Such qualities will help them direct their teams and services to a better future in the industry. To be an effective leader, they also need to work on their problem-solving skills, which the authors point as a fundamental element of a leader and a mentor.

Chow and Suen help the reader understand clinical staff as mentors in pre-registration undergraduate nursing education. The authors argue that this is where mentorship begins in nursing, and should not stop after people have grow their career to senior nurses. The authors explain how important it is to ensure that nursing students have the right perception about nursing even before they begin their careers. Just like students, senior nurses need support and mentorship from managers and other people above them.

The need for mentorship is further addressed by Constable and Russell who, explain the effect of social support and the work environment among nurses. Through an empirical study on 310 nurses at an Army Medical Center in Colorado, the article points out that burn out is a significant problem among nurses, and needs to be addressed urgently. The results revealed that major determinants of burnout include lack of motivation, physical discomfort and decreased performance, among others.

In his book, seven habits of highly effective people, Covey explains leadership without addressing a particular industry. The book explains how knowledge management can be used as an effective leadership management tool. Being aware of what is happening around a team assigned to them is the easiest way for a leader to help those under his authority. Gaining competitive advantage has become a major challenge for leaders today. Motivating those below them is equally hard but the author explains that using available information to the leader’s advantage, requires advanced knowledge management tools to allow a leader convert available information to useful knowledge.

Kuokkanen and Leino-Kilpi outline the importance of empowerment in nursing. Among the importance of empowerment include increasing productivity by enhancing performance, allowing nurses to take initiatives and improve their performances. Others are job satisfaction which is addressed when nurses are empowered and, giving nurses an opportunity to decide on various issues that affect them at work. Being in a position where they can communicate issues facing them has an effect on nurses’ performance. Another need for empowerment arises from the fact that it improves nurses’ influence on patients and colleagues. As the authors argue, empowered people tend to have a more energized and positive attitude, which they pass down to their colleagues and patients.

Project design and implementation

Overall project plan

This research paper was done in a duration of 1 month

Overall project plan

Project evaluation and discussions

What leadership styles should senior nurses develop

“Employee empowerment is one of the most vital necessities in ensuring optimum performance in any organization” (Adair, 2003). As the world becomes more competitive, economies rise and more organizations are established. The results have been increased competition in the human resource industry, large employees turn over and lack of ability for organizations to retain employees. “Nursing as a profession is a sector that needs a lot of empowermenton the employers mainly because it is a profession that is concerned with the well being of individuals in the society” (Aiken et al., 2001).

The nursing industry has tremendous impact on our society and nations. To help nurses have a better impact on our health and quality of life, there is need for them to be adequately motivated and empowered. As Benner (2001) points out, “senior nurses are likely to engage in a range of leadership activities in their daily routine and some may find the concept hard to understand”. Leadership in nursing is an art that involves quality delivery of care and facilitating positive nursing growth among other nurses. Leadership skills and capabilities among nurses can be judged by their ability to manage time, organize the team under them, and maintain professional ethics. It is also judged on the basis of how well they can solve problems and make decisions in the face of a crisis. As a nurse, adhering to professional ethics and acting with integrity is key in developing leadership skills.

Leadership skills in the nursing industry are categorized into different classes. They include organizational management, creation and vision, communication and strategy. The first step towards being a good leader is realizing that leadership roles are different from management functions (Benner, 2001). By realizing this, a good leader is willing to stay in touch and in line with the management and follow the hospital’s policies and regulations.

The need for empowerment

As Adair (2002) explains, “empowerment is a leadership tool that has been used in a wide range of circumstances for improving the level of productivity in business enterprises” Like every crucial industry in an country, nursing such effective tools need to be implemented in nursing. Nurses need to be empowered for various reasons key of them being;

Empowering nurses will increase productivity by enhancing performance. Powerless employees feel helpless to even take initiatives that could improve their performances.

Job satisfaction is addressed when nurses are empowered. Empowerment gives nurses an opportunity to decide on various issues that affect them at work. Being in a position where they can communicate issues facing them has an effect on their performance.

Empowerment improves nurses’ influence on patients and colleagues. Empowered people tend to have a more energized and positive attitude, which they pass down to their colleagues and patients.

