How to Handle a Bully as a Supervisor


  • Career Columnist / Author
    Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

My boss is hiring back an LPN in my LTC setting. I will be her supervisor. She has a history of bullying, not teaming up with other nurses, minimal work requirements, insensitive and rude to residents and not reporting resident changes. What do I do? She said there is nothing in her file. But the old boss discriminated and never made her accountable.

Dear Supervisor,

Oh my goodness. She sounds like a piece of work and a challenge for you.

As her supervisor, give her clear, measurable expectations. When she doesn't meet job expectations, initiate progressive discipline, starting with verbal warnings. Document all counselings/warnings.

Keep up on her performance evaluations. Start right away with a 30 day evaluation

or given according to your facility's policy for a new hire.

Of the job performance problems you listed, the easiest to measure and document

is not reporting changes in residents' conditions.

Document all resident/family complaints. Check her work to make sure she does what she documents (dressing changes, procedures, timely administration of medications).

If she performs as poorly as you say, it should not be long before there is a sufficient

paper trail for your boss to act upon.

If your new boss does not hold her accountable, then you have a bigger problem. A job with responsibility (supervisor) but without authority.

Good luck to you. If nothing else, you will be able to hone your coaching/counseling skills.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth



38,333 Posts

Responsibility without authority. Hmmm?! Why does this sound so familiar?

Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

167 Articles; 2,968 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development. Has 30 years experience.
Responsibility without authority. Hmmm?! Why does this sound so familiar? does, doesn't it?

If I were the boss I would be very quickly moving toward the "you're fired" phase of the discussion. If you aren't focused on your patients I have zero use for you. Hence, I am not in a supervisory capacity of any kind because I recognize that I have no patience for these types.


3,833 Posts



411 Posts

Responsibility without authority is all too common in middle management. You are expected to get results with your hands tied behind your back. Altogether too much fun (not.)

Specializes in Cardicac Neuro Telemetry. Has 100 years experience.

Keep a paper trail of what she does. Document everything. That way, if you need to take action, you will have the grounds to do so. Give her verbal warnings and write her up if she continues her behavior. Make it clear that her attitude and actions will not be tolerated at all.

feelix, RN

340 Posts

Not reporting changes can be serious. Even if your boss takes no action, a paper trail would still stick in her record. These days it is an electronic trail which is even more difficult to get rid of than paper.

You can still talk to her and give her feedback and document it.


146 Posts

Specializes in Orthopedics, Med-Surg. Has 18 years experience.

While I agree with what everybody has written here, be very careful to hand out the discipline evenly to all those under your supervision. If I were the LPN, my first response to all the documentation would be that you picked him or her out as a special project, which of course you have, albeit for legitimate reasons. So pop his or her balloon quickly by being able to show that you've been keeping a critical eye on everyone else at the same time.

Writeups ought to include facts but not conclusions. It's tough to argue against facts. It's very easy to argue against conclusions.

Wlaurie, RN

170 Posts

Sounds like you already have trouble if you have explained what type of person she is and your boss is going to hire her anyway. However having worked ltc sometimes they will hire anybody that is a warm body and breathing.