unhelpful supervisor

  1. How do I deal with a sarcastic supervisor?
    I took a temporary Head Nurse position and when I asked for help, needed to know about care plans,the supervisor said you should know this,you wanted to be HN.
    Once I pointed out to her that it was an infection control issue that she was eating her lunch at the computer she said I should shut my mouth.
    I will be needing her assistance next week and Id like to know how to respond to her when she lips off.
    Should I tell her that her comments are unprofessional?
    should I ignore her comments?
    should I lip off back?,
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   live4today
    OHBET,

    You need to call a meeting of the minds in a private place with your supervisor. You are both nurses which gives you equal footing when needing to gain support from one another. If she isn't giving you that support, she needs to be called on the carpet for it, and soon. Be assertive in your approach without coming across aggressive. When people feel like they are being put on the defensive, their claws and fangs come out for the moment they can attack back. During your private time with the supervisor, let her know that her manner is unprofessional which benefits neither you nor her or anyone else she's around, that the two of you showing a professional and caring approach with one another would go a long way in being a good team player, especially in front of your staff. Lipping off at her is showing aggression, not professional assertiveness. Ignoring her comments gets you no where, only further in her mood of harassing you because you let her do it once, she'll do it again. Do keep us posted on the outcome.
  4. by   RoaminHankRN
    Was it that time of month for her? As a nursing supervisor, I would also recommend you chat with her sometime. If during this chat she stills gives you attitude, I would tell her you will talk to her boss. And I would. Whether she has been a supervisor for 1 day or 10 years, her behavior is not cool. We need to work together. Sure it gets frustrating on both sides. Bottom line, she is out of line. Good luck and do keep us informed.
    Hank
  5. by   ohbet
    Thnanks for the advice Renee and Roamin. I feel more confident and am ready to talk with her.
  6. by   RNPD
    Hank-I recommend that you don't make that obnoxious reply in the actual presence of a woman unless you would like to answer to the EEOC. Some people just don't seem to get it, but if you make remarks based on gender, you are sure to be found offensive by someone. As a supervisor you should know that, and what's more, since you are in a position of some power, your remarks could take on the implication of harrassment, or give you a rep for taking a woman's remarks less seriously than a man's, basd on your perception of "weakness" secondary to a normal female function.

    If you addressed that remark to me, I'd demand an apology. And no, it is NOT "that time of the month". Bottom line? YOU were out of line.
  7. by   plumrn
    RNPD, I knew someone would question Hanks choice of words for that remark! I'm sure you did him a big favor today.
  8. by   Kasey
    I'm sure Hank was just stating an "old phrase" and did not mean anything by it. Sometimes among friends it's hard to remember to scrutinize everything you say to be "politically correct".
  9. by   RNPD
    Well Kasey, Hank wasn't only among "friends" here, and the point I made was that he better be careful not to use the phrase in the ACTUAL presence of women. We need to scrutinize whatever we say in public, and the best way to avoid making a mistake, is to eliminate that kind of talk & thinking from our everyday conversations, so we aren't tripped up when it could hurt us. There are a lot of "old phrases" that just don't work in oublic and most men wouldn't think of using a derogatory racial term here, but think nothing of using one pertaining to gender. And as plumrn said, if I did him the favor of saving him a lawsuit, he would do well to listen to what i said in cyberspace before it becomes an issue in the real world that could do serious damage to his career & his life. If my supervisor said such a thing in my presence, I would demand a public apology, and would have no problem making a report to the company EEOC if one was not forthcoming. In fact, I once threatened to do just that, but got my apology PDQ and now he & I "understand" each other.
  10. by   RoaminHankRN
    I could get really nasty in my response, but I'll play nice...kind of.

    First, I don't consider it a weakness for a woman when she has her period. Many (not ALL) women have mood swings during "that time of month." If we know someone has a "bad time", we can have a little more patience and understanding. Heck, my wife gets that way. And during that time, I need to be a little more understanding of her needs because of what she can't control. Do we need to know if the supervisor is going through this? Of course not. We can be professional in how we deal with people. The supervisor was acting inappropriate by telling the staff to shut up. (hmm.. ok to tell someone to shut up? What are you feeling on that RNPD?) But Ohbet, being better than crabby supervisor, will be the better person in the long run and have a better case if she needs to go higher in the chain of command.

    Second, we are amongst "friends" here. Maybe not friends in the sense of the real world, but online we are here to offer help and advice. In the "online" world, we can and should let our hair down. There will be people who are offended and others who will see it for what it is. RNPD, to you I apologize if my comments offended you. But I have been doing nursing long enough to know right from wrong in the "hospital" In the real world, there are people who look for any opportunity to play the sexual harassment card. It should be played when appropriate, not any and everything that is said or done. Certainly not with a phrase like, "it's that time of month"

    Third.. when you mention, "We need to scrutinize whatever we say in public,..." that is a bad idea. One word comes to mind.. dictatorship. Not what this country was built on.

