Do You Have a Toxic Boss? (eyeroll)

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    Most of us have experienced good  and bad managers, whether that was at a fast food restaurant, retail,  or in our present jobs as nurses.  I know that in my own experience,  the managers who were difficult to work for did not foster warm fuzzy feelings amongst the workers.  In fact, there was often a lot of dissatisfaction and frustration that led to a high turn-over.  What is one to do?

    Do You Have a Toxic Boss? (eyeroll)

    We all have had moments when we have been in charge of a group of people, so we understand how difficult it can be to try and accomplish what needs to be done and keep everyone calm and cooperative. We already realize that making everyone happy is impossible, so let’s rest in knowing that. This article is not being written to bash anyone, but to help those who do have a toxic manager recognize the qualities that go into such a person, and hopefully find some safe and healthy ways to deal with the situation.
    There are many unhealthy qualities that can be embedded in a nurse manager’s personality making them toxic for their units. Because of this, they often have trouble keeping staff, morale is low, and job stress is elevated beyond reasonable levels. Staff may begin to call off more to avoid the bad atmosphere created by the toxic manager. Often times a culture is created within a department that is detrimental but is considered “the way it is,” and therefore nothing is done. Hopefully we can find some solutions that will make daily work life less stressful.

    In the article “Recognizing and Overcoming Toxic Leadership,” by George A. Zangara, PhD, et. al., it is revealed that research shows a correlation between job satisfaction and competent leadership. They also tout interrelationships between the desire to stay in the job and level of commitment to the job in relation to management. Clearly, people rely on managers to do their job with professionalism, fairness, and maturity so they feel safe in their job and in return will be bent on doing a good job.

    If a manager advocates only their own agenda without allowing for input, creativity will be stunted and the work environment turns unhealthy. Managers who do their best to preserve their own reputation will lose the respect of those working for them. Trust is degraded. Attitudes become negative towards the manager and the result is a toxic working relationship creating a divide that sometimes cannot be repair. At times, It is not easy to articulate what defines a bad manager and at the same time, feelings of how that person makes us feel can be hard to define.

    “The manager who bullies, threatens, yells. The manager whose mood swings determine the climate of the office on any given work day. Who forces employees to whisper in sympathy in cubicles and hallways. Call it what you want - poor interpersonal skills, unfortunate office practices - but some people, by sheer, shameful force of their personalities, making working for them rotten,” (Zangaro).

    Managers who suppress creativity lead their staff to feel as if their opinion does not count. These managers often withhold information and are very secretive, controlling the narrative of the workplace and as a result, eliminate autonomy. Respect is not often showed to their employees and is replaced with condescension.

    For me, the most annoying quality of a toxic manager is emotional immaturity - one who is emotionally immature. When one can’t manage their personal life and decisions, and emotions -- that person should not be in a management position. They cannot separate work and home life and therefore one spills into the other. For some reason, in the medical profession, these people are tolerated. According to the article, “Stop Tolerating Bad Managers,” by Rebecca Hendren, bullying and bad behavior is more tolerated within the management than among staff nurses. The culture of healthcare is at fault for allowing this.
    Non verbal cues are used more often than verbal to bully others. One can sigh, eye-roll, or ignore someone instead of using words to respond to something or someone. This can be just as damaging as yelling at someone.

    Nursing executive managers can be part of the solution to toxic managers. They can look at turnover rate, observe behavior, and offer mentorship to help learn new behavior techniques.

    What can staff nurses do when they work under one of these toxic managers? One of the most important things to do is do not respond on their immature level. Stay professional and preserve self respect. Approach upper management for help if able, and always confront the toxic manager with a witness so that you have someone to hopefully be the mediator or your back up. Although it is trying and exhausting dealing on a daily basis with these managers, try and stay positive.

    One thing that I do is remember that my patients come first. So that means I have to set aside my personal feelings and do my job to the best of my ability. I eat properly and exercise on a regular basis to keep my body healthy and reduce stress and frustration. Stress can cause damage to our bodies, so reducing stress levels as much as we can under our power helps prevent ulcers, anxiety, headaches, and depression.

    We all bring something different to the table. Contrasting core values, cultures, and thought processes can create conflict within a group, or they can help us learn and grow. Being organized, flexible, conflict resolver, timely, honest, and a good communicator are the coveted qualities of a good manager.

    Recognizing our own faults is a mature way to help decrease stress in our workplace. Stepping back and taking a breath before reacting to a situation will decrease not only our stress but help us respond better to a situation. What are some ways that you have dealt with a bad manager and what was the result?

    References

    Healthfield, Susan M. “Bad to the Bone: Dealing With a Bad Boss.” 2 April, 2017. TheBalance.” 4 Aug., 2017. Web.

    Hendren, Rebecca. “Stop Tolerating Bad Managers.” 11 Oct. 2011. HealthLeadersMedia. 4 Aug., 2017. Web.

