Up to this point the planning and implementing of the Preceptorship program has been relatively painless. The new colleagues are working with the identified preceptors, weekly goal sheets are being submitted and follow-up sessions have been occurring with the trainer and unit director. There’s only one issue that has come up and it is creating havoc on a care area: the new colleague and preceptor do not “get along.”
The trainer is unable to plan ahead for a personality conflict between a new colleague and preceptor. It is impossible to predict who is not going to be able to work and communicate with whom. What the trainer can do is provide information to both preceptor and new colleague on ways to handle problems. A process that can be used is as follows:
• Define the nature of the problem.
• Identify possible causes of the problem.
• List a number of possible solutions for each cause: identify the evidence for each one.
• Select the best solution.
• Decide on necessary actions and implement them.
• Reassess, evaluate and re-plan as necessary.
If this process does not successfully reduce the conflict between the new colleague and preceptor, the trainer can utilize the following approach:
• Identify the conflict
• Talk with the new colleague and preceptor individually to assess the conflict
• Recognize what actions have been done to eliminate the conflict
• List compromises that can be used to eliminate the conflict
• Schedule time to discuss the conflict with the new colleague and preceptor
• Provide solutions to alleviate the conflict
• Plan strategies to alleviate the conflict
Unfortunately personality conflicts occur between nurses more often than not and there really is no way to predict when a conflict will occur. When employed as a trainer for a disease management company I was responsible for coordinating and implementing the preceptor program. Since the current number of staff was small, I needed to use the same individuals as preceptors several times a year.
I recall a situation where a new colleague was assigned a preceptor who had been serving in the role for several months. The preceptor never talked with me or the unit director about the expectation to serve as a preceptor but acted out this anger with a new colleague. It did not take long for the new colleague to walk out of the organization, never to return. The time, energy, and resources invested in the training of this new colleague were wasted because one preceptor was tired of functioning in the role. The preceptor was placed on probation and a remediation plan was put into place to address work issues and expectations. Unfortunately, the new colleague would not return and a potentially outstanding employee was lost to the organization and to the clients. There were no winners in this situation.
The preceptor-new colleague relationship continues until a pre-determined period of time has passed. The relationship will end and the new colleague will begin providing care as an independent nurse. Next week we’ll focus on bringing this relationship to a close. See you then!