My Boss Hates Me and Other Workplace Conundrums

  1. Ever felt like your boss hated you? Been the victim of a nurse bully? Learn about 3 workplace conundrums and how to survive these difficult situations.

    My Boss Hates Me and Other Workplace Conundrums

    Do a google search for any myriad of statements related to nurses, their bosses, coworkers, and conflict and you will be bombarded with stories.

    These stories are your stories. It may be a nurse manager who challenges everything you do. A coworker who seems to disappear mid-shift allowing others to pick up the slack. Or, another healthcare professional who seems to find joy in belittling you in front of others. Whatever the story may be, this happens all to often in nursing departments and agencies across the U.S.

    Could it be secondary to a primary female profession? Are some people just wired to be bullies, slackers, liars, and brown nosers? Is it solely due to the stressors associated with caring for sick and dying patients? Or, could it be that our healthcare systems don't provide proper training for nursing leadership?

    Whatever the case may be, we must learn how to handle some of these work-place conundrums. You have people to care for, you don't have time to deal with a manager who simply has to be right or have the last word.

    Let's explore and few scenarios and how to handle them.

    The Micro-Management Manager - I can't think of one nurse that loves being micromanaged! We are taught from day one of nursing school to be independent thinkers. Yet, we get hired at a new job only to find out that the manager doesn't like anyone to sneeze before asking permission. Ugh! What do you do?

    The solution: Being micromanaged can quickly kill your motivation. Recognize when this is happening. Most people can handle situations better when they simply state the issue. I have even written my feelings down on a piece of paper so that I can organize my thoughts.

    Find a trusted friend, colleague, family member, or counselor and talk it out. Getting the emotions out helps to clear your mind. Then, create a plan!

    If you feed confident in your ability to level-headed, talk directly to the manager about your feelings. If you can't come to a solution together, create a system that works for you. This may mean that you deliver certain tasks the manager within their request and then allow yourself some creative and autonomous freedoms with other tasks.

    Nurse Bully - Bullying in nursing is not a new topic. The notion of "eating our young" has been around for a very long time. Today, it is not only the tenured nurses who like to spread their wings by clipping someone else's. Even newer nurses can be guilty of bullying.

    Nurse bullying not only affects you as a person, but it can hinder your ability to provide high-quality care. It changes the culture on your unit and leads to turnover in the staff. Bullying is not healthy for anyone involved, including the bully.

    The solution: Report it. While this can be uncomfortable and you may worry about retaliation, you must report nurse bullying to your supervisor.

    While you are enduring the bullying, don't succumb to the efforts of the bully. Keep your head high and confront the bully by simply pointing out the behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable and ask them to stop. If you can, walk away from the bully if talking to them is not a successful tactic.

    Bullies like power. If you can limit your interactions with them, you limit their power.

    The Boss from Hell - This is a strong image and suggestion about some nurse managers. Unfortunately, it may have conjured up an image of a manager who fit the description. We have all experienced a nurse manager from the pit.

    I have had managers who yell for no reason, cursed at me, engaged in workplace gossip, and one who handed out insults like tic-tacs. These behaviors from the person who is supposed to rally the troops is defeating, disheartening, and infuriating. It can leave you feeling that nursing is simply not the right career choice for you.

    The solution - First, don't judge a whole profession on the actions of one bad nurse manager. There are good leaders out there.

    Second, create a plan for dealing with the hellion the best you can. This may include talking to them about their expectations and your desire to meet them. You may talk to another member of management who can offer some advice for working with your manager. Or, you can confide in a trusted friend or colleague who can offer some advice.

    Finally, if the culture of the unit and the actions of this nurse manager is simply not providing you with the support you need, look for new opportunities.

    If you are really looking for a way to help the issues with nurse leadership - become a nurse leader. Yep, solve the problem by vowing to be a nurse leader - not a nurse manager. Go into leadership and offer the understanding, acceptance, and support you looked for in those that failed you.

    Other Work Conundrums
    To say that Nursing is a unique profession is probably way to simplistic of a description. Nurses tend to be strong, bold people. When you have a whole unit of independent thinkers, you will have magical or explosive combustion. Hang in there and find your tribe of nurses who offer you the support you need.

    Have you experienced one of these workplace conundrums? Have you had a different experience you would like to share? Put your story in the comments, we would love to hear about your workplace conundrums too.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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    About Melissa Mills, BSN

    Melissa Mills is a nurse who is on a journey of exploration and entrepreneurship. She is a healthcare writer who specializes in case management and leadership. When she is not in front of a computer, Melissa is busy with her husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs and a fat cat named Little Dude.