    Zangaro, George A. PhD, RN, et. al. “Recognizing and Overcoming Toxic Leadership.” nd. RNJOURNAL. 4 Aug., 2107. Web.
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    Brenda F. Johnson has '23+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Gastrointestinal Nursing'. From 'Ooltewah, Tn'; Joined Oct '14; Posts: 184; Likes: 618.

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    16 Comments

  3. by   Julie Carr
    Being Bulliyed is horrific. It happened to me and I was shocked that this could happen in nursing. I would be driving to work and the stomach pains would start then the headaches. There is nothing worse then being afraid to ask a question because when you do the eyes roll you get a huff and sometimes a commenr under the breath. We are nurses we take care of people and there is always something new to learn or re learn. The old saying nurses eat there young well with me I think it was nurses eat the older nurse. I was one of the lucky ones and left and found a good place with caring nurses.
  4. by   ppfd
    Not so much my boss. I work with toxic A>> holes everyday.

    I dealt with bullies as a kid. As an adult not so much.

    I need to keep in mind I am single no kids and can go and do whatever I want.

    Job makes you miserable, quit.
  5. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    Certain work environments create toxic managers. Rewarding austerity, no matter how it's achieved, tends to empower bullying managers. Promoting people who are power-hungry is easy to do. It's also really easy in a megalithic and out-of-touch organization for people who don't want to get their hands dirty to make that climb. More than one of the managers I've worked with has been more interested in socializing, surfing the web and ordering others around than they were in ensuring each patient received the care they required from the person most appropriate to provide that care. The ones who challenge the status quo are slapped down publicly. It's a bit of a lose-lose for those types of manager so they gradually become more like their bosses than they ever wanted to be. My old strategy was to keep my head down, my nose clean and just do my job. As I get closer to retirement, I find I'm less content with that path and have started pointing out things that aren't right. I may never succeed at improving how our unit is managed, but I'm going to try.
  6. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Quote from NotReady4PrimeTime
    Certain work environments create toxic managers. Rewarding austerity, no matter how it's achieved, tends to empower bullying managers. Promoting people who are power-hungry is easy to do. It's also really easy in a megalithic and out-of-touch organization for people who don't want to get their hands dirty to make that climb. More than one of the managers I've worked with has been more interested in socializing, surfing the web and ordering others around than they were in ensuring each patient received the care they required from the person most appropriate to provide that care. The ones who challenge the status quo are slapped down publicly. It's a bit of a lose-lose for those types of manager so they gradually become more like their bosses than they ever wanted to be. My old strategy was to keep my head down, my nose clean and just do my job. As I get closer to retirement, I find I'm less content with that path and have started pointing out things that aren't right. I may never succeed at improving how our unit is managed, but I'm going to try.
    I can relate to your post so much, believe me!
  7. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Quote from Julie Carr
    Being Bulliyed is horrific. It happened to me and I was shocked that this could happen in nursing. I would be driving to work and the stomach pains would start then the headaches. There is nothing worse then being afraid to ask a question because when you do the eyes roll you get a huff and sometimes a commenr under the breath. We are nurses we take care of people and there is always something new to learn or re learn. The old saying nurses eat there young well with me I think it was nurses eat the older nurse. I was one of the lucky ones and left and found a good place with caring nurses.
    It is such a tough situation, isn't it?
  8. by   DestiNova
    Hum... sociopath? narcissist? or perhaps reptilian/demon. A close family member I call a living demon or a narcissist, yet as I dig deeper into psychology the alien agenda appears. Apparently the leaders are reptilians/demons, we can't see them in their true form because we can only see a lower light level. Is this why the bully boy I'm referring to said "I know what I can do when I die?"..... If a person is from one of the main stream religions, then what I am writing is of no use to them. Yet... you know how when we see a ghost, its only usually a white or dark fog/mist... this may be because of the limited light form we operate in... just saying.. other than that... a main stream religious person has an advantage over a normal person. I know because my friend and I went to a main stream church on Tuesday night (name of church withheld over respect) and you wouldn't believe what we saw. We got kicked out and escaped out the side door running to the car and locking our door. Yet the toxic boss is a piece of cake for this congregation, and with very successful career outcomes. The advice in this article is "spot-on." Thank you : )
  9. by   Knotanoonurse
    I worked for a narcissist. If you had a great idea, she thought of it and would tell others how she "decided" xyz would be the best approach. No credit to anyone other than her! Everyone but her was doing things the wrong way.

    She was such a hero too. She went on "missions" to the Third World and had us saving supplies she never took with her! She made up a special"test" for the staff because we were so incompetent! When one of my coworkers "googled" a confusing phrase, they found the "test" she had designed was in fact several years old and from a community college on the West Coast! Hmmm? What a coincidence!

    She had an "article" published on a nursing organisation' website. The subject of the article was work relationships. She used the real first names of the ****** Baby Boomer and the lazy Millennial. This was a staff of about 30 people in a small town hospital. Don't worry the name of our facility was in her little bio attached to the article!

