How to adjust to changes in management as an NP

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A group of male and female nurses and doctors consulting each other at the glass deskHealth care is a rapidly evolving field. Whether you are a recently accredited nurse practitioner (NP) or a seasoned veteran, you are likely using different technology and strategies as an NP than when you first begin your nursing career. The structure of management in health care organizations also can go through many alterations in quick succession. Especially in larger organizations, employees can see multiple leadership changes over the course of their tenure. If you have become accustomed to a particular individual overseeing your work, the announcement that a management change is on the horizon can be unsettling.

While reorganization can be challenging, it does not necessarily have to be bad for your career. Implement these simple steps to help navigate the shifting tides of a management change in your workplace.

Determine your role

When management changes occur, it is understandable that you might be worried about how the change will affect your own role within the organization. The new leader may bring different ideas and practices to the organization, which can carry a steep learning curve. He or she may choose to discard some familiar practices that you are comfortable with and prefer. While you do not control the details of the transition, you are not powerless. The first step is to realize that you are not alone in these concerns. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the most common question that is asked by employees during a management change is how the change will affect their own role. Recognizing that any negative feelings you experience are normal will give you greater freedom to accept them and move on.

Once you have worked through the emotions that you may be feeling, it is important to ask about expectations for your performance moving forward. If possible, discuss the change with your former manager or another member of the leadership team to prepare yourself before the change occurs. This information can dispel any unnecessary fears as soon as possible and allow you to focus on the challenges that you actually will be faced with. When the new manager takes over, ask if you can meet for a few minutes during the first week to discuss the expectations and responsibilities of your position. Avoid making assumptions about the new person’s management style, and do not assume that your role will stay the same.

Ultimately, try to remind yourself that change can be good. By discussing your role and expectations with the new manager right at the beginning, you will show him or her that you are dedicated to your position and willing to help. Management change can present employees with new responsibilities and challenges that may ultimately lead to future promotion.

Focus on goals

Perhaps you see the management change as exciting and welcome it. But if you are someone who does not enjoy change, thinking about altering the daily processes and responsibilities that you have grown accustomed to may be stressful. If you fall into the latter group, instead of becoming preoccupied with all the small changes, try focusing on the larger goals. Your department likely has new objectives to accomplish during this transition and beyond. Small changes along the way may be inconvenient, but they will be easier to swallow if you keep the big picture in mind.

If the goals of your new manager or the department in general are not apparent, do not hesitate to ask for clarification. Having a clear vision for the direction that your workplace is headed and what should be accomplished is important for seeing these objectives come to fruition. If you and other staff members do not know the ultimate goal of the management change, the unknowns will be a source of stress and additionally will inhibit your ability to help carry out the strategy.

As an NP, you maintain a critical role in implementing changes to reach the goals of your health care organization. In a 2015 study reported in the American Society for Pain Management Nursing, researchers examining long-term care found that NPs and clinical nurse specialists are ideal candidates for implementing quality improvement measures. Whatever facet of health care you work in, your skills and leadership abilities are critical resources for ensuring the quality of care during a transition period and implementing new strategies and practices. Try to focus on ways that you can help accomplish the goals that are set and encourage others to do the same. Your leadership can make the process easier for everyone involved.

Keep expectations realistic

At the end of the day, management changes typically come a fair share of growing pains no matter what field you are in. While determining your role and focusing on achieving specific goals will help ease the transition, it also is important to keep your expectations realistic. Adjusting to change, especially a new boss, takes time. According to Forbes magazine, it is reasonable to expect that your role or responsibilities may not be defined right away. Be patient and keep working, especially in the first few weeks when the adjustments will be greatest. By keeping your expectations realistic, you will be ready for any extra challenges that come your way.

These growing pains likely will not last forever, and if you are able to weather the storm with a good attitude, your employers and the new manager will likely take notice.