Great Supervisor Vs. Not-So-Great Supervisor

  1. Okay, I HAVE to get this off my chest as I'm not ever going to say this to someone at work: I do not like one of my shift supervisors! We (my co-pm shift nurse and I) have a weekend supervisor and a weekday supervisor. Our weekend supervisor is super cool, laid back, friendly, and easygoing. Our weekday supervisor is uptight, rigid, disciplinary, and critical. Weekend boss is a woman, weekday boss is a man. I see weekday boss being super chummy with the other male nurse on my shift, but when it's me and my female co-nurse, weekday boss is not as involved in our station. Weekend boss seems to spend an equal amount of time on all 4 stations regardless of who is working that evening.

    I understand people have different personalities and whatnot and I really don't mind rigid, strict, exactly by the book style of management - rules are there for a reason with pt. well-being & safety being #1. But there's something about the weekday supervisor that just rubs me the wrong way! He seems to subtly condescend to me and it feels like sometimes he's trying to establish his "role" as my boss. I like my co-workers and even though I'm new, I already have a sense of belonging. And I really like my patients and try to be a really good nurse to them. And today I was there doing my thing, happily going along when I got reprimanded for something relatively minor.

    Here's the minor thing: I was doing my 5pm med pass. I got 2 bottles of meds out and set them on top of the med cart. I needed a 3rd med and for some reason our new pharmacy doesn't send a bottle of this med, it comes in individual little containers which are kept in our locked med room. I left my med cart with the 2 bottles on top to retrieve a container from the med room. And YES I know that's a no-no. But the hallway was clear of any patients and my cart was maybe 10 feet from the med room. I went and came back in a matter of seconds. And wouldn't you know it, weekday boss magically appeared out of nowhere and saw my "no-no". He reminded me that this is not state compliant and I replied, I know, I just needed a med from the med room really quick. He said "don't let it happen again" in some strange authoritative tone while crowding my med card so I couldn't resume my med pass. Maybe I was upset that I got "busted", maybe I just really don't like him and couldn't stand to be reprimanded by him.

    He does stuff like tell me something while walking by me (his voice is naturally quiet) and when I ask him to repeat what he said (politely of course), he looks at me like "how dare I ask him to repeat himself". He always insists that I carry a portable phone on my cart and pages me incessantly to let me know there's a phone call for my station. And the reason why I can't get to the phone is because I'm doing patient care (I'm not going to interrupt giving meds via g-tube to answer a phone call that isn't urgent). I've seen him cut corners and "sweep things under the rug", but when he catches me (or my other female co-nurse), we get lectured and scolded and told the correct and proper way to do whatever we didn't do correctly. And one other thing that really gets under my skin: we have a patient that is strictly Spanish speaking. There isn't always someone available to interpret what the Spanish speaker is trying to tell us. I speak minimal conversational Spanish and I try very hard to communicate the best I can with her. When I see that she is really trying to communicate something important, I try to get either my female co-nurse (who is bilingual) if she's on that night or another staff member that is bilingual. I did this once while weekday boss was sitting at our station. Spanish pt. was upset about something and trying to tell me about it. I asked for assistance from someone who speaks Spanish and was able to get down to the bottom of the situation and resolve it. Weekday boss said I should have checked her blood sugar to see if that what was causing her to be upset. (yes she's diabetic). Wow. She was actually upset for a legitimate concern over something that wasn't related to her health. I just thought that was so insensitive of him. What was so wrong about asking for an interpreter so I could figure out how to help MY patient?!

    Overall, this weekday boss seems to care more about if the paperwork is all filled out completely and correctly, dotted the i's and crossed the t's, and followed every step to the letter. He doesn't seem to really care about patient care, or their needs/concerns, or the patients themselves in general. I know that's his job to make sure the administrative aspects of nursing are done correctly, but that shouldn't mean patient care & involvement should be pushed to the side.

    Well, feels good to get that off my chest. Overall, I'm very satisfied with my job - still a little too green to say happy.

    How do you all deal with a boss that is less than desirable? This has always been my achilles heel - I have such a hard time "taking orders" or being "bossed around" by someone I don't respect or that I sense doesn't care for me.
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  3. by   canoehead
    Seriously. What a chump.

    Take the med bottles with you next time...sigh.

    Complete patient care tasks before you answer the phone (or do any other clerical duties). The patient comes first right?

