Toxic Nurse Managers and how to deal...

  1. 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:
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  2. 33 Comments

  3. by   Stitchie
    Anyone out there?
  4. by   imenid37
    I wish I could answer you w/ a solution-oriented reponse. I feel your pain and have felt it many times over the past 20+ years I have worked in various hospitals, including 17 yrs. as an RN. I think part of the reason people in mid-management go on their tangents is because of staff level nurse who do a lot of brown-nosing and back-stabbing. In other words, staff RN's/LPN's will c/o about these people(managers) to other staff people behind their backs while kissing up big-time to their face. I don't understand people's need to be extremely two-faced, but that seems to be how a lot of people run their lives.
  5. by   Stitchie
    I don't really think there is a solution; I think that there is more of a need for nurses to use strategies to deal with these difficult people.

    I have noticed that many people are posting that they are having a hard time with management. Since I work PM's, I barely ever see the managers in my department and that's fine with me!

    Thanks for the reply.
  6. by   NursesRmofun
    Quote from imenid37
    I wish I could answer you w/ a solution-oriented reponse. I feel your pain and have felt it many times over the past 20+ years I have worked in various hospitals, including 17 yrs. as an RN. I think part of the reason people in mid-management go on their tangents is because of staff level nurse who do a lot of brown-nosing and back-stabbing. In other words, staff RN's/LPN's will c/o about these people(managers) to other staff people behind their backs while kissing up big-time to their face. I don't understand people's need to be extremely two-faced, but that seems to be how a lot of people run their lives.
    You aren't kidding! You said a mouthful! Lots of brown-nosing...but the truth is...it isn't about who you like...or it shouldn't be! It should be about how the person gets the patients/residents cared for properly and the paperwork done (that is an administrational necessity) and how fair the person is to work with/for. Whether someone isn't pleasant enough really is not relevant. Sure, it is more pleasant to have some smile...I agree. But we can't all like our supervisors and managers. They are not there to make friends. I had to make that choice early on. I am pleasant, but I don't make my rules, my assignments, or my requests of staff because I am considering how much the staff will like me. I just try to be fair.
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I don't deal with toxic situations for too long. I leave them. Life is way too short, and fortunately, jobs plentiful.
  8. by   rnmaven
    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:
    Dear Stitchie,

    I am sorry to tell you that ultimately, the only way you may be able to deal with this situation is to leave this situation. It depends on the amount of day to day contact you actually have with this manager. Sometimes you can take small amounts of toxic contact, but if you have to deal with this type of manager on a daily basis, it may be unbearable and unhealthy over the long term. Personally, I always found that if I didn't get along with a "boss" I just did my time to build my resume or make my money and then, when a better opportunity came along, I left.

    I attended a continuing ed course on "dealing with difficult people" once and I remember the mantra of the teacher. "Difficult people became that way because their past behaviors have brought them success!" And it's so true.....if you have a toxic manager who surrounds themselves with brown nosing people who agree with all their toxic behaviors they just fuel the fire and reinforce the toxic behavior.

    Over time, you will find your own style of dealing with this type of manager. You'll learn to adjust your communication style and behaviors to be able to function in a work environment that may be toxic but may bring you some personal success. Ideally, it would be nicer to find an environment where you can grow professionally and be mentored by an inspiring manager.

    Good luck in your new career! And welcome to the world of dysfunctional leaders!
  9. by   Stitchie
    Hi All!

    Thanks for the replies. I have found that the ED PM shifts really limit my contact but there are those times...

    I really enjoy what I'm doing now, but I know that I will not be with the facility long-term. Far too disorganized, although many do seem to thrive in this type of enviroment. Lots falls thru the cracks though.

    I like the comment about difficult people being reinforced for their bad behavior. Gives me something to think about -- my own bad behavior included. None of us are perfect, and we all have our difficult days!

