Toxic Nurse Managers and how to deal... - page 2

OK, all of you seasoned nurses out there. For those of us who are relatively new to nursing, how do you deal with the toxic manager? You know the type -- the one who would not spit on you if... Read More

  1. by   NursesRmofun
    Quote from Chaya
    Hmmm...what to do with those lovely bean-counters, I mean people. Well, I find there's always an irate family member or two who is upset that Mom didn't get her water and "the call light's been on for 15 minutes". After a quick attempt to explain to them all available staff members were attending to another pt. with chest pain, I refer them to our lovely clueless leader. After all, she is the official public face that represents out unit-I mean, that's what she's there for, right?! Got to keep them busy and she does always tell us how willing she is to help, so I make sure to send her stuff that will use her own special talents and then she can she us how customer service is done! Happy, happy, happy!

    Outside of that, as other posters have mentioned- there's so much BS you can avoid by working the off shifts- sooo worth it!
    Yeah. And then the Manager can refer them to the DON and so on and so on. Does *stuff* run uphill? :chuckle Yeah. It's better to be on the off-shift, I'm sure.
  2. by   llg
    Quote from bluesky
    I am just graduating school this month but I did work as a unit secretary in a busy ED for 5 years. My final observation was that neutral people who just came to work, did a good job and went home reliably weren't bothered, even by the nastiest most unprofessional managers. It's not fair, but this is exactly who I plan to be in my nursing work life. I will keep my activism for my political life, not the workplace.
    There is a lot to be said for "going with the flow" and being a "neutral person" for a while on a job, particularly when you are relatively new and/or don't want to take the political heat for sticking your neck out. I recommend that as an excellent strategy that is appropriate for many, many people.

    However, there is a time and a place for workplace activism. Just the other day, I advised a friend to take a risk, stick her neck out, and stand up to someone who needed to be challenged. My friend is in a leadership position and another leader was trying to push her around. I reminded her that being a leader sometimes meaning being willing to take a few bullets for the cause.

    You have to choose your battles carefully ... don't sweat the small stuff ... give other people room to be imperfect ... etc. ... but if you want to be a leader, sometimes you have to actually lead -- and that can be painful.

    As Jack Aubrey in the movie, "Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World" said to a cowering midshipman during a battle: "Always stand tall on the quarterdeck." (The quarterdeck is where the officers stood.)

    llg
    Last edit by llg on May 3, '04
  3. by   NursesRmofun
    Quote from llg
    You have to choose your battles carefully ... don't sweat the small stuff ... give other people room to be imperfect ... etc. ... but if you want to be a leader, sometimes you have to actually lead -- and that can be painful.

    As Jack Aubrey in the movie, "Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World" said to a cowering midshipman during a battle: "Always stand tall on the quarterdeck." (The quarterdeck is where the officers stood.)

    llg
    Wise words and good attitudes. It's not easy being a Manager...and you can't please everyone.
  4. by   Rapheal
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    I don't deal with toxic situations for too long. I leave them. Life is way too short, and fortunately, jobs plentiful.

    This answer makes alot of sense. It takes many factors to make a toxic work environment. And most toxic work environments have staff that are resistant to change. People who cannot or will not tolerate it will move on, leaving those who will put up with it or contribute to it. Very hard to change this type of environment and the staff members who have their varied and personal reasons for liking it the way it is. I speak from experience because I have been and advocate for change in the past.

    Life is short and we pick and choose our work and home environments. Why stay and become miserable? Try to change it and you will have a target on your back and all the stress related problems that go along with it. I say move on and work with people who enjoy a good work environment and work hard to keep it that way. I believe that like attracts like. So nasty work places are usually filled with nasty people and vice versa. This is just my opinion, but I believe it to be valid. I would find a better place to work.
  5. by   mtnmom
    I am currently in such an environment working for such a person, and yes, she has herself surrounded with her cadre of followers/brown-osers...my manager is very authoritative and dictatorial. She is also not consistent, giving perhaps one answer to one person one day and one to another the next. And those are the nice things about her.

    All in all, however, I was happily plodding along doing my job and being ignored until I made the mistake of trying to advocate for a patient. I complained to her about the treatment of a non-English speaking patient whom I had transferred from antepartum/mother-Baby to L&D - the poor lady was not charted on from 4:30 am until after shift change. I phrased my complaint in the form of an email so I could summarize the whole situation, and was very careful not to place blame on anyone.

    That was the first week of January. I never received a response to my email, and in recounting the incident to a coworker a couple of weeks ago stated that I was puzzled I did not get a response - even to say "you're way off base". Then just a couple of days ago I received a forwarded message in my inbox, where she had forwarded my letter to HER superior explaining that she felt no need to respond because my allegations were unfounded. She went on to say that the woman's strip had been charted on, (obviously all this was added after the fact because it was not there @ shift change). She then iced the cake by stating that I was inappropriate to have stated she did not follow up without checking with her first (like I said, a simple reply to my email would have gone miles)

    Oh yes, and by the way, less than a week after I made my complaint, I was slapped with a discliplinary action...my first ever in 27 years of being in the working world. I had just come in from working night shift to find my plumbing all backed up, and got a call from someone on days asking a question about something I had done the night before. This particular person has a history of being rude and hateful (this time was not different)- at some point during the conversation I turned to my husband and uttered a couple of expletives (to the effect that "I'm * tired of this*, I've been up all * night "). Well, that afternoon I was awakened by a phone call stating that I was being disciplined for lashing out at and verbally abusing an employee. I was not even allowed to give my side of the story, nor did it make a difference that A. I was in my own home, B. I was off the clock, C. the remark was not directed at the employee.