    Finally, not spelling correctly is a weakness. A spell checker works nice.

    So, Ohbet, I am not suggesting you ask if it was that time of month for this supervisor. No one in his or her right mind would say it to someone. (not even yours truly!) Interesting RNPD, what are you feelings about what I suggested to Ohbet? What were your suggestions for Ohbet, or were you contempt in trying to save me from a lawsuit?

    Looking forward to your reply!

    Hank
  11. by   CEN35
    ok first......always ignore the fact, that a person is a female, male and/or minority.
    second, if there is a problem, or the person is inappropriate, document the facts, not your perception.
    third save the facts........let this person build up a good amount of inappropriate factual crap.
    then if you need to say a few things (one on one), go to it.....start out as professional......and try it that way. remember without a wittness, it's their word against yours. one on one is excellent for a first time talk, ecspecially if they need a little rebuttle at their level. then if they persist to lip off or be inappropriate, let them know about the documented facts, from the past. see if that changes their tune? if not you can say whatever you need to at that time, regardless of content.
    then let this person know, it won't be tolerated.
    ask them if they would like to discuss it further in the presence of another supervisor or manager. that usually will put an end too it. ecspecially if somebody else wittnesses the incident.

    bottom line? some people will back down if confronted. if they don't back down and you have to go about it the "proper way", remember one thing. all administration/hr or anyone in the system involved in theses types of issues wants, is facts and proof.
    so before you go to far and stir the pot, get what you need. once th pot is stirred, you may never be able to get anything substantial out of it to help your cause.

    me
    Last edit by CEN35 on Feb 13, '02
  12. by   thisnurse
    i think men have a "time of month" too, minus the blood. im pretty sure my fiancee is having his now.
  13. by   RNPD
    Hank-

    -I never said menstruation is a "weakness", but I felt that your remark implied that you think it. Maybe you get cranky when your wife says "no" the night before, but if I say "he probably didn't get any last night" I would be inappropriate.

    -Obviously ohbet's supervisor was inappropriate. Ohbet knew that, had received advice from Renee & yourself, and stated she was confident & ready to speak with her supervisor as advised. To add more of the same would have been redundant, and I had no further or better advice to offer.

    -You are not MY "friend". I never interacted with you and I found your remark offensive. Harrassment is what the person sees it to be. In other words, it is not about YOU, but about the person feeling harrassed. If you make a remark that you feel is "true" based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc, it doesn't matter if it's "true" if someone finds it offensive. And I found your remark offensive.

    -Like it or not, we live in a litigious society. We also live in a society where women are demanding equality and remarks made on the basis of gender serve to demean and belittle women, however subtly. As CEN so aptly put it, "-OK first......always ignore the fact, that a person is a female, male and/or minority."

    -I understand that you didn't advise ohbet to make the remark TO the supervisor. No, no one in their right mind would do that. However, it is just as bad to make the remark ABOUT someone, in the 3rd person. It may get back to that person, or may offend the person hearing it. And if it is a supervisor making the remark, it may make the person uncomfortable to protest or disagree, for fear of repercussion. THAT is where the harrassment issue comes in.

    -My spelling is not the problem, my typing is. You can be sure I use spell check where it counts. BTW, did you mean to spell the word "content" as "contempt", or was it that you realized my feelings for your remark?
    Last edit by RNPD on Feb 13, '02
  14. by   RoaminHankRN
    "I never said menstruation is a "weakness", but I felt that your remark implied that you think it. Maybe you get cranky when your wife says "no" the night before, but if I say "he probably didn't get any last night" I would be inappropriate. "

    RNPD, you were wrong on two points. First, what you felt I implied as I have already explained my feelings. Second, if you made the comment that I did not get any the night before. That would not be inappropriate at ALL!! Men and women get "cranky." Let's call it for what it is. To say I was that way because I am black, female, or catholic, that is a no-no. But to say someone is that way because of a mood, COME ON! Your moody, I'm moody, we all are. That is what happens when you make a judgement. Find out some facts before speaking. We both have our opinions and have spoken our peace. It does not sound like one will convince the other. I won't waste any more of our time on this matter. But I have one question. If a male coworker told you that you looked nice today or that the dress you were wearing looked nice, what would be your reaction?

    Thisnurse, I agree with you! Most men (including me) have the same weakness. Funny, I did not find anything offensive or harassing in your statement.

    Lost in all this is Ohbet... How have things turned out? Was it that time of month for her

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