Nurse Accused of Gossiping

Nurses General Nursing

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Nurse Accused of Gossiping

I have worked in my unit for 5 yrs now. I have done many projects and led a committee in our unit. One of my biggest projects was the performance improvement project that everyone in my unit approved, liked, and has been using.

I did a survey for it to involve everyone. I'm leading a huge committee where I do monthly meetings with stakeholders and unit staff. I  precept new nurses. I always come to work on time, with no call-outs, and no written warnings.

We do peer review in our unit every yr. This a unique unit event where we anonymously review the staff assigned to us by answering questions and doing a free-form comment. After 5 yrs someone said a negative review about me which is that I gossip.

My manager took it seriously and made it a reason for me not to get a promotion. I asked HR if peer review will affect my record or going up the ladder and they said no because it is only for our unit. When I mentioned to my manager my desire to be rn3 she said I can't get it because I do not have emotional intelligence because of gossiping and I am not famous like the new nurse she just hired. So I did not let her comment affect me, I paid and attended an emotional intelligence class and submitted the class certificate together with my rn3 application.

I had my yearly evaluation today. One from our LCN, which was a very good evaluation and she said I will get my rn3. For my manager, she said all those good things I have done for the unit and she said I am a good nurse but I am not mature and need to grow up because of the gossiping.

I asked her before the evaluation if she has proof that I do it and all she said was there were people who agree when she asked them. Today I asked her who are those people who said that I gossip, what was content, what are the proof and why aren't talking to me directly. And then she said there were no people, she was just basing it on the anonymous peer review. She is confusing me.

During the evaluation, she kinda confirm I will not be promoted but that I need to do another project for the unit. I was speechless and could not think. What she said to me about not having emotional intelligence, being immature, and that I gossip is now affecting my mental health and motivation at work. What should I do? Should I go to HR? Should I just leave? I love the staff nurses and doctors I work with and I love my patients. I need guidance. I do not want to do a lot of things in the unit and not be paid for it. 

JKL33

6,694 Posts

abu123 said:

Today I asked her who are those people who said that I gossip, what was content, what are the proof and why aren't talking to me directly. And then she said there were no people, she was just basing it on the anonymous peer review. She is confusing me.

Don't be confused, she has directly lied to you and is sabotaging your chances of moving up the clinical ladder.

It is noteworthy that you tried to immediately take a what you saw as (and conventional wisdom would see as) a positive step in response to the initial accusation regarding emotional intelligence. There is a whole discussion possible on whether there is any truth to the gossip accusation; I think that's less relevant given that you already took an exceptional step (IMO) to show that you cared about the comment, whether you believed there was any grain of truth to it or not. So, instead...what this situation illustrates is that anonymous peer review certainly can be weaponized either by peers or by emotionally immature and unprofessional managers who have no intention of making plans to help people grow as a result of the peer comments but just use them punitively.

There are various ways you could proceed. If it were me I would be taking a step back, there's no way I would lift a finger on another project. I would go back to (only) taking the best care of patients that I can; I would keep all interactions strictly professional until I could observe how things evolve and figure out next steps.

Sorry this is happening to you.

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,425 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

When personalities are put before principles, murky and confusing things can occur.

It is a fact that there are those who base their decisions on felt emotions and not objective facts. The objective facts, in this case, are that needed interventions were superbly met and the subjective response to an appropriate request was denied as a result of subjective feelings and beliefs, along with hearsay.

There will always be, in every job and walk of life, those who, for one reason or another, make determinations based solely on their subjective beliefs. Usually, those in power who behave this way have low self-esteems, feel threatened, and have a need to prove their power.

Requesting "proof" of the alleged accusations was a good tact to take in this matter, abu123, because it cut an Achilles' tendon and a poor and inappropriate response was given.

When faced with similar circumstances, I have objectively documented & submitted a factual report, thereby requesting a review and redetermination. If the review was done within the organization, most of the times the original decision was upheld. However, if outside agencies were utilized, a more fair decision was made.

I echo JKL's "exceptional step" kudo, for it is evidence of righteous concern and emotional maturity.

Be at peace with yourself for your stellar work and actions, abu123. For happiness comes not from what others say or do, or what goes on around you, but from being at peace with yourself.

You have done a WONDERFUL  job. Never go to HR. They are not your friend.  Take a month off.. rethink this  thing called nursing.

Emergent, RN

4,226 Posts

Specializes in ER.

Anonymous peer reviews are useless, in my opinion. They only stir up controversy. Those who are criticized will then speculate about who stabbed them in the back, and many times those guesses are wrong. Someone else then gets blamed, who had nothing to do with it.

This type of HR scheme is just poison, in my opinion. A hospital that I worked in for a long time tried them one year, and there was a lot of backlash against it.

JKL33

6,694 Posts

Thankfully I have never been forced to participate in this. If I were asked to review a coworker, I would go right straight to them and tell them I had been assigned to provide the peer review and we could talk about some hopefully reasonable things to comment on.  Seems like a good way to handle it, cut out the BS. Then I'd let the manager know that's how we handled it [so good luck with shenanigans and making stuff up and blaming it on the reviewer].

klone, MSN, RN

14,757 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership.

