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Leaders Know When to Give Hugs when Managers Give Answers
I’d been sitting with a hospitalized relative late one night and went out into the corridor to speak with the nursing night shift manager, with whom I’d become friendly over the past several days. A young nurse came out from the room next door. She asked the manager a question that made it obvious she’d gone to nursing school during the pandemic and thus had little experience working with real patients in a clinical setting.
The manager gave her a technically correct answer but did so in a way that made it obvious that he thought she should have already known the answer. It was clear to me, though, that the manager’s answer had sailed right over that young RN’s head. Before she could go back into her patient’s room I asked the manager to repeat what he’d said in terms that a layperson like me could understand. As he did I could see the light of comprehension in the young nurse’s eyes.
As the manager walked away down the corridor I asked the young nurse how she was doing. Having spent several days with my relative in the room next door, I knew that she not only had a difficult patient but also a challenging group of family members who were always in the room. “I’m doing okay” she said with body language saying she clearly was not okay.
I suggested to her that any time she didn’t understand the answer to a question she request the answer be put into words her patient could understand. I told her to never be afraid to ask for clarification since her patient’s wellbeing could be at stake, and reminded her that part of any manager’s job is teaching newbies the ropes.
I was about to head back into my relative’s room when she blurted out, “Can I give you a hug?” DAISY Cofounder Bonnie Barnes likes to say that nurses give the best hugs. I never did learn that nurse’s name, and never saw her again after she went back into her patient’s room. But I know she is going to be a great nurse.
I also know that when she asked me for that hug I was just a stand-in, a stunt double. The person she really needed to give her a hug on that tough night, at least metaphorically, was her manager.
Managers know how to give answers. Leaders know when to give hugs.