Toxic Workplace: have the rose colored glasses fallen off?

  1. I've been working my first RN job for 14 months now. I'm on a med-surg floor in a large magnet hospital and for the most part, I've been loving it! I like most of my coworkers, I love my patients, and I'm motivated to be the best nurse I can be. I've gotten positive feedback from patients and families on comment cards, I've have interdisciplinary staff (social workers, residents) recognize and thank me. It's honestly been really rewarding and empowering. But in the last two months or so, I've been noticing some bad vibes..

    For example, my ANM has been nothing but condescending to me lately, even in front of my peers. For example, one day I was eating my lunch and the ANM stops in and says "lelms, have you sat down and talked to your patients today?" "Yes, I have." "You better have." And walks away. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe he was having a bad day or they're getting grief from upper management. The only thing is he remains passive aggressive to the point I feel targeted.

    This all seemed to have come out of nowhere. I'm starting to feel paranoid and I have anxiety just thinking about going into work. Whenever I'm berated by my ANM I hold back tears the rest of my shift. I scarf down my lunch in the locker room so no one can accuse me of having too much "down time". My schedule seems rougher than usual, I rotate nights/days every other week and sometimes only have one day off to switch. I know my attitude is shifting to be more cynical, but I try to hold it in for fear of being labeled a "bad attitude". My family notices a change in me.

    I've emailed my NM about possibly changing my schedule in the future so I don't rotate as often, and made a suggestion to possibly work day/evenings or straight nights. She simply responded with a " ". Like WHAT does that even MEAN?! I'm considering sitting down with my ANM so we can talk about the vibes I've been getting but I'm scared it will blow up in my face. I'm so confused because I was content a few months ago, now I'm working on an exit plan. Could this be my imagination or me overreacting? Should I approach someone about this or just leave?
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  2. Visit lelms profile page

    About lelms, BSN, RN

    Joined: Jun '16; Posts: 11; Likes: 14
    from OH
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience

    15 Comments

  3. by   Ruby Vee
    You like the job -- or did up until recently -- so it makes sense to sit down with someone and discuss it. You could sit down with your ANM and ask directly if he has a problem with your work. Or you can talk to your manager. But just leaving a job that you like because of one person seems like you're giving that one person an awful lot of power. I'd try to have the talk first. If it doesn't go well, you can still leave, but perhaps it WILL go well.
  4. by   lelms
    You make a good point. Talking things out would at least give me closure on whats going through his head. And if it goes poorly, I'll know leaving is the right call.
  5. by   wondern
    "You better have." or else what??? Sounds like a threat.

    Too bad that 'one person' is a manager with powers to write you up for whatever they want. If they can't find any work errors they'll create a hostile environment then call you rude for defending yourself.

    It's a trap. I'd start looking for a place without such a aszhat for a manager. The second that write up BS starts, just split or sooner!

    Your ANM sounds like a real jerk! Sorry for the abuse you are taking from this jerk!
  6. by   Libby1987
    Just a thought, and not excusing your NM's communication style.. When a new nurse or employee starts out, they can be a star for that point in their orientation but when they don't advance as expected, what was once viewed as exceeding expectations may no longer meet expectations. At least by someone's appraisal.

    If I were to have a conversation with the intention of making this job stick (which I would think you would want considering everything that is good about it) my first question would be, "Am I meeting expectations and making the progress you expected at this point in time?"

    Ask this with sincerity and confidence but no defensiveness and then sit and wait for his answer. This will take all of the hostility out of his sails while he contemplates why he didn't initiate this conversation himself.

    After his response, ask to lay out the expectations and for his input on how to meet them.

    That's how to both communicate with a successful outcome, whatever that might be, and how to teach a manager how to treat you. Regardless of outcome, it's great practice.
    Last edit by Libby1987 on Dec 9, '17
  7. by   JKL33
    I think this is how you should handle it. ^ Because ultimately that's what you need to know.

    Now...I suspect....just thinking out loud - 14 months is plenty of time for ANM to see you for the danger you are. I'm speaking of jealousy, etc. If he had anything to actually write up, he would've done that rather than this oh-so-feeble attempt at mind games.

    If you sense anything like this, it becomes all the more important to not "fall for it." Be professional at all times. I suspect when you meet with him you will only receive positive feedback because these types are cowards. After you meet, you can take some time to think about what to do next, including the possibilty of deciding to pay no attention to him.

    Good luck!
  8. by   TriciaJ
    I've always said the best way to respond to criticism is to ask for more information. That way, if it's valid, you can learn from it. If someone's just power-tripping, they've now been put on the spot.

    Great advice from Ruby and Libby. Sit down with you ANM and ask if you're meeting all expectations. You can mention phrases like "You better have." and tell him you got the impression that you weren't doing something properly but didn't know what. Tell him that you want to excel in that workplace and you are receptive to feedback.

