Too nice to be a supervisor?

  1. Hi everyone,

    I got feedback for a supervisor position I applied for-my qualifications are fine but the Human Resource interviewer believes I may be 'too nice of a person' and would be a 'push over'. I personally don't believe that you need to have an aggressive personality to be a good supervisor. In my present position, I have good working relations with my subordinates and they're feedback has always been good. I welcome any thoughts.

    Hoping I don't have to be a tyrant to be a good supervisor.
  2. Visit Onthegonurse profile page

    About Onthegonurse

    Joined: Jan '09; Posts: 9; Likes: 1

    19 Comments

  3. by   VivaLasViejas
    You don't have to be a jerk to be a good boss. It may make you look better to upper management, but honestly, they aren't the ones you have to work with every day.

    I too have often been accused of being "too nice"---I don't write people up when I suppose I should, don't yell at them for making mistakes, don't push them hard enough. Well, as someone who's had all of the above crammed down my throat at one point or another in 30+ years of working, I find that I am NOT motivated by fear and loathing........in fact, when I'm treated like something the boss just scraped off the bottom of his/her shoe, I tend to leave. So do most people who have any self-esteem at all, and the ones who don't I wouldn't really want working for me anyway.

    Ironically, I probably have fewer issues with my aides (I'm a charge nurse in LTC) than the hard-liners............I rarely have problems getting them to do their work, seldom have to deal with call-ins, and almost never have trouble finding them when they are needed. All I do is treat them like adults and expect them to act that way. I always assume that a problem is FIRST one of education, not laziness, and I will teach an aide how to do the task properly or review it with them. (After that, if they still aren't "getting it" I do a verbal counseling privately with the employee, then a write-up if necessary.)

    OK, so it doesn't always make the middle and upper management happy that I don't write up everyone for the smallest offense...........my ONLY concern is that the work gets done and that it's done right. It's funny, how even aides I've never worked with will beg to be assigned to my unit, but I think it's because I treat everyone respectfully and don't act like they are "beneath" me.
  4. by   Onthegonurse
    Thanks VivaLasViejas : that is exactly how I feel, glad to hear that my thoughts are justified. I have to admit, I still smile when I remember her comment that I was "too nice"; she is the sort of leader that does bully and intimidate the staff. Guess I will just wait and see if I get the job, I am happy with my leadership style and I would not be comfortable being a jerk just to get the job.
    Thanks again for the input Viva.
  5. by   Nascar nurse
    I just said to my DON today that I think one of her best qualities is that she always treats staff with kindness.. doesn't matter how badly they have screwed up! She just has a wonderful way of making them see the errors of their ways, showing them how to correct the issue and not making them feel like the scum of the earth for it. She is "tough", she does make people do things right, she does hold people accountable, but she is not mean. As a result, she gets lots of respect and staff seem to want to work harder to please her and make her proud. She has been ADON for years and DON for about 4 months. Our retention level is already going up since she took the position.
  6. by   Onthegonurse
    Thanks Nascar for the comment, it is great to hear. At the end of the interview, I almost felt like I should be taking 'nasty courses' lol . I have worked for DONs like that and always found it was the best working experience.
  7. by   CapeCodMermaid
    First off I don't understand why some posters feel it necessary to always bash upper management in ANY post whatsoever.
    That said...I've been in nursing management for years...started as a nurse manager and worked my way up to DNS. Am I mean? No. Condescending? No. Disrespectful? No. Do I write people up if they do something wrong? Yes. Do they dislike me for it? No. Not all bosses are tyrants. If you are respectful and fair but at the same time maintain standards and have expectations you'll be fine.
  8. by   Onthegonurse
    Thanks for the input CapeCod, I really do appreciate all the responses.
  9. by   achot chavi
    I dont think the problem is with writing people up , and its important to know the difference between what is small and what is important,.. I think it is the attitude. Treating every staff member equally and with respect will create a positive work environment. However it will be your job to correct behaviors and attitudes, and make sure that the patients rights are protected.
    I keep a notebook for myself (each page is dedicated to a different staff member according to ABC) where I jot notes for myself on the small things that staff do that dont warrant a write up but help me notice patterns and repeated problems. This helps me decide what inservices need giving, what staff needs to be sent to a different unit and who doesn't work well with who.

