Beat Down Burnout

How to Speak to an Administrator

How do you prepare when you need to talk to an administrator? I once saw a video about how to prepare for a talk with the boss. It was one of those tongue-in-cheek silent-movie things, where the actor got all dressed up, checked the time several times, his wife fussed over his suit and tie, then at the appointed time he went into the bathroom and flushed his head down the toilet.


Difficult meetings feel like that sometimes. When physicians and nurses have to meet with administrators and convince them to come over to their point of view, it often feels that way. There are very good reasons for this. It gets down to personalities and values.


There are four basic personality types. Two are very emotional, and two are not. Administrators happen to be heavily weighted toward one of the personality types that are not emotional. We call this the Blueprint personality type. Physicians are also heavily weighted in one of the nonemotional personality types, the one we call the Knowledge type. Makes sense with all the time they spend in school and training, doesn’t it? However, we must keep in mind that we are all made up of all four personality types, and physicians are also high in one of the emotional personalities, and that is the Nurturing type. This is likely what led them into healthcare. Nurses are very high in the Nurturing component of their personality. This makes them excellent at bedside care.


Now, these observations are based upon actual personality coding of actual healthcare workers. They are generalizations, and not all doctors, nurses or administrators are going to test out exactly into these personality codes. However, these generalizations will assist you in understanding the values of the person to whom you are speaking. “Know your audience,” right? That’s an extremely valuable piece of advice no matter who you are.


Knowing that administrators are high in Blueprint personality tells us that they value such things as stability, structure, systems, planning, responsibility, rules, credentials, and titles. There are a few more of their core values, but it’s more important to know that they despise risk. They are incredibly risk adverse. If you, as a physician or nurse, are going to talk to them about a new piece of equipment you need, what are your hurdles?

1.    You need to justify the expenditure and demonstrate how this equipment fits into the overall plan for the structure of the organization over the next 2-5 years.

2.    Show the predictability of this product over its competitors.

3.    Convince them that this proposal is low risk. It’s going to be less risky to buy this than to not buy it.


Follow this same process with any new policy you want, or new personnel, a training that you need, or setting boundaries. Come in with visual aids. They like to have everything written out in bullet point form with all the numbers. Put it all in a nice folder. It makes them happy. Personally, my personality sees no point in this, except that it gets the job done faster and I’m out of that office more quickly. So, I’ll do it.


Blueprint: Administrator. Hates risk. Likes bullet points. Wants it all predictable. Learn to speak their language and you’ll accomplish more.

Nanette Nuessle