    Now I'm trying desperately to get out but have a nice big fat disciplinary action like an albatross around my neck, so I cannot transfer within the hospital. I am interviewing at other facilities though.

    My advice to you, OP, is get out of the environment ASAP but do not make any waves in the meantime.

    When I leave this facility I plan to ask for a meeting with the VP of nursing and at that time will put everything on the table.
    And I am thinking of contacting an attorney.
  6. by   imenid37
    As I said, there are exemplary managers who do a great job. I have met some, but I have also been treated to some really downright unethical paper pushers who look out for #1 and a few select cronies. Maybe it depends on your facility's philosophy and if those at the upper levels of management pass that on down to the mid-level. I am not ragging on good managers, but I am ragging on the many inept people in management positions. As far as c/o's from irate families, some are warranted. Others are part of the McDonald's "I want it now " mentality which prevails today.Unfortunately, many managers choose to chastize staff who are doing the best they can and side w/ an unreasonable family member. (I worked w/ someone who a family c/o'd didn't smile enough). I have worked in a situation where things like computerized charting were intro'd and were very cumbersome, but if you dared to make a suggestion, you were branded a trouble-maker. Again, if you are a good manager, I salute you. Another issue is w/ all of the rules/regs we have today, it can almost be an undoable job. I know that, but that still doesn't excuse people in mid-management who go along w/ their bosses and insist that the staff do unsafe things. ITA w/ the poster who said your best bet is to just lay low and do a good job. If you don't have to schmooz anyone at your management job and you are rewarded for good work, then it sounds like you are in a very professional environment. That certainly isn't an isolated situation, but it is not universal and that brings all of us down. When a manager just blatantly doesn't do his/her job then that gives the unit a bad rep and gives that person little weight when they try to come down on staff who aren't doing their jobs. I am sorry I have a strong opinion about this subject. I have been in circumstances that relate to a manger's actions which are so outrageous they are almost beyond belief. W/ some of the reporting of co-workers others have done here, unfortunately I don't feel free to elaborate on them here. When I talk to my other nurse friends who work elsewhere, I find that they too have had to deal with absolutely unreasonable behaviour from management. I wish these situations were isolated, but they are not. If you're a good manager, I would encourage YOU to speak out when you know other managers are not doing their job because they are hurting all of us. For the good of the pt's, it is often the toxic manager who should have to move on, not the staff people.
    Last edit by imenid37 on May 3, '04
  7. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    How I have dealt with these type of people and situations is to quit.

    When I was a new nurse, I would think "I'll do better, I'll try harder, I will give everything I've got, and she will see I am a good nurse and treat me fairly."

    I worked myself into nearly having a breakdown, and it did no good. Now I know better.
    When there seems to be "something rotten Denmark", I leave. No more thinking "Well, maybe she's having a bad day, under a lot of stress. I will give it a chance."

    I left two jobs after two shifts in 2002. I had already seen all I needed to to know the environments were toxic. I have no regrets.

    If you could lay golden eggs for this type of NM, she would just berate you because you didn't do it fast enough, and you should have known to provide her with platinum eggs.
    Then, she would give you a horrible pt assingment, and schedule you to work the next four weekends in a row.

    Don't cast your pearls before swine.

    If it were me, I'd be outta there.
  8. by   imenid37
    Helllo Nurse, I love your signature quote about how being a good nurse often means you are not a good employee. Never a truer saying when it comes to this subject, that's for sure.
  9. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Thank you, Imenid. Being a pt advocate often gets nurses labled as "trouble makers" and gets us told we're "not team players."

    It sure makes us unpopular, sometimes, when we stand up for our pts.

    Oh, I like your sig line, too. I am owned by six cats.
  10. by   wjf00
    Quote from Stitchie
    OK, all of you seasoned nurses out there.

    For those of us who are relatively new to nursing, how do you deal with the toxic manager? You know the type -- the one who would not spit on you if you were on fire. :angryfire

    How do you deal with the dead-weight, won't get off his arse, useless assitant nurse manager who relies on his pretty-boy looks and empty, completely useless, completely insincere charm to make things go his way?

    Haven't we all faced them at one time or another? What's a new nurse to do?(even a relatively new nurse, like me, who's been 'out there' for 10 months now) :uhoh21:
    Quit, no need to work for a bad manager, there is a shortage. Nothing get's the higher ups attention like rapid turn over.
  11. by   Stitchie
    Quote from imenid37
    Helllo Nurse, I love your signature quote about how being a good nurse often means you are not a good employee. Never a truer saying when it comes to this subject, that's for sure.
    Thanks for the replies. I chose this one because I like your kitty line too...I've been owned for 14 years by the world's two most spoiled cats ever.
  12. by   Chaya
    The trouble with quitting is you can't always tell if what you're getting into is going to turn out any better.
  13. by   mattsmom81
    I am very particular who I work for these days. Healthcare troday can be very cutthroat and there are frustrated people everywhere spewing venom on coworkers. When a vindictive, powerhungry nurse gets a management position: look out. My radar is on high to these types and I run like the wind from them, personally.

    I agree with Jody Foster who said "Life is too short to be around unpleasant people" ... and this is specially true when they're the boss.

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