Your manager is showing really poor leadership skills. One of the number one rules of performance evaluations is that the evaluation is NEVER the first time one should be discussing a performance or behavioral concern. If it's on the evaluation, it's something that should have already been discussed, met about, coached on, etc. Nobody should ever be blind-sided in an annual evaluation. That is so unfair, simply by nature of annual evals, which are a permanent part of your personnel file. I commend you for taking the feedback you received (however accurate it is or isn't) and using it to improve yourself. 

I just reread your OP again. This is so frustrating to me. I honestly want to have a closed-door meeting with your manager and say "THIS is how you kill staff morale and get good people to not want to do ANYTHING." What she did is SO unfair. Even if there is a nugget of truth to what she is saying, and you DO gossip, it's clear that you don't understand where this feedback is coming from. How the *** are you supposed to improve if you have no idea what you're doing wrong??

Honestly, if I were interested in trying to engage, if I were interested in trying to salvage this relationship and this job, that is the approach I would take. I would request a formal meeting with her (and maybe invite the LCN or someone else within the department who is in a leadership role, always good to have a witness) and then say that you are seeking clarity in an effort to improve and demonstrate that you do have emotional intelligence, and you would like specific examples of this "gossiping" because you are honestly unclear about where this is coming from, and whether this was a one-time occurrence or an ongoing thing. Put her on the spot, and hold her hand to the fire. Tell her that if it's going to be something documented in your permanent personnel file, and/or used to determine promotional opportunities, you deserve to be given specific examples of this behavior.

If she refuses after that, then my advice is to find a different department, because your manager is an asshole and an incompetent leader, and I would not want to work for a leader who is bad at leading.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,847 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.
JKL33 said:

d. If it were me I would be taking a step back, there's no way I would lift a finger on another project. I would go back to (only) taking the best care of patients that I can; I would keep all interactions strictly professional until I could observe how things evolve and figure out next steps.

Good advice.  I wouldn't start a new project and would lay low, and continue to work hard with the patients.  

subee, MSN, CRNA

5,184 Posts

Specializes in CRNA, Finally retired.
klone said:

Your manager is showing really poor leadership skills. One of the number one rules of performance evaluations is that the evaluation is NEVER the first time one should be discussing a performance or behavioral concern. If it's on the evaluation, it's something that should have already been discussed, met about, coached on, etc. Nobody should ever be blind-sided in an annual evaluation. That is so unfair, simply by nature of annual evals, which are a permanent part of your personnel file. I commend you for taking the feedback you received (however accurate it is or isn't) and using it to improve yourself. 

I just reread your OP again. This is so frustrating to me. I honestly want to have a closed-door meeting with your manager and say "THIS is how you kill staff morale and get good people to not want to do ANYTHING." What she did is SO unfair. Even if there is a nugget of truth to what she is saying, and you DO gossip, it's clear that you don't understand where this feedback is coming from. How the *** are you supposed to improve if you have no idea what you're doing wrong??

Honestly, if I were interested in trying to engage, if I were interested in trying to salvage this relationship and this job, that is the approach I would take. I would request a formal meeting with her (and maybe invite the LCN or someone else within the department who is in a leadership role, always good to have a witness) and then say that you are seeking clarity in an effort to improve and demonstrate that you do have emotional intelligence, and you would like specific examples of this "gossiping" because you are honestly unclear about where this is coming from, and whether this was a one-time occurrence or an ongoing thing. Put her on the spot, and hold her hand to the fire. Tell her that if it's going to be something documented in your permanent personnel file, and/or used to determine promotional opportunities, you deserve to be given specific examples of this behavior.

If she refuses after that, then my advice is to find a different department, because your manager is an asshole and an incompetent leader, and I would not want to work for a leader who is bad at leading.

Anonymous reviews are just ....gossip.

klone, MSN, RN

14,757 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership.
subee said:

Anonymous reviews are just ....gossip.

To be fair, they may not be anonymous to the manager. 

Specializes in Occupational Health.
JKL33 said:

There are various ways you could proceed. If it were me I would be taking a step back, there's no way I would lift a finger on another project. I would go back to (only) taking the best care of patients that I can; I would keep all interactions strictly professional until I could observe how things evolve and figure out next steps.

This

I dealt with a manager who wrote me up several times for attitude. She never sent them to HR but kept them in my folder in her office. When she left an interim came and talked to me about my attitude and the notes left by the prior manager. I worked harder on my attitude toward this director, as I had more respect for her. Then the permanent director came. Then the nightmares began. She would write me up one day, then apologize the next day for doing so. This went on for months. She threw all my folder notes in my face and reminded me often about them. She would hide and listen to us early nurses talk before patients arrived, then call me into her office. This went on for a long time. I didn't want to leave my job as I loved my co-workers. I finally decided after prayer and looking at options, I would leave.  I was given the option to follow a "charge nurse" protocol. I turned in my resignation after listening to those options and "training" I had been a charge nurse for 15 years.  I had a great relationship with doctors and coworkers. I worked hard. It nearly killed me. I left and it was the best decision I ever made. We can't let others dictate who we are. You have to take care of yourself. Good luck.

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