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New Manager, HELP!

Career   (151 Views 4 Comments)
by stimmerman stimmerman (New Member) New Member

stimmerman has 6 years experience and works as a Registered Nurse.

653 Visitors; 3 Posts


I was recently promoted as a manager to the medical surgical unit at my current place of employment. I work at a critical access hospital and I love it and love the people I work with. I am currently going back to school online to get my BSN to further my career and education. My problem is, I am finding it difficult to step into this role. I feel I will do well, but it's quite the struggle right now. Furthermore, my previous boss is now my coworker and she can be very overbearing and negative at times. She used to manage 2 departments and I took over MedSurg from her. I would think this would be a relief, but in turn she acts as though I don't know what I am doing, which this side of things is new to me. She also double checks my decisions and offers her opinions without asking, very loudly. The oddest thing of this situation is, she is also my neighbor. I tend to find it best to avoid her and do what I feel I need to. I do not ask her advice, which is bad because she has been here such a long time. I refer to my CNO, which is wonderful. Just curious if this is normal like starting any new job? Or if I just made a HUGE mistake!? Thanks!

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and works as a Nursing Professional Development + Academic Facult.

5 Followers; 57,830 Visitors; 13,016 Posts

Here is what I would do in your situation.

I would have a private talk with this former boss and tell her:

1. I really appreciate your advice and other efforts to help me, but I need for you to give me that advice in private.   When staff members see/hear you telling me what to do, it undermines my relationship with them.   If you think back to when you first became a manager, I'm sure you will see how your efforts to put your own ideas out there can hurt me.

2. If you have further suggestions to offer, please feel free to come to me privately and offer them.   I will listen to you and take your ideas seriously.   However, I will also listen to other people's ideas.  So I might not always do everything the exact way you recommend.   I need to make my own choices based on my own assessment of a situation and the recommendations of many people, not just you.

I would also talk with the CNO about the situation and ask for advice about this situation.   Having her support with your efforts to manage this awkward situation will be important.   Don't go to the CNO with a helpless attitude --but with a professional one that conveys that you have some ideas as to how to handle it, but want to be aware of it and would be happy to receive some advice.   Avoiding this former boss and/or this situation will not help.

Good luck!

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45,311 Visitors; 5,010 Posts

It's freq a tough situation when someone takes on a new role/position and the previous holder is still in the picture. So what you're experiencing is NOT unusual.

I would have one big suggestion - keep work AT WORK and don't comingle work into neighborly neighborly-ness.

Good advice from previous poster, llg

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9 Followers; 22,447 Visitors; 2,950 Posts

Maybe the stakes are higher in your position (than dealing with problematic peers at the staff level), but what about handling this the way a lot of similar stuff can be handled: By not doing anything that lends energy to it. Fail to react. Don't be the wind in the sails. Etc.



IMO it's quite likely that the underlying theme here is validation (hers), because these are (generally) the behaviors of insecure people.

Think about this situation from her perspective. She has been doing a ginormous job. In fact, she has been trying to do the job of two (or probably more) people. That in itself is often sort of dissatisfying in that it's just too difficult to do everything as well as it could be done by the proper amount of people. There are loose ends and things falling through the cracks and things that had to be done in a "good enough" manner instead of top-notch. There is plenty that others can come along and critique. Being relieved of all of that pressure is a good thing, but may feel like failure/defeat anyway.

So....respond neutrally/pleasantly to her. When she makes one of her loud suggestions, say, "interesting idea" or "that's not a bad idea" or "thanks for the suggestion" or "I wondered about that, as well." Look neutrally contemplative. If she says something most people would consider provocative, maintain your game face as if you don't even possess the ability to take things personally.

If you spend time in the same vicinity and have the opportunity (without forcing it or appearing obvious) do some bridge-building -- pleasant general convo. Ask about her experiences as a manager. Find a couple of things to compliment (sincerely) regarding her former leadership in your unit. Etc., etc. Meanwhile, keep going about your way.

If you are steadfast in this approach, there's a good chance she will see that you don't intend to engage in a competition, and thus she will see there is no threat. She will see you aren't there to critique everything she did and that the goal of your life isn't to show her up.

You can win people over this way (or at the very least neutralize/limit their negative effect).

Good luck ~

(Don't let the insecurities of being in a new position lead to an overreaction here 🙂)


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