    He'll either realize that he sucks at providing useful feedback or that you aren't going to be a willing target when he's having a bad day.
  9. by   hurricanekat
    I would like to add to view things from his side of the fence. Is something going on in his life to make him different? Its Christmas - is he single, is he in a bad relationship, does he have a sick parent / child / significant other. Christmas time does weird things to people. Maybe he feels he can be a little more casual with you and this is his version of "small talk" but it comes off wrong because he doesn't have great social skills. You may not know the answer to any of these, but its just something to think about when you do have talk with him or let your brain wander further in that direction. You may be reading more into it than he ever meant.
  10. by   Roy Hanson
    the honeymoom is over, now to work at the marriage of you and your job. If things appear to have changed, maybe they have..ASK!! Get your boss lady and ask if she IS satisfied with your job performance. IF you are that sensitive, sounds like you are a rookie, you will have to learn. NOW put down the cell phone and work.
  11. by   Apple-Core
    I'm always in support of direct action. Go straight to the source, and with a well thought out plan of action...calm, polite, but firm and direct. Don't get rattled, don't allow yourself to get rude or sharp.....just be direct and open to feedback. I usually throw in something positive such as, "I've always enjoyed working with you...", or, "I respect your opinion..."

    I've been where you are and it sucks.
  12. by   lelms
    I know this post is old, but I just wanted to provide an update in case anyone from the future is reading. I decided to keep my head down and see if the attitude would pass since it was close to the holidays. In the meantime I focused on being professional and keeping a positive attitude at work. I had a review with my NM and she said I was meeting expectations, staff liked working with me, and patients were saying good things about me. Great, right?!

    Well fast forward to two weeks later, I was presenting a poster presentation on assistive devices to prevent injury as part of my new nurse residency "graduation". My NM showed up and absolutely tore it apart. I answered her questions and rebuttals, showing her my evidenced based research. She bullied me into the ground. The back and fourth was in front of my cohorts and other NMs. She constantly interrupted me and made every effort to find something to argue about. It was totally unnecessary and from what I could gather, was a full-blown power trip. I could not believe I was experiencing such treatment so publicly. It took a lot of effort to keep my cool, but it was in that moment I knew I had to leave. Despite liking my job, I could not work under someone who treated another person like that.

    I chose to go forward to persue a long time interest in OR nursing, and will be transferring in April! My recruiter told me my manager gave me a satisfactory reference (internal transfer), despite her trying to convince them to not hire me because they would be "short-staffed". Yeah, bye!

    In hindsight, if anyone is in a similar predicament, I'd say go with your gut. If you get a bad vibe, there's likely something wrong. Clear communication and respect should be expected no matter the circumstances. Mind games and power-tripping should not happen, especially by management. Your health and happiness is worth way more than that. ✌️
  13. by   bellini
    Quote from lelms
    I know this post is old, but I just wanted to provide an update in case anyone from the future is reading. I decided to keep my head down and see if the attitude would pass since it was close to the holidays. In the meantime I focused on being professional and keeping a positive attitude at work. I had a review with my NM and she said I was meeting expectations, staff liked working with me, and patients were saying good things about me. Great, right?!

    Well fast forward to two weeks later, I was presenting a poster presentation on assistive devices to prevent injury as part of my new nurse residency "graduation". My NM showed up and absolutely tore it apart. I answered her questions and rebuttals, showing her my evidenced based research. She bullied me into the ground. The back and fourth was in front of my cohorts and other NMs. She constantly interrupted me and made every effort to find something to argue about. It was totally unnecessary and from what I could gather, was a full-blown power trip. I could not believe I was experiencing such treatment so publicly. It took a lot of effort to keep my cool, but it was in that moment I knew I had to leave. Despite liking my job, I could not work under someone who treated another person like that.

    I chose to go forward to persue a long time interest in OR nursing, and will be transferring in April! My recruiter told me my manager gave me a satisfactory reference (internal transfer), despite her trying to convince them to not hire me because they would be "short-staffed". Yeah, bye! ������

    In hindsight, if anyone is in a similar predicament, I'd say go with your gut. If you get a bad vibe, there's likely something wrong. Clear communication and respect should be expected no matter the circumstances. Mind games and power-tripping should not happen, especially by management. Your health and happiness is worth way more than that. ✌️
    You handled this bad situation with professionalism. I admire you.
  14. by   JKL33
    Quote from lelms
    In hindsight, if anyone is in a similar predicament, I'd say go with your gut. If you get a bad vibe, there's likely something wrong. Clear communication and respect should be expected no matter the circumstances. Mind games and power-tripping should not happen, especially by management. Your health and happiness is worth way more than that. ✌️
    Good for you! I hope you enjoy your new area.

    Work smart - and that includes being aware of your surroundings and taking good stock of others and their intentions. Be pleasant, kind, helpful, take excellent care of patients, and beyond that stay under the radar where you can observe for awhile.

    Best of luck ~

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