Is your colleague a mind reader? Or just plain lazy
We have high expectations of our coworkers, but are our expectations realistic and have a sound basis? I find that although we have a lot of expectations of those around us, most of us do not know that others have these expectations.
Everybody around me at work reacts to situations by becoming angry, retaliatory, vindictive and mean. Nobody I work with and I mean nobody I work with looks at the whole picture with their work colleague they automatically presume that their co-worker is out to get them!
I cannot count how many times over the past three years that one of my employees has accused their colleague of being lazy, not helping them and has watched them struggle with a heavy work load. Now while there are minorities that do fit into this category but there are a lot of RN's who aren't lazy and will go above and beyond to support their coworker.
When I question the accuser if they asked their colleague to help them, 9 times out of 10 they say no, that the RN or Aid should just know that they are struggling. Now call me strange but how on earth does somebody really know their co-worker is struggling unless they tell them. Unless my co-workers are mind readers! How can they possibly know that somebody needs help?
I advise the accuser that in the future they should ask for help, and if the help is not forthcoming then first ascertain that the person they are asking is not run off their feet themselves and cannot help or they just don't want to help out. If at that time they feel that the person is deliberately unwilling to help them out then I will step into the picture and investigate.
What I cannot do is put another RN on trial for not helping out when nobody bothered to ask this person for help. I often hear during these conversations that now they didn't receive help that they will not help anybody else in the future. My response to this statement is 'well then you are part of the problem' which gets them thinking! It is a vicious circle if they won't help me, then I won't help them, and one of them will visit me to tale tattle on the other.
I can honestly hold my hand on my heart and tell you all that there is not one person in my unit who is beyond reproach. Every single member of staff without exception has been in my office to complain about somebody else. Every single member of staff has been accused of something by somebody else.
If I reacted to every single thing I am told, I would spend my whole day every day placing somebody into discipline. There has not been a day in the past few years that a complaint has been made about another member of staff, and do you know if you get both people in a room and ask them to tell you what happened there are two different stories, two different perspectives and one solution! Normally they end up with an understanding of what went wrong and wounded souls are repaired.
Not one member of staff has a hidden agenda, they want to do a good job and succeed. I work with a fantastic group of people, each and every member of staff is valuable and has a lot to offer.
My job now is to support them, educate them, improve their team working skills and help them have a happy work life. I believe by giving them the tools and support they can become the best. I know that we all have to work on communication skills!
Remember before you run to your manager; ask yourselves 'are you part of the problem?' Did you ask for help? Or do you think your coworker is a mind reader and just knows you are struggling? If they refused to help you, was it because they are struggling themselves, or was it really because they are being downright mean!
Also what is your objective to taking your complaint to your manager, do you want them to react or do you just want to vent?Last edit by Joe V on Jan 19, '13
About madwife2002, BSN, RN
Joined: Jan '05; Posts: 10,272; Likes: 6,113
Director of Nursing Services; from US
26 year(s) of experience in RN, BSN, CHDNJan 19, '13I agree totally with your sentiments. In the past I have flat-out told people, "I do not have a crystal ball to read your mind. Speak now or forever hold your piece!"
Many coworkers are all too quick to skip the chain of command. They come running to the manager whenever a perceived conflict arises instead of having the maturity level to attempt to resolve it with their coworker.Jan 19, '13I think you should make any employee that complains to you about an interpersonal conflict should take a course on strategies to deal with these types of conflicts. I would find several courses that I find are good and have the reference there for them with a time frame for them to complete. Not only are they very helpful I just bet you would have a lot less complaints as they learn the new skills.Jan 19, '13I agree that asking for help, is the best way to get a co-worker who doesn't WANT to help, to help However, if you can't tell by looking your co-worker is drowning, your assessment skills need honing.Jan 19, '13If one nurse is sitting down doing nothing and the other is running around like a fool, I don't think you need
to be a mind reader to see that they are busy and could probably use some help.Jan 19, '13It sometimes seems though that it is always the same nurse or two that always is running around asking for help. I personally get tired of constantly having to help that nurse complete her work when I have the same amount or more work to do on my patients. I seem to be able to do my work why can't they,. And at that point why should I help them anymore. It just enables the bad work habits.Jan 19, '13Quote from KyrshamarksI was just about to say this. Also there is the nurse who constantly runs around like a chicken with her head cut off, and when offered help she refuses. She then proceeds to tell everyone that no one would help her at all.It sometimes seems though that it is always the same nurse or two that always is running around asking for help. I personally get tired of constantly having to help that nurse complete her work when I have the same amount or more work to do on my patients. I seem to be able to do my work why can't they,. And at that point why should I help them anymore. It just enables the bad work habits.Jan 19, '13my one nursing instructor (who has in the past managed an ICU and also the entire trauma department) has a rule - if a person comes in to complain about something that person has to have 2 solutions to said issue...as for the solutions she has 3 rules...can't be illegal, can't be immoral and can't bust the budget...she found that the department ran much smoother, and she had really good employees when she imparted these rules...Jan 19, '13Quote from KyrshamarksYou should help because it's not about how you work or how they work, it's about moving your patient forward on the timeline to recovery. Your patient is whoever you are able to help while you are working, not necessarily just who you are assigned to. Nurses are still the most trusted professionals ... the "not my patient, not my job" undermines that trust. Recognize the need for help, help the other nurse for the sake of the patient and then, after the work is done pull the other nurse aside and help them get better so their won't be a next time.And at that point why should I help them anymore. It just enables the bad work habits.Jan 20, '13Quote from jtwilburtAfter doing this job for 27 years, you sill learn things are really diiferent than you originally thought....You should help because it's not about how you work or how they work, it's about moving your patient forward on the timeline to recovery. Your patient is whoever you are able to help while you are working, not necessarily just who you are assigned to. Nurses are still the most trusted professionals ... the "not my patient, not my job" undermines that trust. Recognize the need for help, help the other nurse for the sake of the patient and then, after the work is done pull the other nurse aside and help them get better so their won't be a next time.Jan 20, '13No matter what the problem is, nurses should help each other unless you feel you're being taken advantage of.Last edit by nurse4sale on Jan 20, '13Jan 20, '13Fear! From my experience, asking for help is usually time consuming in itself. Finding someone that is not as busy as you is usually the case. I was accused by a nursing assistant that I was dumping when I asked him to do something for me once. He was a gossip and trouble maker. I would find him talking in rooms with another employee far from his post. I use to ask myself how could a staff member such as this possibly think I was dumping when I had no break. I would find my patients personal needs not met and do them myself. After calculating the time a patient sits in their own feces, the time it takes to get assistance, and the time difference when I waited, I saw no hope. Many of these problems can be solved with proper management. Someone has to take the bull by the horn. Nurses on the floor have no time for such nonsense. A good supervisor will address it in meetings and get out on the floor and observe. A little team work would help too. Set an example!
People that are complaining constantly? Your solution is you. As a manger, you should know the pace of your unit and its challenges. Facilitating a teamwork atmosphere and try facilitating an atmosphere of compassion for each of your employees for each other. This is a key role of all nurses. Without it, our care is cold and the attitude of the unit rubs off on the patients.
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