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How to deal with management who "disciplines" you for no good reason?

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by DK123 DK123 Member Nurse

Specializes in ACE.

Not really discipline, or may be it is a good reason for them. Recently we had our halloween/thanksgiving events at our facility for Residents and then staff. Staff played halloween games on the unit with the Clinical Nurse who organized it, I did not join and refused to do so the other PCA, Activation etc.. joined but not me I was just there to do my meds and document. The Clinical lead was telling me to join, and its like man do you not get the message I did not join I'm busy. The place is already struggling with staffing and they worried about BS like that which is why I boycott things like that. They have also suspended staff for things like coming late (even if its a good reason), delivering cold food to Residents, etc... list goes on and on.

Later that shift they were having a Pizza lunch, I obviously did not go down to get my pizza, drink or desert. I was not interested in that kind of thing. Again the Clinical lead somewhat got offended because she started questioning me "Why don't you want the food"? I just said "No thank you". It then became weird cause  she proceeded to ask me "oh are you single, do you still live at home"?. as if we've known each other I ignored her, she kept pressing so I told her "listen mind your own business".

Next day I was called into the Directors office about these incidents I listed above, and we have a decent relationship, they gave me a "verbal warning" no official disciplinary letter just telling me not to be toxic, no harassment or bullying. They Also suggested that I "join the activities to boost moral", I did not know that management speaks for me about my moral but okay.

I don't feel like I am doing anything wrong, none of this stuff is related to Nursing. Like why are they getting offended I did not attend their lunch? I don't care about stuff like that.

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

Are these "fluff" things nursing? No. Should you work on your social "soft" skills if you want your work environment to be less unpleasant? Yes.

There are more diplomatic ways to say "listen, mind your own business" to a supervisor/clinical lead than to say "listen, mind your own business".

macawake, MSN

Has 13 years experience.

3 hours ago, DK123 said:

They Also suggested that I "join the activities to boost moral", I did not know that management speaks for me about my moral but okay.

They’re not talking about your morale, but the teams’.
 

3 hours ago, DK123 said:

I don't feel like I am doing anything wrong, none of this stuff is related to Nursing. Like why are they getting offended I did not attend their lunch? I don't care about stuff like that.

Correct, it’s not related to nursing. It’s related to work. You don’t exist in a vacuum, you are a part of your workplace. People will likely view you as antisocial if you refuse to take part of any of the type of work-related activities that you describe above. Management will likely regard you as a non-teamplayer. If you want your worklife to cause you less discord, it’s probably smart to do some minor adjustments. By refusing to attend, you are drawing attention to yourself.

I personally don’t eat cake, pizza or any type of junk food, but I always make an appearance for these work-related things. It’s just to show that I am a part of the team, and there’s always someone there that I enjoy chatting with for fifteen minutes or so. 
 

3 hours ago, DK123 said:

I ignored her, she kept pressing so I told her "listen mind your own business".

Next day I was called into the Directors office about these incidents I listed above, and we have a decent relationship, they gave me a "verbal warning" no official disciplinary letter just telling me not to be toxic, no harassment or bullying.

Jedrnurse is correct, there are many other ways you could have expressed this. I’m very direct by nature, blunt even, but even I would think of a more diplomatic way to share my standpoint.

Why have you made this the hill to die on? You risk getting labeled a difficult employee. For what? Why not show up and spend a little bit of time with your coworkers? If you’re an introvert or for some reason really don’t like any of your coworkers, then treat it as just another job duty you are required to fulfill. It will make your worklife easier. I’m assuming that you still got your regular pay for the time you would have attended the Halloween and pizza events?

If I’m honest, if I was the manager and had an employee who never wanted to take part in any of the ”social events” at work, I would regard them as either lacking in social skills or worry that they were depressed or suffered from burnout. 
 

Best wishes!

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 15 years experience.

I don't have anything else to add, just want to say my colleagues above said exactly what I was going to say.

It sounds like your clinical lead was trying to be friendly, get to know you, maybe help you feel a part of the team. She may have interpreted your lack of interest in joining the group as shyness or discomfort, and she was trying to help you feel more comfortable. I would have been very put off if, in an attempt at being friendly to someone, I was met with "Mind your own business!"

