Mission Impossible? Creating Work–Life Harmony


Mission Impossible?

Creating Work–Life Harmony


Recent research reveals that work–life balance—long considered an almost impossible goal—is, in fact, achievable, and that harmony at work and home can be obtained with the two complimenting one another. Nurse managers can play a significant role in facilitating harmony for themselves and staff by inspiring quality practice environments where staff well-being, healthy relationships, and professional practice creates tremendous satisfaction. At the end of the day, happy staff members are more likely to take this sense home with them. Creating a place where staff wants to work requires resolution of the tensions within nurses’ deeply embedded work ethic of self-sacrifice that can also lead to disharmony. How do you lead by example to create quality workplaces? This chapter will help you to recognize the signs of disharmony and strategies for promoting a sense of well-being and harmony at work.


In this chapter, you will learn:

1.    The impact of a “brushfire management” style on harmony at work

2.    The necessity for engaging in personal change to course correct disharmony

3.    Tips for completing your mission


During the past decades when downsizing, restructuring and layoffs were the norm, nurse managers were catapulted into a maelstrom of leadership and operational situations that traditional styles of management could not resolve. In their struggle to adapt many nurse managers unwittingly adopted a “brushfire management” style that continues to this day. Although unlikely to be found in the management literature, this style is highly popular. Borne out of necessity, it is practiced on a daily basis with great intensity and is a major threat to quality practice environments.

Brushfire management occurs when busy managers are constantly trying to “put out fires.” Days typically begin with a plan but within minutes of stepping into the practice environment, the demands begin and managers go from one crisis to another, responding to phone calls, knocks on doors, and a barrage of requests beginning with “Have you got a minute?” As a result, many managers feel mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day, which frequently ends in the evening. A sense of inadequacy can develop, topped off with guilt about things left undone. If that were not enough, the situation replicates itself when the nurse manager goes home to meet the demands of family living and community membership.


You are if you demonstrate some of the following behaviors:

    Your wristwatch has 25 or more hours a day (sometimes you wear two watches).

    You feel stressed most or all of the time.

    You usually arrive at work with wet hair.

    You “can’t get no satisfaction.”

    You are related to Alice’s White Rabbit and are frequently heard to mutter, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important (meeting).”

    You have forgotten how to say “no.”

    The papers scattered about your office because of a tornado last year (at least that is your story and you are sticking to it) are still there.

    You feel like a mouse running on a treadmill or a puppet on a string.

    Guilt is your new BFF (best friend forever)!

    You return to work after hours to “finish up”—or to fill a U-Haul with paperwork to take home.

    You carry two cell phones and use them both at the same time!


    Harmony occurs when you are able to effectively manage your responsibilities at work, in your home, and in your community, leaving you with a sense of emotional and physical well-being.

    Effective management is not about being all things to all people.


If you are prone to a brushfire management style, you are at risk of succumbing to chronic “whirling dervish syndrome.” Your symptoms may include:

    A sense of foreboding about never-ending challenges

    Vertigo, or feeling as if you are spinning in random circles

    The belief that you are going nowhere fast

Furthermore, you often walk backward finishing a conversation with one person as you head to a meeting. For managers with any of these symptoms or signs, burnout is a hair’s breadth away.

If allowed to go unchecked, your physical and mental health may suffer, workplace relationships will deteriorate, and regret will be profound. And the question that begs an answer is, “Who will lead your staff if you are unable to lead yourself and personally demonstrate that sense of well-being at work and at home?”


The following situations are all too common when work life creates disharmony in your personal life:

    You forget to pick your child up from piano lessons.

    You miss your daughter’s soccer game.

    You take a leisurely bubble bath with your “Crackberry” to answer e-mails.

    You have no “me” time.

    Sex or sleep? You choose sleep.

    You are unable to participate in family events because you have “work to do.”

    You allow “guilt” to follow you home from work.

    Your pets run for cover when you arrive home.

    You yell at your houseplants!

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Dec 16, 2017 | Posted by in NURSING | Comments Off on Mission Impossible? Creating Work–Life Harmony
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