Sorry about the unwieldy title, but Angie O'Plasty's thread on the all-too-common practice of 'weeding out' staff nurses has gotten me to wondering: How many of you have gone into management yourselves after leaving a staff-nursing position in which you were unfairly targeted or abused by an unscrupulous boss? And how has that experience affected the way you manage your own staff?
For those who are unfamiliar with it, the short version of my story is this: From March 2003 until December of last year, I worked as a float nurse on a unit where one of the two assistant department managers decided she was going to make life miserable for a few of us older, and perhaps slower, staff nurses. To this day I don't know why, because I was reliable, flexible, good with patients, technically competent, and easy to get along with, but she did, and for a year-and-a-half I was given some of the worst assignments, criticized for every single minor mistake or omission, told that my co-workers saw me as "unmotivated", driven hard, and generally made to feel I couldn't do anything right. Finally, after a year of stress-related illness and hospitalizations, I realized that nothing I did was ever going to be enough even if I killed myself doing it, and I left that job nine days before Christmas.
Fast-forward to the present time: I am now the director of health services for a 42-bed assisted living community, a position which is roughly the equivalent of a DON/DNS in a nursing home. I'm no stranger to supervision and management, having been a care manager and assistant DON in two different LTCs; but in this job I've been given a huge amount of leeway to use my creativity and independent judgment to make the position conform to my wishes and needs, as well as to oversee nursing services the way I see fit.
Now, nine months later, I've had mostly great results with my staff, most of whom are unlicensed caregivers with specialized training in medications and nursing skills. Being a relatively patient person, for the most part, I'm pretty laid-back when it comes to managing people (although I'm finding that this backfires now and again) and I like to facilitate their learning and growth, rather than micromanaging them the way I've had done to me. I don't call employees on every little mistake; I make a point to always look for the GOOD things they do and praise them. Even when I have to discipline someone, I try to do it in such a manner that it's a learning experience rather than a punitive one. In return, I expect workers to behave as responsible adults (if you're hung over out of your gourd, too bad---you STILL have to come to work in the morning) and to treat the residents as they would their own parents or grandparents, because if this is just a way to earn beer money, they need to go flip burgers or something!
This approach doesn't always work, of course (in fact, I've got a couple of disciplinary issues to deal with tomorrow morning
) but I'd rather put up with a little immaturity from otherwise good workers than grind them down and make them feel the way I did when I worked under that one assistant manager.
So now I'm curious about other nurses who have made the leap from being a staff nurse with little say and even less control over their working lives, to supervisory or executive roles with their own challenges, headaches, adversities, and successes. I'm still a little dizzy over the enormous changes that have taken place; I literally went from a frightened little mouse with a sharp-clawed, mean-tempered, and very hungry cat watching my every move, to a (relatively) self-confident authority figure in less than a year. Yet I know I'm not the only nurse who's been through something like it and learned to thrive, and I'd like to hear others' perspectives........not only from a manager's point of view, but from that cold, dark place we have come from as the targets of cruel, insensitive, power-hungry, inept, or just plain uncaring supervisors.
Sep 10, '06
Oh Marla.....glad you learned from your experiences. My manager leaves a whole lot to be desired. But then again, she has not been a floor nurse since who-knows-when and seems to almost have contempt for us who are...esp night shifters. She is utterly clueless as to our issues or even what we do on a given shift....and can't be bothered when we try to tell her.
She has actually held her hand up and told us to "deal with it" when we try to bring up serious issues that need her attention as a manager...
I realize management is a HARD job...and I appreciate that so much....but dangit a LITTLE effort or appreciation would sure go a long way for me. Oh well, guess it's too much to ask...and she is too stressed out.
I wish I worked for someone more like you.........sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......I wish more were like you.
Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Sep 10, '06
Sep 10, '06
Oh yea I have heard that one before...in some variation. "Deal with it....." or "I just can't handle that now".....or a huge sigh when she knows a "problem" is knocking on the door.....
The special effect being the hand up in the air, to wave us off, love that!
.....while you go home at night at 4:30 to 5:00 and never to be seen again til 8 or so....
forget the night shift. Don't even try to bring up OUR issues there....does not want to hear from us at all.
Management is HARD no doubt. I respect the position and the difficulties that go with it. I know for sure I won't be one.....(a manager). I hope you can keep up on the path you are pursuing, Marla. I hope they don't beat ya down....
Ok enough from me. I am not a manager and this was not my thread.....Simply...
Nurse who knows better....and is better FOR IT.
Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Sep 10, '06