    Just bear in mind, you are responsible for ALL that goes on in the building (even the stuff you might not be aware of) and your license can be on the line for serious offenses. You cant be Mr. Nice Guy all the time, but you can be fair.
  10. by   Onthegonurse
    Good idea achot chavi, I had the same thought myself - keeping track in a separate notebook the behaviors of each staff member.
  11. by   Orca
    The best DON I ever worked under mastered a technique I call the "velvet hammer". She had the knack of setting someone straight about something they did incorrectly and left them feeling good about themselves after the conversation. They had just been chewed out, but it was done in such a way that the employee was motivated to fix the problem. I'm still working on perfecting that myself.

    I have been a DON for almost two years. I am not a yeller and I don't drag people into the office all the time for things they did wrong. My corrective actions are generally brief and to the point. Tearing people apart serves no purpose. My goal is to correct the behavior, not to decimate the employee for doing something wrong. Early on, a couple of employees mistook my easy-going manner for a tolerance for sloppy work, but after corrective counseling that disappeared.

    I succeeded a DON who was volatile and erratic, and her standards were a moving target. When I arrived I found employees who had dealt with a lot of unnecessary pressure, and a lot of bad habits developed as they tried to adapt to the chaos. My department was pretty much at war with every other department in the facility because of my predecessor's forceful and dictatorial nature - even when dealing with other department heads. Things are much calmer now and our problems are relatively minor. My boss has remarked about how little attention he has to devote to my area now, when it was a constant source of aggravation for him before I arrived.

    Give new employees every opportunity, but if they are not up to snuff cut them loose. This is one area in which excessive kindness can burn you. I terminated a probationary RN last fall and her replacement is worlds better than the nurse I let go. You will save yourself a lot of aggravation later on if you don't hang onto an obviously substandard employee.

    You don't have to be hard core to be effective as an administrator. Treat people fairly and with respect, and show a willingness to help when the need arises. Lend your guidance when it is needed and stay out of the way when it isn't. Give your people credit for their talents and solicit their input. Use their ideas when they have good ones. Openly recognize them when they do well. The best managers utilize the talents of the people around them, and I try to do that every day.
    Last edit by Orca on Apr 30, '09
  12. by   expltcrn
    dear ms. onthegonurse - first of all, i think the hr person was out of line in using that kind of language with you (unless she is a personal acquaintance? - at least that is how it comes across). i have personally been called, "very nice" and believe i have an excellent reputation for having run magnet units and magnet facilities due to my belief in running a happy place. yes, the work is hard, and the days are long, but i owe it to the residents as well as the associates i work with, to have a harmonious ambiance for best results.

    i am easy to get along with, full of humor, always work with a smile - but i believe in sticking to standards of care, and holding everyone to the same expectation. leaders and managers come in different shapes and sizes, and based on current research, there is a time and place for every type.
    aggression does not translate to competence. perhaps the interviewer should not even be allowed to interview anymore!
    there is always room for improvement, and never anything wrong with self analysis. but rest assured, you do not have to be a tyrant. some of the best leaders, are "servant leaders". google that term and you will see what i mean. there are instances where i helped facilities who had low morale issues and ongoing care problems - and came in softly - worked on morale by working side by side with staff to see the concerns from their perspective, and identified needs and work processes, and helped fixed those first, get the tools and supplies they needed to get their jobs done - for them to be more effective before i felt i could come down with the big stick.
    good luck on your search for the right fit.
  13. by   Orca
    Aggression does not translate to competence.
    Some people are under the misconception that you must be a dictator to be a leader. This could not be more wrong. I am of the opinion that if your authority is always on display, you aren't using it properly. If I am doing my job the way I should be, I don't have to constantly do things to remind people I am tne DON.

    My predecessor was a dictator, and she tried to dictate even to people she had no authority over (i. e., other department heads). For that reason I had to spend my first couple of months on this job rebuilding relationships with other departments and showing them that we would come up with joint solutions rather than me calling them up and telling them what they were going to do. It has made for a much better work environment, and far more cooperation from other units. Being forceful has its place situationally, but as a primary leadership style it tends to become less effective as time goes along. It alienates a lot of people.
  14. by   Onthegonurse
    Thanks for the replies expltcrn and Orca - its nice to hear that my feelings are justified. Still haven't heard about the job, but perhaps it would be difficult working with that HR individual if she doesn't have any confidence in my abilities right from the get-go. Anyway, there are other opportunities, just feel bad if the unit does get an aggressive leader, they don't seem to last long and the girls on the floor seem to suffer.

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