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My Boss is a Bully

Nurse Beth   (226 Views 1 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,123 Visitors; 1,753 Posts


Dear Nurse Beth,

I'm being bullied by my charge nurse. I've applied for jobs and do well in the interview but my current charge nurse will say I'm excellent etc but I don't take feedback well. This was news to me no one mentioned it in my performance development review or throughout last year. So I want to move on but how can I get past having to use her as a reference. Theres other things I was a senior nurse but I'm not any longer . And when I've been walking out of her office she laughs. I was thinking about putting in my notice then asking my old boss. My hospital is the only one that is close and I have no options.

Dear Bullied by Charge Nurse,

Just to explain for our stateside readers, a senior nurse in the NHS is an experienced nurse with less authority than a charge nurse, but more than a staff nurse.

Some of this is hard to follow. You know that your supervising charge nurse told others after an interview that you do not take feedback well, but never told you? 

The only thing you can control here is yourself. 

You could arrange a meeting with your charge nurse. Politely ask about the "doesn't take feedback well" and ask her how you can improve on that. Make sure you understand her concerns and ask clarifying examples of your behavior if you don't "Can you give me an example of when I did not take feedback well?" and of the expectations "Can you give me an example of how I should have responded?" Throughout, your demeanor should be one of thoughtful consideration.

Be sure to control your emotions, because you must not get defensive. Most important, end the meeting  with a measurable goal. For example, the two of should meet in one week to discuss your progress. In the meantime, you will thank others for their feedback and she will let you know the same day if you you are resisting constructive feedback.

The goal setting is to your advantage. If a performance goal is not set, then you can never meet expectations. 

By the second or third meeting, tops, if she is bullying, she will have run out of criticism, and you can then ask "What else specifically can I do to improve my performance?" and "Thank you so much for your coaching."

This brings everything out in the open, and bullies stop bullying when they are confronted.

If she laughs when you leave the room, stop and turn around. "I'm sorry, I thought I heard you laughing. Is something funny?" 

As far as putting in your notice, it's usually advised to keep working until you land another job. It's easier to get employed when you're working. 

If this is truly a bullying situation, you now have some tools on how to deal with a bully and you will feel so empowered once she stops bullying you.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!


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