    Thanks again to those who responded. 'Preciate it.
  10. by   elorra
    There is no real solution to this and having been the recent victim of such an individual I can but only sympathise. Unfortunately, bullying behaviour is rife in the health arena.
  11. by   imenid37
    Elorra, I am sad to hear this problem crosses international boundaries, but not at all surprised. I guess, you have to weigh your options. I have been frustrated by gossiping/favouritism causing the workplace to be a very unproductive and unprofessional environment. I have not, however, actually been the object of any scandals/extensive gossip like some of my co-workers have. In some ways, I'd love to leave, but it would cause me another set of problems (transportation, scheduling, less time w/ my kids), so I stay where I am. Do I find myself getting in to this crap? I'd love to say no but sometimes I do. Part of it stems from my frustration w/ management's lack of response to people who don't do their jobs. (I work w/ a woman who magically "needs to stock cribs or feed sleeping babies" when there is an emergency, so she can't help EVER. She , of course, requires extensive help if there is any trouble w/ a pt. she is caring for). The reason management doesn't want to deal w/ this person and others varies. She is not a "favoured" person. In fact, the manager is glad to gossip w/ you about what a ding-a-ling this woman is. To address her inappropriate behaviour might mean they would be expected to deal w/ some others who act out inappropriately who they do like or perhaps they are just too darn busy kissing the behinds of those on upper rungs of the management ladder to bother w/ piddly issues like pt. safety.

    It is only my opinion and not universally true, of course, but I think the healthcare environment today dictates that those in management are implementers of regulations and policies (some of the HIPPA crap and computerized nurse-unfriendly charting we have comes to my mind). This is a shame because there are lots of talented folks w/ leadership potential and integrity, but they are not "what upper management is looking for." How many people on this board know managers who lack clinical knowledge about the units they "lead", but know when the VP of nursing's birthday is? They love to spout of to staff who dare complain that the staff person is not "a team Player", when it is the manager who is playing the individual sport of olympic "arse-kissing" to administraion who is demanding cost-saving, pt. jeapordizing measures. Are there some really good managers out there w/ ethical backbone who do a great job? EMPHATICALLY YES! Sometimes, they get ripped apart because they are true leaders who don't want to play today's healthcare "game."

    Although, I know I slip and gossip when I spout off about other co-workers, I try to stop myself when I realize what I am doing. It's not appropriate. I try to just speak to the person directly at the time of the incident. I also know I am far from perfect. I do try to remove myself from the gossip-brown-nosing-back-stabbing cycle as much as possible. It's why my body says work day shift, but my mind tells me to stay on night shift.
  12. by   NursesRmofun
    Quote from imenid37
    It is only my opinion and not universally true, of course, but I think the healthcare environment today dictates that those in management are implementers of regulations and policies (some of the HIPPA crap and computerized nurse-unfriendly charting we have comes to my mind). This is a shame because there are lots of talented folks w/ leadership potential and integrity, but they are not "what upper management is looking for." How many people on this board know managers who lack clinical knowledge about the units they "lead", but know when the VP of nursing's birthday is? They love to spout of to staff who dare complain that the staff person is not "a team Player", when it is the manager who is playing the individual sport of olympic "arse-kissing" to administraion who is demanding cost-saving, pt. jeapordizing measures. Are there some really good managers out there w/ ethical backbone who do a great job? EMPHATICALLY YES! Sometimes, they get ripped apart because they are true leaders who don't want to play today's healthcare "game."
    Although, I know I slip and gossip when I spout off about other co-workers, I try to stop myself when I realize what I am doing. It's not appropriate. I try to just speak to the person directly at the time of the incident. I also know I am far from perfect. I do try to remove myself from the gossip-brown-nosing-back-stabbing cycle as much as possible. It's why my body says work day shift, but my mind tells me to stay on night shift.
    Hmm.. Well, Mangement in my facility has a few different jobs....seeing the patients are cared for properly, seeing that the staff is doing their jobs, and making sure the necessary paperwork is done. I have been given authority by my DON and Administrator to write up people who do not do what they are supposed to (and they know what those duties are) and after so many warnings, they will be fired. Our DON and Admin. does not want to keep "bad" employees. As for my paperwork, I have to do it so the nursing home gets paid and we ALL have a job. Without money coming in, there would be no nursing home. I don't brown-nose to my DON and Admin. Thankfully, I don't feel I have to. And it's not my nature. As for the staffing, that is something that has to be changed by state regulations. I'd like to see 1 aide:5-6 residents as a regulation. But that may never happen. That is really what needs to change IMO.
    Last edit by NursesRmofun on May 3, '04
  13. by   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.
  14. by   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!

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