Leadership styles for senior nurses

For the purpose of this paper, senior nurses who are also supposed to be the role models in the profession, will be defined as “practitioners with additional post-qualification education, skills and experience who work within the nursing team, providing a day-to-day, hands-on, visible presence” (Allan, et al., 2000). In their daily lives, these nurses are expected to coordinate shifts, support other staff members and direct junior nurses. As leaders, they are also expected to resolve challenging situations at work including disputes.

Leadership in this paper will be defined as “a multifaceted process of identifying a goal or target, motivating other people to act, and providing support and motivation to achieve naturally negotiated goals” (Porter-O’Grady, 2003). For any leader, the ability to serve others and help them grow plays a significant role in how influential their leadership skills turn out. For nurses, perfection in their profession requires a constant and steady development of skills, something that can only be achieved through proper guidance.

For the sake of this paper, it is also important to appreciate that management and leadership are two very different things. As Covey (1999) points out, “management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things”. Leadership is less concerned with own benefits and seeks to help others establish their path, and do it the right way. It is more about perception, philosophies, judgment and beliefs. Management on the other hand tends to focus on tasks, and is more easier to accomplish than leadership.

Characteristics of good leaders in nursing

Mahoney (2001) describes good leaders as being “visionary, equipped with strategies, a plan and a desire to direct their teams and services to a future goal”. To serve as effective leaders, senior nurses are expected to establish group and individual identification among their teams by maintaining their effectiveness and using appropriate problem-solving techniques. They are also expected to be passionate about their work and their teams, have the ability to motivate others, seek to constantly inspire their juniors and find solution to problems.

In order for senior nurses to be respected and earn the trust of their teams, they must portray and apply these characteristics. In the nursing profession, when this is lacking, it may be impossible to develop any proper clinical practices. According to Bass (1985), “professional standards in nursing are achieved by enabling the growth of competent practitioners”.

Decision-making, integrity, ability to delegate and resolve conflicts are considered crucial characters for leadership in the nursing profession. Nurturing those young in the industry and being aware of other people’s feelings are achieved by ensuring the seniors and juniors are in tune with each others challenges and emotions. These elements are considered crucial in connecting leadership with productive and effective development in the profession.

Leadership is also achieved through working along the juniors, mentoring and coaching them. As Saarikoski and Leino-Kilpi (2002) explain, “a good leader will seek to develop other staff through their leadership after finding out that the one-to-one supervisory relationship was the most important element in clinical instruction”. Several techniques have been identified as being the most contributing towards developing an effective team. Among them are; mentoring, training and learning. These techniques are also the most preferred for supervision and assessment.

To understand mentorship further, it is important to understand all the terminologies used in the topic such as “supporter, teacher, coach, facilitator, assessor, role model and supervisor” as listed by (Marriner-Tomey,1993). The author also points out that the best way to motivate and empower senior nurses is through best-practice methods and adopting support mechanisms. To achieve the most desirable practice models, it is mandatory that the profession puts in place supportive clinical environments. This way, the profession will be able to develop and retain dynamic clinical leaders.

Political context

Senior nurses are expected to be able to handle not only professional related pressure, but also be able respond to the political changes and pressures that arise in the profession. Organizational expectations and regulations are constantly changing. Local and national and local polices are under constant reviews and adjustments. As their roles become more and more autonomous and specialized, there have been both good and damaging consequences. The outcomes have been both positive and negative.

Customers play a significant role in the nursing profession. Their expectations have been going up as more health complications arise. The private industry, which now seems to be driven by profits, is constantly seeking ways to satisfy customers and ensure they record high sales volumes for their healthcare services. Such factors contribute largely to pressure and stress on nurses, both at the junior and senior position. Since senior nurses are expected to lead and guide their teams to ensure stability in the profession, much pressure is put on them.

To survive in the profession, senior nurses are having high expectations put on them. They are supposed to be resilient enough to respond and cope with the constant and drastic changes taking place in the healthcare industry. They are also expected to help other stakeholders such as the patients adapt to these changes. Therefore, their senior should be able to help them to embrace the changes and works towards the achievable objectives expected from the changes.

