Shared governance has been around for more than 40 years. And although we have known where issues in implementation lie, innovative solutions have only recently emerged. Here are six surefire tips to strengthen any organization’s shared governance program.
- Invest in dedicated shared governance facilitators.
New positions dedicated to shared governance are ideal, but new employee hours can be pricey. If you don’t have new hours for a new position, why not designate already existent hours to a dedicated shared governance facilitator? Create an internal expert on shared governance by carving out formal job duties within existing hours of an educator, Magnet coordinator, or clinical nurse specialist. Some organizations even rotate people through the hours on a periodic basis, leaving a wake of experts as the years progress. Within a few years, you find that you have built a network of internal consultants within your own organization.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your communication mechanisms with staff.
Knowledge is power but only if it is effectively communicated. While surveying organizations to evaluate the implementation of shared governance, we sometimes find that professionals don’t realize that they are empowered in certain areas because people forgot to tell them. It can be that simple. So, make sure that the communication mechanisms, such as blogs, newsletters, listservs, email chains, and meetings, are effectively communicating the decisions, successes, and changes that are outcomes of your shared governance model.
- Focus on middle managers to fully implement shared governance.
Everyone knows that a toxic manager can sabotage just about anything. On the other hand, a supervisor knowledgeable about how important the manager’s role is to enact shared governance can make all of the difference in the world, cheerleading a unit’s staff to effective levels of participation. However, managing in a shared governance environment is not intuitive. Managers need onboarding and then continuing education to learn how to facilitate, integrate, and coordinate shared governance activities, as well as take ownership of leading and making operational decisions. Additionally, the chief nursing officer should set aside alone and group time with managers, to set clear goals and objectives that can be embedded in employee performance appraisals and peer reviews. Give your managers a chance to shine this year by giving them the education and time they need.
- Ensure that shared governance is a component in every employee’s job description, peer review, employee evaluation, and performance appraisal.
Just as expectations for new management behaviors should be clear to managers, the same applies to professional clinical staff. Shared governance depends on effective participation by everyone, so goals and behaviors should be set for every employee in their job descriptions, peer reviews, and employee evaluations. And because these documents and processes exist in a shared governance environment, they should be visited and revised frequently to keep stride with a progressive staff and constantly changing environment.
- Market the importance of your shared governance program to your clientele through your staff.
Again, knowledge is power. An empowered staff should be able to articulate concepts and the importance of shared governance to just about anyone — and that includes its cost effectiveness. There’s no need to worry about marketing shared governance to staff that can already speak to its worth.
- Hang tough; the COVID environment will get better.
History tells us that crises, such as a pandemic, eventually end, one way or another. You’re going to need a structure and processes to move forward when the new normal emerges. That’s where shared governance comes in.