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Articles, case studies, and success stories to guide and inspire healthcare HR, Organizational Development, and Clinical professionals.

5 Common Pitfalls for Frontline Supervisors, Charge Nurses chardyadmin

While strong performance often secure promotions in healthcare and nursing management, first-time supervisors may be navigating uncharted territory when it comes to leadership skills. In other words, the best employees don't always make the best leaders.


Gallup reports that the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.


Poor leadership skills can have a ripple effect across a department or nursing unit. It's no secret that turnover can cost healthcare organizations thousands of dollars per employee.  


Healthcare organizations can be proactive on this front and position first-time supervisors for success. Below are five of the common pitfalls you can help your first time supervisors and charge nurses to avoid.


  • Over-supervising:

Anxious to excel in their new position, frontline supervisors and charge nurses may have a tendency to micro-manage their teams. This negatively impacts productivity and team development and can leave managers feeling overwhelmed.

  • Under-supervising:

Some new supervisors fail to provide adequate direction because they don't want to appear bossy among colleagues who, until recently, were their peers. This can negatively impact employee engagement and lead to increased turnover as well.

  • Failing to delegate:

Supervisors and charge nurses are in management positions because of their experience and knowledge, and sometimes they find it difficult to delegate tasks to those who are less experienced.

  • Blaming management: If a frontline supervisor or charge nurse is uncomfortable implementing policies and procedures, he or she may be inclined to shift blame to management. It's important that the management team demonstrate unity, even if they don't always agree.


  • Ignoring concerns of the team:

New managers can be so consumed with their new role and the increased responsibility that they forget to check-in with the team. Listening to the concerns of staff members is key to a supervisor's success.  


Frontline supervisors and charge nurses must have the ability to communicate well, think strategically and lead change; all while understanding and being tuned into team dynamics. When a healthcare organization invests in the development of promising leaders, the staff, upper management and patients also benefit. 

Three Key Traits of a Successful Charge Nurse chardyadmin

They’ve been compared to educators, mediators and even air traffic controllers. They may perform managerial tasks such as scheduling and evaluations, while also acting as liaisons to hospital leaders and physicians. They may often resolve conflicts and usually are agents of change setting a positive example for the entire staff. Ultimately, they must ensure the safety and care of patients in their unit.

These are just some of the roles and responsibilities of charge nurses. They are decisive and resourceful “veterans” who have gained experience on the job. In addition to their clinical competency, here are three nurse leader skills that will help charge nurses succeed:

1. The Ability to Lead and Motivate Others

Leadership is dependent on the ability to motivate others. A leader recognizes the individual strengths of every member of her team as well as their areas for improvement. The leader outlines the objectives for the team and clearly outlines each person’s responsibility. To motivate the team, a leader will offer empathy, advice, positive reinforcement or even terse but respectful orders. Of course, all these forms of direction require the charge nurse to have excellent communication skills.

2. Strong Critical Thinking Skills

In addition to being excellent communicators, nursing managers must also possess strong critical thinking skills. Charge nurses are responsible for making sure that staff members have appropriate training and qualifications for their respective assignments. They must match colleagues’ competencies with the needs of patients. Nurse leaders must also ensure adequate resources are available, policies are followed and regulatory requirements are met. In other words, they must be problem solvers throughout the process: recognizing issues before they arise, addressing them in real-time as they happen and providing measures to prevent similar issues in the future.

3. A Willingness to Embrace Change

Finally, charge nurses must possess a willingness to not only embrace change, but also champion it. As nurse leaders, they are in a unique position to see the big picture as well as the details that will improve patient care and staff morale. NCharge, a charge nurse leadership training program developed by Catalyst Learning Company, stresses the importance of being agents and champions of change. Leaders will challenge the status quo when it benefits the team and their objectives.

As leaders, charge nurses must embody all these qualities as they reinforce the strengths of the team and help ensure the greatest care for patients.