    Continue to ask him to speak up each and every time he mumbles instructions while walking away from you. Mention it to him, "you probably don't realize this but...." or better, email him and send yourself a copy.

    When he gives you instructions just say "OK" or "Yes sir" and give yourself 24 hours to react. Think it out before you speak with him again. Sometimes it's not worth discussing even if you're the Spanish speaking lady. My take is taht he's a ladder climber doing some major sucking up by finding and pointing out others who are inferior. Stay off the radar and he'll be promoted in a year or two.

    I'd volunteer for more weekend shifts.
  4. by   Mudder
    Welllll, to state the know not to do "no-nos" so next time dont, take the time to tuck your meds back in the cart before walking away. He CAN'T ignore something like that.
    Next, don't give him amunition not to like you or pick on you. Do your job, don't interact with him any more than you absoultly have to and he will move on to someone else.
    As far as having him repremand you and you not liking it/him, well, again, don't give him any reason to repremand you, and you don't have to like him to work for him. If he is unresonable, you can always go to your D.O.N. but be sure you're in the right and it's not just a personality conflict. If you truly can't get along with him, then change jobs......sometimes that is for the best.
    Lastly......about your spanish speaking resident, do whatever YOU believe is right for your patient (I personally think you were right). But unless this supervisor comes in the patients room and "takes over" AND has a higher degree than you, YOU ultimately are responsible for the patients care. And even if the person taking over is a RN, BSN, MD, whatever, if you feel strongly about the patients care/or lack thereof, voice your opinion. Remember, YOU are the patients advocate.
  5. by   Zookeeper3
    I've spent 16 years living under the radar.... I simply don't pick those battles... I give them what they want, are super accomidating, but when I disagree with a suggestion of care....

    I say "thank you for your opinion and advice, if my way doesn't work out, I'm certainly going to try that".... NOT! but it's said with a smile, I'm appreciative and this has never failed me. Sure, you can butt heads and stand your ground, now your in the ... dun dun dunnnn... "radar".

    I have nurses with much less exp. that supervise me because I'd never take that position, letting them think they are in charge and acting in that manor has saved me many an ulcer.

    win the battle or the war... I just need to survive each 12 hours!
  6. by   GHGoonette
    You know, this guy's description bears an eerie resemblance to this one...

    Handling chauvinistic male charge nurse - Nursing for Nurses

    As the other posters have mentioned, OP, don't give him any cause for complaint. That way you can make sure that any complaining is done by you and you alone; he seems to be giving you sufficient cause.
  7. by   ocean waves
    Hello. Regarding the medication left unattended on the med cart, I agree with the writer who said a nursing supervisor "can't ignore something like that". You said you knew leaving two pill bottles on the cart was a "no no". As you said, it can be upsetting if we get "busted" about a guideline, however situation is a "big battle" to protect patients and your nursing license. One professional response to this drug situation is to kindly admit the error, acknowledge the concern about patient safety, and convey that you will be careful not to let that situation happen again. Regarding other "small battles" such as less than ideal attitudes of supervisors, I agree with the poster who said " under the radar and do not pick those battles..." . Best wishes!
  8. by   king_of_the_hill_fan
    Thanks everyone for the great advice! I'm gonna lay low and stay under the radar. I'm happy to have 2 days off to rejuvenate and relax. I'm gonna do some soul searching to find a "happy place" when working with this supervisor. I don't want to mess anything up: my job, my license, or my patients' well-being.

    Maybe he has this "complex" because he's a short man. He's not taller than me and I'm not not tall!
  9. by   Altra
    Quote from lvnjmd
    This has always been my achilles heel - I have such a hard time "taking orders" or being "bossed around" by someone I don't respect or that I sense doesn't care for me.
    The guy does sound like a chump, but the above part of your post is something that you are going to have to make up your mind to deal with.

    Throughout your career, you will likely fill a variety of roles, and work alongside personalities of every stripe. You will not like all of them. Not all of them will like you. No matter what your position, you will always have a "boss." The boss will always, well, "boss you around", as that is his/her job.

    Your personal feelings about a coworker do not have to and should not interfere with the business of getting work done.

    We all have family/personal lives, and there is where we get to get our warm fuzzies - rarely at work, and even when you do, it tends to bite you sooner or later as organizational and/or professional goals change over time.