“Senior nurses look forward to those above them to involve them in decision-making on issues impacting on clinical care such as ; developing policy, workforce planning, departmental business planning, and clinical and corporate governance” (Sorensen et al, 2008). There needs to be workplace systems that ensure their efforts are not sabotaged and their expatriate delivers results. According to Bakker, et al. (2000), “senior nurses must develop constructive processes through which they become accepted as equal team members”.

Role of motivation

Motivation calls for use of incentives to achieve a higher output and productivity. The biggest factor to consider in motivation is mentorship. The two therefore, go hand in hand, even in the nursing industry. The argument behind motivation theory is that “a motivated work force will generate much more than a demotivated workforce” (John, 1999). The results are a higher output and more satisfying quality. Employees can be motivated using different types of incentives. The most common forms of incentives today are financial. They include pension, bonuses and pay increment for a certain level of achievement.

Motivation is also deemed a very critical factor for producing high quality work and minimizing wastage. Motivated staff will tend to be more pro-active and have a bigger sense of seeing things happen (Hoffmann, 2006). They will give their best to their organization which helps an organization improve its profitability and as a result, better performances. Motivated employees are also bound to be more open about their problems and concerns and will air them out instead of letting them affect an organization’s performance.

Different philosophers present different motivational theories and give different arguments as to why they support motivation. One of the most significant motivational theories is Frederick Herzberg’s motivational theory. Herzberg argues that “satisfaction and dissatisfaction arise from different factors at work and they are not opposing reactions to the same factor” (Hoffmann, 2006). Those factors motivating people are not the same that dissatisfy them. Satisfaction comes from factors which are involved in accomplishing a task. Dissatisfaction on the other hand comes from factors in the job context.

According to Hezberg, a human being’s needs can be categorized into two sets of needs. One is to grow themselves psychologically and the other is to avoid pain or suffering (Hoffmann, 2006). He also explains the need for safety, food, shelter and even hygiene which he illustrates through a biblical example. According to him, an employee needs status, policy, proper work conditions, security, a good salary, and a relationship with both the supervisor and the subordinate to be motivated.

Another motivation theory is that of Abraham Maslow. His theory explains the human need hierarchy. He arranges the human needs in the form of a hierarchy from the least to the biggest. According to him, the most important human need is the physiological needs, followed by security and safety, social, esteem and self actualization needs in that order (Weiner, 2002). He argued that any time a need is satisfied, the next need on the hierarchy becomes dominant. He also acknowledges that no need can ever be fully satisfied but if an organization wants to motivate their employees, it is important for them to understand their level of need in the hierarchical order.

This theory enjoys a huge recognition from different managers. This is from the fact that it is easy to understand and it has a logic that is easy to relate with. However, the theory also attracts criticism for lacking empirical evidence and lacking research support for it. The two theories differ from the fact that Herzberg identifies both motivational factors and maintenance factors. Maslow on the other hand identifies human needs and arranges them in a hierarchical order.

Organizational social factors

The social factor of an organization is the basis for relationships, communication and team work. An organization which is open to different social factors is bound to develop more loyal employees who feel as part of a family. Social factors in an organization provide a common purpose (Miner, 2007). Different social factors in an organization include relationships which may be employee to employee relationships, employee to managers relationships or manager executive relationships. These kinds of relationships are more often than not official but when a social element is introduced to them, they become a good source of information among people from the different levels of an organization.

The other social factor is team building activities. These can only be achieved if there are healthy relationships happening between people from the different levels that need team building. Team building can be among employees of the same level or can be between senior and junior employees. Today, organizations are willing to go to great levels and to put in enough investments to enhance team building. Team building is important in improving an organization’s performance in that it encourages communication and it creates friendship and loyalty towards each other. In so doing, everyone does their best at their level to make it possible for someone else at a different level achieve the desired results.

Group trainings can also be considered a social factor. It allows people know each others strengths and weaknesses. Working with this knowledge makes it easier for employees to identify who needs help and support more. It also makes it possible to establish whose strengths can be utilized most to achieve the desired results in a team. Training together also allows people from different teams know each other, share knowledge and broaden their knowledge about the organization.

