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Management style among nurses affects staff retention


Nurses in management roles should be taught “transformational leadership” skills in order to boost retention of nursing staff in the early stages of their career, suggests a Canadian study.

Researchers, from McGill University’s Ingram school of nursing, noted that encouraging nurses to work towards a collective goal within a supportive group – a style of management called transformational leadership – can have positive effects on the quality of the care given to patients.

McGill University

Management style among nurses affects staff retention

Mélanie Lavoie-Tremblay

It was also a predictor of nurses’ intentions to stay on at their current healthcare facilities, they highlighted.

Conversely – and not unexpectedly – they noted that abusive leadership practices potentially led to poorer quality of care and to a strong intention to quit.

The findings come from a sample of 541 registered nurses in Quebec, with less than five years of nursing experience who completed an anonymous online survey and self-reported on the effect of different management styles.

“Paying close attention to the leadership practices of nurse managers could go a long way in improving patient care and increasing the retention rate among our new nurses,” said Dr Mélanie Lavoie-Tremblay, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

“Managers should use the results to provide training for nurse managers focusing on transformational leadership practices and the dangers of abusive leadership,” she added.

“Abusive leadership creates working conditions that could be detrimental to the practice of nursing at career start”

Study authors

The research comes as the poor retention of nursing staff by employers was identified as a key problem preventing an overall increase in NHS nurse numbers.

Health Education England chief executive Ian Cumming said earlier this week that a failure by employers to tackle poor retention of existing staff was a barrier that needed to be overcome in order to achieve a predicted 80,000 increase in the NHS workforce by 2020 – a target set out in the workforce planning body’s latest plans in December.

He said: “Retention is one of the biggest areas we have got to start focusing the system on in the next year because we can keep training more and more people, but if we are not keeping the people we have already trained we are stacking up problems and costs for the system.”


Readers' comments (8)

  • I had a variety of jobs before I became a nurse and the thing that struck me the most about nursing was the culture of bullying. I've never seen anything like it in my life! Ultimately, this is the cause of attrition.

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  • It varies really. I have seen inspirational leadership and am not willing to give up on my honourable profession-yet. However I have also seen and been on the end of bullying. It is in any work culture as my friend who is a lawyer observed her juniors in tears due to an old dragon giving them a telling of .
    leadership courses and coaching could help. some senior staff behave negatively due to stress which is no excuse but treating the root cause may help. Let alone staff shortages,deadlines ect,etc,etc

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  • michael stone

    This does - as an outsider, with a rather cynical 'take' on some 'health research' - strike me as potentially a very useful thing to study. Of course, even if 'the evidence is there and clearly right', that doesn't mean that achieving the changes the evidence 'says would help' is easy !

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  • I wish more young staff with leadership qualities and good people skills would be targeted and encouraged to progress. In my experience its often the cock sure 'yes men/women' that apply for promotion and then enjoy the 'power' it can bring Many of the 'do as I say not as I do' type. Then other good nurses for what ever reason , maybe lack of confidence to apply for promotion, get disallusioned and fed up with the profession and leave. Good People skills is the key to keeping staff feel valued and happy. A two way respect as well ,as if a Manager is inadequate and not hard working it effects the whole team, there's less of a sense of pride in running the ward.

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  • This has to be the essential issue too many yes men or women at the top all clambering on top of each other to get there. Have you noticed how many have their own agenda. The frontline is a war zone out there and you have these clowns harping on about leadership and co-production, lol. The words I'd like to say but don't. The only leadership is right at the front - the troops who are keeping these brand bundlers and their pensions in a job. The only thing that will change is when it gets so bad leaders will emerge within the ranks without given authority and tell all these post Blair drop-out management what is what.

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  • I too have worked in a variety of jobs throughout my life - and what I always find is that WOMEN at the top are the most unpleasant / bullying to work for.

    I am female by the way ...

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  • I've been thinking about this for a long while and what struck me was that we are suffering from a mass infestation of incredibly bad management. I don't know how to get round it other than changing the whole game of taking nursing management out the whole equation. Nursing management have done an incredible damage all round the country, we simply have too many with too many big ideas that are ruining the whole NHS. It really is that bad that I would term it as criminal. I think in years to come we'll all look back and realise this. Perhaps one day we will be able to put them on trial, but until then! I should have listened to my parents who wisely stated 'dont work for the NHS as nurses are incredibly badly treated'. Nurses are badly treated and should anyone dare speak up they are ostracised. I know as I've been there when the organisation tried to shut me up. I now have to think about my family's well being whilst the cock happy CEO Carries on in his approach. I believe his time is running out though with the rest of them and believe karma has a funny way of getting them. To all you other nurses do your best and let's hope for a better future. Times are changing and I believe we are in the death throws of bad management losing control. From a real whistle blower much love to you all x

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  • Being a very knowledgable nurse of 30 yrs i find it is assumed we are not up today with research so therefore I am the Dearie of an old bid not the reflective portable portfolio armed informed nurse that I am.
    24hrs in toxic arrogant environments is all I can hack and have started my own business . Good bye nursing...

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