    She is a narcissist of epoch proportions and clueless as to why anyone might not go along with her very clever innovative leadership! She was truly a transformational leader. Just ask her. There was NOTHING she enjoyed more than talking about herself.

    She is as always top dog! If someone had been a flight nurse, she have told them she was a nurse on the space shuttle. I am amazed how many people could not see through her! People like her should hand out free vomit bags when they enter the room!
    Last edit by sirI on Aug 28
  10. by   Truth66
    I've also worked with a wide range of different Nurse Managers. One manager in particular was great at motivating her staff. In fact if it weren't for her I would never had gone back to school to become a Forensic Nurse.

    On the flip side, we experienced two managers in particular who I would describe as nothing more than terrorists.

    The conduct of these two managers were so toxic that it literally border lined on criminal activity. On one occasion I was discipline for holding a medication that had I given it to the clients at bedtime on empty stomachs would have increased the potential for vomiting and aspiration. While being disciplined I was ordered to give the medication if the situation arouse again.

    Many nurses are ordered by their toxic nurse managers to do things that would seriously jeopardize the safety of their clients. I know that we tried several times to hold these managers accountable, but our pathetic excuse for a labor organization would never pursue anything.

    When doing research for a learning course that I was developing, I came across a legal case where a nurse manager was actually found guilty and sent to prison for her role in the wrongful death of an elderly woman. I literally cheered and quickly ordered an audio copy of that trial.
  11. by   Steffy44
    Thankfully I don't work in a bullying environment. However I work in a yes environment. Constantly agreeing with every additional nurse task and short staffed there is. Then expecting us to be Pollyanna positive and sell the hospital. We're dying on our floor and our bosses hop in the elevator at 3 waving and saying thanks for all you do. Now they are talking about bringing back team nursing. Bye Felicia. Most recent nursing survey asked if we'd recommend friends or family work there. Only 19% said yes. I'd love to know who these 19% are. 2 1/2 years and I'm almost completely burned out.
  12. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Quote from Knotanoonurse
    I worked for a narcissist. If you had a great idea, she thought of it and would tell others how she "decided" xyz would be the best approach. No credit to anyone other than her! Everyone but her was doing things the wrong way.

    She was such a hero too. She went on "missions" to the Third World and had us saving supplies she never took with her! She made up a special"test" for the staff because we were so incompetent! When one of my coworkers "googled" a confusing phrase, they found the "test" she had designed was in fact several years old and from a community college on the West Coast! Hmmm? What a coincidence!

    She had an "article" published on a nursing organisation' website. The subject of the article was work relationships. She used the real first names of the ****** Baby Boomer and the lazy Millennial. This was a staff of about 30 people in a small town hospital. Don't worry the name of our facility was in her little bio attached to the article!

    She is a narcissist of epoch proportions and clueless as to why anyone might not go along with her very clever innovative leadership! She was truly a transformational leader. Just ask her. There was NOTHING she enjoyed more than talking about herself.

    She is as always top dog! If someone had been a flight nurse, she have told them she was a nurse on the space shuttle. I am amazed how many people could not see through her! People like her should hand out free vomit bags when they enter the room!
    Although I know you were serious, I enjoyed your comment. It made me smile. How do people keep that level of ******** up, I would be exhausted!
  13. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Quote from Truth66
    I've also worked with a wide range of different Nurse Managers. One manager in particular was great at motivating her staff. In fact if it weren't for her I would never had gone back to school to become a Forensic Nurse.

    On the flip side, we experienced two managers in particular who I would describe as nothing more than terrorists.

    The conduct of these two managers were so toxic that it literally border lined on criminal activity. On one occasion I was discipline for holding a medication that had I given it to the clients at bedtime on empty stomachs would have increased the potential for vomiting and aspiration. While being disciplined I was ordered to give the medication if the situation arouse again.

    Many nurses are ordered by their toxic nurse managers to do things that would seriously jeopardize the safety of their clients. I know that we tried several times to hold these managers accountable, but our pathetic excuse for a labor organization would never pursue anything.

    When doing research for a learning course that I was developing, I came across a legal case where a nurse manager was actually found guilty and sent to prison for her role in the wrongful death of an elderly woman. I literally cheered and quickly ordered an audio copy of that trial.
    Wow! That is crazy!
  14. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Quote from Steffy44
    Thankfully I don't work in a bullying environment. However I work in a yes environment. Constantly agreeing with every additional nurse task and short staffed there is. Then expecting us to be Pollyanna positive and sell the hospital. We're dying on our floor and our bosses hop in the elevator at 3 waving and saying thanks for all you do. Now they are talking about bringing back team nursing. Bye Felicia. Most recent nursing survey asked if we'd recommend friends or family work there. Only 19% said yes. I'd love to know who these 19% are. 2 1/2 years and I'm almost completely burned out.
    I see and hear of this happening all over. I understand your frustration!

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