Other social factors which occur within organizations is the relationship between people of the same team or department. Healthy relationships between people in a team allow them to watch for each others back in different projects. When one is sick for example, the other people are aware and can help them finish up their duties easily when they resume or have it done by one of them. This translates to very strong teamwork where when one person is missing, work does not have to be so badly affected. The degree of interaction between workers or unit of workers being supervised does matter in an organization’s team work (Schein, 2004).

Impact of technology on both management and the workforce

Technology plays a major role in how professionals are developed today. As Borbasi & Gaston (2002) argues, “in the sophisticated world of computers and enumerable other methods of communication, it is not surprising that the first nurse a young person observes may be a television portrayal, whether positive or negative”. Many times, it does not matter whether a character is of the same or different sex. Reality and fictitious shows about the profession today have a critical effect on how young nurses develop their careers.

Technology has also reduced the level of contact between nurse managers and their superiors. Meeting can be help online and phones have made it easier to for people to communicate without meeting. As this happens, the issue or sex differences in role modeling becomes less relevant. Most of the TV shows featuring nurses portray pairing between a male and female nurse as trendy and an easier relationship to handle. This has made it easier for male and female professions to relate easily and trust each other. For senior nurses, they are able to trust their superiors from the opposite sex without much trouble.

Technology influences management and workforce in the healthcare sector by analyzing production, resource impact, routine to non-routine operations, structure impact, industry impact and work impact as well (Schwalbe, 2010). It allows the managers together with the work force match the resources available with technology through different approaches. The management is able to run operations more easily by changing techniques and processes to better and modern ones. Technology also reflects what is made meaning management has to access and adopt the best technology to make the best. It motivates knowledge since it has to match the technology used.

Technology influences the attitude of the work force. When an organization has good technology, it becomes easier to work and the workforce is motivated. Technology further influences the company’s hiring process and the kind of people they employ. A company with the latest technology will look for the best talent in the market to run it so that they can maximize on its benefits. Good human resource management technology also makes the hiring process easier. Other benefits and influence of technology include that on quality of products and services and that on a company’s internationalization process. Good perfomance and improved results keeps nurses motivated.

Since the sector is all about customer satisfaction and ensuring agood quality of healthcare , information technology plays an important role in the sector. It supports and enables it to operate more effectively, minimize their waste and operate with minimum inventories. The sector is also able to utilize modern technology to test quality, allow it to correct defects on time and achieve continuous improvement.

Role models in the nursing environment

At a time when so many other issues are at the forefront in healthcare provision, role models don’t seem worthy of much attention. The issue certainly deserves all the attention it can get as the industry struggles with shortages and retention problems. As Chow & Suen (2001) explains “the issue of role models is more important now more than ever as role models are necessary for the recruitment and retention of nurses during the current nursing shortage, the shortage that affects all areas of health care delivery”.

As demand for nurses goes up, the number of admissions in nursing schools have not been very satisfactory. Low staffing, which arises from different factors, is cited as the biggest concern for the healthcare industry today. The need to have good role models for nurses should be treated as priority if the industry hopes to establish a safe future for healthcare. Prospective and novice nurses need role models to enable them grow to be respected professionals. The Gallup Organization (2000), established that nurses had the highest standards of honesty and ethics in that year”. In order to ensure that nurses still hold that position, it is necessary that they have someone to help them mold these characteristics.

Influence of social issues

Like every other people, nurses have issues that may not be related to their profession. Nurses are faced with family, financial and social issues as they go about their day-to-day lives. Many times, senior nurses will find it easier to share these issues and challenges with fellow senior nurses. However, in cases where these issues are affecting a nurse’ performance, there might be need to share it with someone in a more superior position.

When seeking help for personal issues, Constable & Russell (1986) points out that it is then much easier for senior nurses to relate with and trust superiors of the same sex. For example, a nurse will find it much comfortable to share his/her marital troubles with a senior of the same sex. If the issues are purely related to work, the issue becomes easier to discuss with any senior regardless of their sex.

Other social issues that have helped break the barrier between nurses and managers of different sexes is the emergence of different sexual orientations. As more and more nurses open up about their sexual orientations, it has become more comfortable for nurses and managers of different sexes to relate. Lesbian nurses for example may not consider femininity or masculinity and an important factor when resolving issues at work or seeking advice. Such issues, combined with reduced gaps between people of different sexes renders sex a small factor to consider when choosing a role model.

