Employee performance management is essential for the successful operation of any organization, and it is even more critical for healthcare providers. Poor performance among medical professionals can contribute both directly and indirectly to adverse outcomes for patients (Weenink et al., 2017). To perform well means not only carrying out all specific tasks and processes correctly but also upholding the profession’s overall values. Considering the central role they play at all levels of patient care, ensuring a high standard of nurse performance is of paramount importance. To achieve this result, any performance concerns that arise must be addressed promptly and efficiently with the help of up-to-date best practices and technologies.
The particular challenges involved in assessing nurse performance are apparent in the case of Nurse J. B. Though an experienced registered nurse with a strong work ethic and more than sufficient medical knowledge, she has shown uneven performance in her new position. Specifically, during her initial 60 days on the job, J. B.’s brusque manner gave rise to complaints. Patients and colleagues alike claimed that she was unresponsive, dismissive of “irrational” patient concerns about their treatments, and occasionally rude when they insisted on being heard out. This approach undermines the principles of person-centered care by discouraging patients from cooperating or bringing up even their most valid concerns. Furthermore, it engenders patient resistance to prescriptions and impairs nurse-patient communications, damaging the quality of care. It can also compromise the patients’ safety if they stop following necessary instructions or fail to report their health concerns.
A performance review provides an ideal opportunity to begin addressing those concerns. To resolve the issue in an effective and mutually satisfactory way, the manager must possess such leadership competencies as emotional intelligence, conflict management skills, and prudence. Both the manager and the nurse must see this process as an opportunity for the latter’s professional improvement rather than as punishment (Weenink et al., 2017). J. B. should be given advance notice about the need to discuss her conduct. During the review, the manager needs to look for the source of the problem, which may have to do with ingrained attitudes or with work or non-work-related stress. In some cases, it may turn out to be connected to health issues, such as a mental illness or drug use, in which case the nurse should be referred to a dedicated help program. Otherwise, the best route forward would be to recommend behavior adjustments that would improve J. B.’s performance. That includes being more patient, tolerant, considerate, and setting aside more time to address patient concerns.
Information technology provides invaluable tools to improve a nurse’s performance. Most applicably, in J. B.’s case, it can be used to deliver persistent and standardized feedback, whether through an internal system or through external sites used by patients to review medical professionals. Constructive multi-source feedback from patients, colleagues, and managers can be an effective means of encouraging an attitude adjustment, as they are more difficult to dismiss but also provide a more balanced picture. This technique will be applicable both before and after the performance review. A more formal system of electronic performance monitoring and evaluation can also incorporate assessments of professional conduct to encourage persistent improvement efforts. However, excessive reliance on technological measures can cause resistance and lower morale, especially if they are not sufficiently flexible to accommodate the complex realities of healthcare work (Hope et al., 2019). For this reason, supportive human communications remain indispensable for raising nurse performance.
Addressing concerns about nurse performance in a timely and effective manner is essential to improving patient outcomes. Such concerns include the requirements of professional and empathetic conduct that are essential to person-centered care. Addressing nurse performance issues should be done in a supportive and non-punitive fashion to encourage cooperation. In this task, information technology can help by conveying multiple streams of constructive feedback in a more efficient and accessible way. Nevertheless, personal engagement is still central to effective nurse performance management.
- Hope, J., Griffiths, P., Schmidt, P. E., Recio-Saucedo, A., & Smith, G. B. (2019). Impact of using data from electronic protocols in nursing performance management: A qualitative interview study. Journal of nursing management, 27(8), 1682–1690. Web.
- Weenink, J. W., Kool, R. B., Hesselink, G., Bartels, R. H., & Westert, G. P. (2017). Prevention of and dealing with poor performance: an interview study about how professional associations aim to support healthcare professionals. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 29(6), 838-844.