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by Mary Mippins
23 February 2009

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The art of good management

The art of good management is delegation. I am obviously not a good manager. I delegate, but can’t help checking that what I delegated has been done. More often than not it hasn’t, so I end up doing it myself anyway.

Take appraisals. I hate appraisals. I try to engage, really I do, and I go through the motions using all the right techniques – body language non-threatening, sympathetic noises during a lull in the proceedings, cup of tea and chocolate digestive onhand, as well as tissues.

But however much effort you’ve paid to a member of staff over the year, there is still something they have managed to store up to throw at you just when you begin to relax a little. This moment usually occurs at the time you are reaching for the chocolate digestives, having given yourself a mental pat on the back for not poking the appraised one in the eye when the subject of money comes up again.

Nurse appraisals, in particular, I can do without. I am not a clinician and do not want to offer myself up as a sacrifice to these beings from another world. A world where tea breaks must be taken on the dot or they will shrivel up and turn into a little heap of dust, like vampires stepping into the sunlight. A world where any second worked over their allotted time causes them such pain and anguish that they have to wail and thrash about in front of anyone interested and then put in for overtime just to let us all know they are martyrs to their jobs.

I pondered on giving another nurse appraisal a go, I really did, but thought better of it and delegated to the senior nurse and one of the partners. Which would have been fine, had the partner in question not bottled it at the last minute and insisted I sit next to him “for moral support”. Or, what he really meant: “Don’t think you’re getting off that lightly – tell her what we really think of her and don’t hold back.”

Great. I ran through the rules in my head as the door opened and Attila the Hun plonked herself down, clutching a great sheaf of notes to her bosom.

“Putting the appraisee at ease”. We stared each other down and she never blinked once. I tried a tentative smile. She curled her lip.

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“Use the sandwich technique – positive/negative/positive”. “You make a nice cup of tea. The staff hate you. You make a nice cup of tea.”

“Form an action plan”. Make her the tea lady. Kick sniggering partner under the table. Kick him again.

The art of good management is to know when you are beaten. I am a good manager.

Related MiP Event presentation: Motivating your staff through effective delegation by Hilary Haman

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Always be on time and ensure that you follow the protocols. If correct procedures are not followed then you will encounter problems” – Terry Joughin, location withheld

“I schedule nurse appraisals by a partner when I am out. Has not let me down yet!” – Name and address withheld