But I Didn’t Know I Had the Authority

Doctors MeetingPerformance Leadership Consulting In severe pain, a woman was taken to a hospital emergency room on Christmas day. She was told by the charge nurse that medicine could not be prescribed until she was admitted into a regular hospital room. It was flu season, and no beds were available.

A family member asked to speak to the nursing supervisor. After several hours, the nursing supervisor appeared and assigned the patient to an ICU room, where a doctor prescribed the appropriate medicine. When the charge nurse was asked why he didn’t send the patient to the ICU room earlier, he replied, “I didn’t know I had the authority.” If he had known he could do it, the patient could have received the medication and begun healing and feeling better hours earlier. The ER bed and staff could have been freed up to take care of incoming patients more quickly, and a lot of fear and frustration of the patient and family could have been prevented.

Quiz: What was the cause of this delay in treatment?

  1. It was flu season.
  2. The patient didn’t sign a release.
  3. It was Christmas day.
  4. The charge nurse did not know he had the authority.

Of course, you answered “4.” It was a lack of understanding by the charge nurse that he had the authority to make this decision.  This lack of understanding is unfortunately present in too many situations within organizations. Not understanding the scope of one’s authority can cause several problems:

  • It prevents people from serving customers/clients/patients efficiently. 
  • It creates bottlenecks and stress for the people at higher levels when many decisions could be delegated.
  • It fails to fully take advantage of the decision-making of people on the front lines, or “lowest levels” where problems or needs first arise.

Don’t let this happen in your job! Check out the course “Responsibility, Authority, and Delegating,” where you will learn the following:

  • Methods to clarify your level of responsibility and authority with your supervisor
  • How to ask for more authority if you desire it
  • What to delegate the following:
    • Tasks that consume a lot of your time
    • Tasks that require similar actions repeatedly
    • Tasks for which you and your team can create a checklist or clear decision-making process
  • How to overcome any barriers you may have delegating. Have you ever had any of these thoughts?
    • “I don’t have time to train someone else to do this. I can get it done faster.”
    • “No one can do this task as well as I can (I’M INDISPENSABLE!).”
    • “I tried delegating, but the person didn’t do it right and then I had to take the responsibility back.”

You will learn techniques to deal with these barriers to assure yourself that the tasks will be done correctly.

  • Effective choices of words to delegate and coach your employees to take more authority such as
    • coaching words for future actions (not dwelling on past mistakes).
    • showing confidence in your ability to delegate.
    • delivering positive reinforcement for all steps to acquire new skills.
    • avoiding bloopers and blunders in your attempts to provide reinforcement.

I’ll tell you about all the mistakes I’ve made and observed, so you don’t have to make them!

Look forward to seeing you at “Responsibility, Authority, and Delegating,” where learning is fun.

Responsibility, Authority, and Delegating for supervisors


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