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How Does The Nurse Manager Handle Marginal Employees?

As a nurse manager, you are tasked with the responsibility of leading your team to provide the best possible patient care. However, what happens when you encounter an employee who is not meeting expectations? Marginal employees can be a challenge to handle, but it is a crucial aspect of your role to address the situation in a professional and effective manner.

In this article, we will explore the various strategies and techniques that nurse managers can use to handle marginal employees. From setting clear expectations to providing support and feedback, we will delve into the best practices that can help you manage your team effectively and ensure that your patients receive the highest quality care possible.

Nurse managers handle marginal employees by providing constructive feedback, setting clear expectations, and developing performance improvement plans. They also offer additional training and support to help the employee improve their skills. If the employee fails to meet expectations, the nurse manager may need to take disciplinary action or make the difficult decision to terminate their employment.

How Does the Nurse Manager Handle Marginal Employees?

How Does the Nurse Manager Handle Marginal Employees?

Nurse managers play an essential role in ensuring the smooth functioning of healthcare organizations. One of their primary responsibilities is to manage and guide their team of nurses, ensuring that all employees are performing to the best of their ability. However, even with the best intentions, there may be times when managers need to handle employees who are not meeting expectations. These are known as marginal employees, and it can be challenging to navigate this situation. Here’s how a nurse manager can handle marginal employees effectively.

Identifying Marginal Employees

The first step in handling marginal employees is identifying who they are. Marginal employees are those who are not meeting the standards set by the organization or who are not performing as expected. Nurse managers need to be observant and pay attention to their team’s performance to identify these employees. It’s important to keep in mind that not all employees who are struggling are marginal employees. Some may need additional support, training, or guidance to meet expectations.

Once a nurse manager identifies a marginal employee, they need to assess the situation and determine the root cause of the problem. This can be done by evaluating the employee’s performance, gathering feedback from colleagues, and identifying any potential external factors that may be affecting the employee’s performance.

Addressing the Issue

Once a nurse manager identifies a marginal employee and understands the cause of the issue, it’s time to address the problem. The nurse manager should meet with the employee and discuss their performance, identifying specific areas where they are falling short. The conversation should be constructive and focused on finding a solution that will help the employee improve their performance.

During this meeting, the nurse manager should also provide the employee with clear expectations and goals for improvement. The employee should be aware of what they need to do to meet expectations and the consequences of not meeting those expectations. This conversation should be documented and shared with the employee to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Providing Support and Resources

In some cases, marginal employees may need additional support or resources to improve their performance. Nurse managers should work with the employee to identify any training, mentoring, or coaching that may be necessary. This may involve providing additional resources, arranging for additional training sessions, or even assigning a mentor or coach to support the employee.

It’s essential to ensure that the employee has the resources and support necessary to improve their performance. This demonstrates that the manager is invested in their success and is willing to help them achieve their goals.

Documenting the Process

Throughout the process of handling a marginal employee, it’s critical to document everything. This includes the employee’s performance, the conversations held, any resources provided, and the goals and expectations set. This documentation is crucial in case of any disputes or legal issues down the line.

Setting Deadlines and Following Up

After providing support and resources, the nurse manager should set deadlines for improvement and follow up regularly with the employee. This demonstrates that the nurse manager is invested in the employee’s success and is monitoring their progress. If the employee is still struggling to meet expectations, the nurse manager may need to consider more severe consequences.

The Benefits of Handling Marginal Employees Effectively

Handling marginal employees effectively can have several benefits for both the nurse manager and the organization. It can lead to improved employee performance, increased productivity, and higher job satisfaction. Additionally, it can prevent the loss of talented employees who may leave the organization due to ineffective management.

Handling Marginal Employees Vs. Terminating Employment

The decision to handle a marginal employee or terminate their employment ultimately depends on the situation. In some cases, terminating employment may be the best course of action. However, in most cases, handling marginal employees effectively can lead to improved performance and retention. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option and make an informed decision.


Handling marginal employees can be a challenging task for a nurse manager. However, by identifying the issue, addressing it constructively, providing resources and support, documenting the process, and setting deadlines, nurse managers can handle marginal employees effectively. This can lead to improved employee performance, increased productivity, and higher job satisfaction, ultimately benefiting the organization as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Marginal Employees?

Marginal employees are those whose performance falls below the expected standards. They may be struggling with their work or displaying disruptive behavior, which affects the work environment and patient care.

It is the responsibility of the nurse manager to identify and address the performance issues of marginal employees in a timely and effective manner to ensure patient safety and maintain a positive working environment.

What are the Steps in Addressing Marginal Employees?

The nurse manager should follow a systematic approach when addressing the performance issues of marginal employees. This includes identifying the problem, documenting the behavior or performance issues, discussing the problem with the employee, setting clear objectives for improvement, and monitoring progress.

The nurse manager should provide support and resources to the employee to help them improve their performance. If the employee fails to improve, the nurse manager may need to consider disciplinary action or termination.

How Does the Nurse Manager Provide Feedback to Marginal Employees?

The nurse manager should provide honest and constructive feedback to marginal employees to help them understand the areas where they need to improve. Feedback should be specific, objective, and focused on behavior rather than personality.

The nurse manager should also acknowledge the employee’s strengths and provide positive reinforcement for improvements made. Feedback should be provided in a private setting and documented for future reference.

How Does the Nurse Manager Support Marginal Employees?

The nurse manager should provide support and resources to marginal employees to help them improve their performance. This may include additional training, coaching, or mentoring. The nurse manager should also ensure that the employee’s workload is manageable and their job responsibilities are clearly defined.

The nurse manager should create a supportive and positive work environment where employees feel comfortable asking for help and receiving feedback. Open communication and regular check-ins can help identify and address performance issues early on.

What are the Legal Considerations when Handling Marginal Employees?

When handling marginal employees, the nurse manager should be aware of legal considerations such as discrimination and wrongful termination. The nurse manager should ensure that they are following the organization’s policies and procedures and treating all employees fairly and consistently.

If disciplinary action or termination is necessary, the nurse manager should document the reasons for the action and ensure that it is based on legitimate performance issues rather than personal biases or discrimination.

CUSP: The Role of the Nurse Manager

In conclusion, handling marginal employees is a challenging task for any nurse manager. It requires a delicate balance between understanding the root cause of the problem and taking corrective action. By providing ongoing feedback, coaching, and mentoring, the nurse manager can help marginal employees improve their performance and become more effective members of the team.

Furthermore, effective communication is essential when dealing with marginal employees. The nurse manager must be clear and concise in their expectations and provide specific examples of where the employee is falling short. Regular check-ins and follow-ups can help ensure that the employee stays on track and is making progress towards their goals.

In the end, the nurse manager must remember that their primary goal is to provide quality patient care. Marginal employees can negatively impact patient outcomes, so it is crucial to address any performance issues promptly. By taking a proactive approach and implementing strategies to help marginal employees improve, the nurse manager can create a positive and productive work environment for everyone.

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