Identifying own role models

As organizations and different industries seek ways to make employees more comfortable, employees are allowed more freedom to make decisions on how to manage their careers. They are also more involved in any decision-making processes that affect their careers. Senior nurses are today allowed to choose their own role models, rather than having being assigned to them. In the past, many organizations assigned new employees and middle-level managers to seniors in the company as role models. Today, this trend has changed and nurses can choose their own role models.

As this happens, senior nurses have the opportunity to chose a role model they feel most comfortable with. While in the past it was assumed women would be more comfortable with fellow women, this is not the case anymore. The liberty to choose a role model for oneself allows the senior nurses to freely interact with leaders from the same and different sexes. A female senior nurse will easily choose a male manager as a role model if she feels closer to him. The same goes for male nurses.

The issue of gender imbalances in nursing

The nursing industry has for a long time suffered the highest level of gender imbalance. According to Frankel (2008), “gender imbalance in nursing is more striking than in any other field of science”. As recent as 2003, the number of male nurses in the United States still accounted for less than 15% of all the nurses in the country. In Victoria for example, male accounted for 8.40% of the total nurses. As more and more men struggle to fight the stereotype, many lack proper role models as most of their superiors are females. The issue of gender imbalance has in its own way helped break the barrier between people of different sexes, as far as role modeling is concerned (Elyse, 1979). For male senior nurses, many times they have no option than to pick female managers as role models, as they make the majority. As this trend works and delivers results, female nurses are also able to trust their male seniors and consult them.

Team building and training in healthcare is also focused on making nurses from different sexes more comfortable with each other, in a bid to encourage more male nurses. Hearing each other out and identifying the needs of everyone helps the industry make it a comfortable profession for both sexes. Many hospitals and colleges have put in place measures and taken initiatives to attract male nurses, part of it being, having enough male managers in the hospitals that male nurses can talk to, and breaking the barriers between people of different sexes to make everyone feel comfortable in the profession.

The functions of role models

“Role models are highly important for us psychologically, helping to guide us through life during our development, to make important decisions that affect the outcome of our lives, careers and other developments” (Basow, 1980). In nursing, managers have have to fulfill different functions as role models. Even as they serve as role models, the key managerial functions, remain defined and important regardless of how they are applied. The four functions of role models are: planning, organizing, leading and controlling. The functions are left to managers and senior nurses in the profession. They all serve an important role in achieving management visions and the healthcare industry’s goals.

Planning

“The first component of a good role model is planning and a manager must determine what an organization’s goals are to achieve them” (Neumark & Rosella, 1998). In the healthcare industry, planning is based on the regions and hospital’s vision and mission statement. Being among the most critical industries in any country’s development, managers have had to do so many adjustments on their strategies to fit the current professional needs and patients’ expectations. Managers are part of the teams that are responsible for ensuring proper allocation of resources, implementation of regulations and mentorship for young professionals.

Organizing

Managers are responsible for organizing a company’s resources, people and responsibilities. Senior management in hospitals and the healthcare industry oversee the overall organization of the business by having all the senior nurses report to them. It is the managers’ responsibility to know how many people and resources are needed for a particular task in a department. It is also their task to help the senior nurses meet the set targets and objectives of the industry. When this is lacking, it means their supervisory responsibilities are failing.

Leading

A leader is supposed to not only give directions but also motivate his/her team to meet an organization’s goals. The healthcare industry through the doctors and senior nurses are able to deliver the results expected of the industry. Remarkable leadership is that where seniors are involved in helping others achieve their targets rather than dictating them. Mentors are supposed to give directions and use their experience to help their juniors resolve challenges without wasting so much time figuring solutions that the mentor may already have. Managing and leading are different responsibilities but in many organizations, both responsibilities are assigned to managers.

Control

“The controlling function involves monitoring the firm’s performance to make sure goals are being met” (Adair, 2002). It involves being able to balance an organization’s costs and performance to meet specific goals. In healthcare, nurses are entrusted with decisions that directly affect lives. A manager and a mentor must therefore ensure that those under his/her supervision adhere to set rules. Instead of using forceful control, mentors are supposed to encourage performance through motivational strategies such as training on new technologies and career advancement, having fun and innovative working environments.