    Joined: Feb '17; Posts: 214; Likes: 708
    Freelance Writer, Nurse Case Manager, Professor; from OH , US

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    6 Comments

  3. by   Ruby Vee
    What a bunch of negative sterotypes to reinforce! Not only the "nursing is primarily a female profession" to explain workplace difficulties but then "nurses eat their young." Presumably we all know that nurses don't actually eat their young. And that PEOPLE working together sometimes causes problems, regardless of gender.

    Talking to one's nurse manager about one's feelings isn't going to get one very far in this customer-service driven, bottom line-oriented hospital climate today. Learn to deal with your own feelings. If you must talk to the nurse manager, make it not about your feelings but about the impact on patient care. Or is she micromanaging you because your practice isn't yet up to snuff? If that's the concern, ASK if your practice is meeting the unit standard and where you need to improve. Don't talk to her about how her micromanaging makes you feel. Nurse managers are busy, too, and unless you've known her for a long time (years) and have a solid relationship with her, the nurse manager is unlikely to welcome feedback about how you feel rather than how the behavior is impacting patient care on your unit.


    There are bullies out there, and I've encountered two in forty years of nursing. First make sure you're dealing with an actual bully rather than someone whose communication style you don't appreciate or someone who delivers you negative feedback. I'm amazed at some of the things I've seen people on this forum ascribe to bullying. "She didn't say hello to me when I saw her in the lobby!" "My preceptor is a bully -- she wouldn't eat lunch with me!" "They don't invite me to the wedding shower or the baby shower!" Rather than realize that the nurse who didn't say hello in the lobby might not have seen you because her glasses were fogged up after coming inside and she's blind as a bat without them (and why didn't you say hello first if it's that big a deal?), the preceptor is having lunch with an old friend to discuss her feelings about her impending divorce (a conversation to which you don't invite someone you've just met) or that the wedding shower or baby shower is being thrown by the honorees sister who knows to invite some of her longtime friends and colleagues but who doesn't know you, people attribute things to bullying. If you're dealing with an actual bully, perhaps the first step is to stand up to them, talk to them about it. THEN if you get nowhere, consider reporting them.

    As far as bad nurse managers -- hellions? Really? If you've encountered multiple nurse managers who curse at you, gossip about you inappropriately or "hand out insults like tic tacs", I have to wonder what you're bringing to those interactions. I've had bad nurse managers, but that seems pretty extreme. Nevertheless, your first bit of advice is good. Talk to the manager about their expectations and how you are or are not meeting them. Talking to another member of management about working with your nurse manager is likely to paint a target on your back. It would be better to talk to a trusted colleague, preferably someone who has worked successfully with the nurse manager for a number of years.

    This "article" has been around for a couple of days and I haven't commented because I DON'T "like" it. But now that it's included in the nursing insights it will get more views, and I don't think it's the best way to present the material nor do I think the advice is good.
  4. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    I have to agree with Ruby. We have dumbed down "bullying" to an asinine extent. Not saying Hi? Hot eating lunch with somebody? Being mean on facebook??? At least its funny
  5. by   caliotter3
    Also agree with Ruby. This article only reinforces a dumbed down view of nursing and impedes professionalism. Not everyone thinks and acts on a pre-adolescent level.
  6. by   Melissa Mills
    [QUOTE=Ruby Vee;9764921]What a bunch of negative sterotypes to reinforce! Not only the "nursing is primarily a female profession" to explain workplace difficulties but then "nurses eat their young." Presumably we all know that nurses don't actually eat their young. And that PEOPLE working together sometimes causes problems, regardless of gender......

    Thanks for your thoughts and comments Ruby. I was prepared for others to disagree with some of the thoughts expressed in this post. When I write, I not only use my experiences, but the experiences of others that they have shared with me. I have held various positions from bedside nurse to Director. Not everyone's experiences are the same.

    Thanks again for your comments and willingness to share. ~Melissa
  7. by   Melissa Mills
    Quote from SpankedInPittsburgh
    I have to agree with Ruby. We have dumbed down "bullying" to an asinine extent. Not saying Hi? Hot eating lunch with somebody? Being mean on facebook??? At least its funny
    Thanks for your thoughts!
  8. by   Melissa Mills
    Quote from caliotter3
    Also agree with Ruby. This article only reinforces a dumbed down view of nursing and impedes professionalism. Not everyone thinks and acts on a pre-adolescent level.
    Thanks for your thoughts Caliotter3.

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