You need to work on your social skills. That's as much part of being successful in your work environment as your technical skills. In fact, in many environments, cultural fit is as important, or MORE important, as technical skill. Technical skill can be taught; soft skills are more innate and harder to identify. As a hiring manager, I look for people who have the right social/cultural fit for our workplace, just as much as their experience and skill, because nothing kills workplace morale faster than people who don't get along with their coworkers.

I guess I did have something else to add, after all.

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 15 years experience.

Also, being late, even if it's a "good reason" SHOULD be disciplined if it's a pattern of behavior. It's not BS.

I'm middle of the road on this, or my thoughts are split:

1. I think it is morally repugnant to expect on-duty clinical staff to join in these kinds of activities while also holding them responsible for a measure of work that can typically be understood to be more than what a single person can accomplish well on a good day. It is work that is fraught with pitfalls and requires concentration. Whether it's pArTy dAY or not, the nurse is expected to provide a professional service at a prudent standard. I think people who pressure clinical staff for this type of participation do themselves actually have personal problems, because wrapped up in it all is that they want recognition for what they have planned that they imagine others will certainly enjoy. And they want to throw a hissy fit if others are not as entirely enthused about their ideas and their efforts as they are. Nurses aren't pressured to go play Bingo with the patients. Because bingo is bingo, not some special party that someone spent time planning and wants recognition for. So if the safety issue weren't enough, there is also a self-esteem problem buried in there.

2. There are ways to maneuver that maintain one's professional principles without causing a showdown or being hell-bent on sending a message. The right answer here is to say to yourself: "I am concentrating right now. When I am done with [concentrating on] Mrs. Jones' meds I will take 5 minutes to meander down there, smile a lot and say 'this is so wonderful, the residents are really enjoying it!' and then come back and resume my medication pass." Then do that.

UrbanHealthRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community and Public Health, Addictions Nursing. Has 11 years experience.

I'm going to agree with JKL33 on this. As a woman in America, I feel like society's expectation for me is to constantly be happy/bubbly/willing to share personal details about my life (ex. marital status, pregnancy status) with anyone at any time. I don't agree with that. I set boundaries for myself all the time, and work is no exception. Also, If I wanted to be nice to a coworker and try to get to know her better, I would not start by asking her if she is single and living alone. I would compliment her outfit. I'd ask her if she's watching anything interesting on Netflix. Normal, casual questions. 

To me, the bottom line is getting my job done and being a team player while I'm at work. And I think we can agree that for many of us, our workload has increased since Covid began, and it takes a lot of time to get everything done during our shifts. That should be respected by coworkers and supervisors. But while I'm working my butt off, I remember to say hello to my coworkers, mind my manners, hold a door open for someone, and work together on a complex patient task. If I can't make it to a work function, I'll ask others how it went and apologize for missing it. People know I'm helpful and respectful because of that, and in turn they are helpful and respectful to me. 

OP, I think you were wrong and I’ll tell you why.  First let me say, I don’t join in on after work parties.  I’m not there to make life long besties.  I’m there to work and my life is very full of my family outside of work.

That being said, while I’m at work, I participate.  It’s how you build trust and teamwork.  You need some social skills in nursing, not just with your patients and they’d families, but with your coworkers.  Nurses need an immense amount of trust with each other.  You need to depend on your teammates to have your back when the crap hits the fan.  
 

You need to participate while on the clock.  You don’t have to do one darn thing with anyone off the clock, but as silly as it sounds, a party helps build relationships.

BeatsPerMinute, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac. Has 5 years experience.

I'm an introvert and am not always excited to participate in these sorts of things... however, many jobs and careers both in and outside of healthcare do social events and team building exercises to help increase trust and build moral (not for you... for the entire team). you don't have to go full out, however, showing up, even for a little bit, can be tremendously helpful in building team trust and comradery. 

Maybe consider swinging back and talking with your Director again, be professional, explain that youre a very focused worker and perhaps get tunnel vision whilst at work (which are great qualities! every boss wants a hard worker who takes their job seriously), and that also you recognize how that by avoiding socializing with your co-workers, it could become a challenge for your colleagues to build trust with you. If you're an introvert, share that. Then also, share with your Director what you will do (examples: ease into showing up more and more to social events; listening to podcasts about trust building and boosting team moral; reading books, asking others for feedback, etc)  Director will feel heard and feel better about things knowing that youre taking things seriously. then do the work.