Every person must be trained and guided to a level where they have control of their job position and responsibilities. The strategy allows the nurses to present and experiment new creative ideas, some of which may turn out to be the biggest medical ideas. Mentors must be keen to analyze and develop any creative ideas that the senior nurses come up and have them developed. By creating fewer management layers in the healthcare sector, managers will be able to encourage staff innovations, a strategy that will allow them grow their revenues and provide better healthcare services.

Conclusion and recommendations

As stated earlier, at a time when so many other issues are at the forefront in healthcare provision, the issues of role models doesn’t seem worthy of much attention. However, it is important to note that the issue certainly deserves all the attention it can get as the industry struggles with shortages and retention problems. It is important for the stakeholders to recognize that “the issue of role models is more important now more than ever as role models are necessary for the recruitment and retention of nurses during the current nursing shortage, the shortage that affects all areas of health care delivery” (Kuokkanen & Leino-Kilpi, 2000)

As Benner (2001) points out, “leadership for senior nurses is primarily about making decisions, delegating appropriately, resolving conflicts and acting with integrity”. Manager’s experiences as leaders should allow them to manage the schedules and shifts effectively and ensure that patients are well cared for. The elements that manager should thrive to achieve include bigger leadership capabilities, which will enable them effectively develop their team and serve patients under their care in a better way. As managers, they should purpose to develop their leadership skills through mentoring and coaching interventions. Part of the process should include training, attending leadership conferences and furthering their studies and skills to give them more professional approach to my career.

A sector which has an open communication culture will allow nurses air their concerns and complains, some of which may be affecting their service delivery. It also will allow managers and the executive relate and connect better with every part of the organization including employees at the lowest level. Managers and nurses need to share a relationship that allows the nurses to forward any problems and challenges before they proliferate and negatively affect service. Healthy communication between people on all levels is a good way to source information and allow the managers make more informed decision, considering both the junior and senior nurses’ needs. Although a sector which adopts a culture of punishment for poor performance may be able to improve its productivity, loyalty and continuous improvement will only be made possible through openness and mentorship.

To serve as effective leaders, senior nurses are expected to establish group and individual identification among their teams by maintaining their effectiveness and using appropriate problem-solving techniques. Good leaders can be defined as “visionary, equipped with strategies, a plan and a desire to direct their teams and services to a future goal” (Bondas,2002). Good leaders are also expected to be passionate about their work and their teams, have the ability to motivate others, seek to constantly inspire their juniors and find solution to problems.

The expectations on senior nurses to be good leaders as that described above are many and continues to grow, as they get more involved in management tasks and responsibilities. In order for them to be respected and earn the trust of their teams, they must portray and apply these characteristics. The need for someone to offer the much needed support and mentorship therefore, becomes paramount and inevitable. In the profession, when this is lacking, it may be impossible to develop any proper clinical practices. According to Bondas (2002), “professional standards in nursing are achieved by enabling the growth of competent practitioners”.

Different components form the culture of an organization and impact management behaviors. Behavioral regularities which include language and dressing is one of them. The other component is dominating values which are benefits conferred or expressed by the group. The third component is norms which are behavioral patterns or things which every member of the sector is trained or expected to do. Other components are rules, philosophy and climate. Rules determine how people behave in an organization while philosophy is the underlying beliefs, values and the emotional climate in an organization. Climate is the physical layout and design of different work spaces.

As leaders, managers should intend to work on being more visionary and equip themselves with the required strategies. Such qualities will help them direct their team and services to a better future in the industry. To be an effective leader, they should also purpose to work on problem-solving skills and develop their teams.

Looking at the future,nurses require dynamic and a passionate mentorship to inspire them to be what is expected of them. Managing time and managing information are part of the process. In the nursing profession, time management is of essence and could make a difference on the quality of care accorded to patients. This is also in consideration to the fact that leadership in nursing involves caring for the safety of patients. Safety is ensured when patients are attended to on time, given medication on time and followed up in a timely manner. Senior nurses will only be able to achieve this with the help of their managers, regardless of their sex.

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