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Placed on Performance Improvement Plan - What should I do?

Nurse Beth   (37,800 Views 138 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; 226,361 Visitors; 1,757 Posts

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Recently I have been called into the manager's office for not being fast enough, for being rude or condescending” to the OB techs, and for having an attitude” about not getting my lunch breaks/breaks. I can understand being slow at a new job, as this is only normal during my 4th and 5th months off of orientation. That said, I made a conscious effort to increase my speed and I have seen improvement and can recover my delivered patients and transfer them faster now.

As for the attitude” about not getting my break, I spoke directly to one of the CRNs and asked her if I was offensive when I did not get my breaks. She remembered the day that I did not receive breaks and she informed me that she did not perceive me as having an attitude. So I do not know where management is getting this impression about me.

Speeding up my pace of work is fixable and I have made improvements. However, the behavioral complaint against me is disheartening and unfounded. I am not a rude or condescending person by nature and have never been accused as such by previous employers ever in my life.

When I asked for an example of rude or condescending” behavior, the management never gave me a direct answer or example. How am I to fix this perceived problem when there is no evidence of the type of behavior they perceive to be rude or condescending?

Unfortunately, the situation gets worse. I was called into the office again for not intervening fast enough when a non-reassuring fetal heart rate tracing occurred. Now, this is a legitimate concern with evidence to prove that I was negligent that day. I got caught up in tasking/charting that I did not realize what was happening on the monitor. I understand my faults and have made the effort to be more vigilant and have had no further problems with this. Management has me on a Performance Improvement Plan” right now.

It is increasingly concerning to me that the management has me under a microscope and I am paranoid now, constantly looking over my shoulder. They keep finding things wrong with my performance; some complaints are unfounded and without proof.

I have decided to keep a log of every shift I work from now on. Listing my assignments, who was CRN that day, MDs worked with, etc. so that I can reflect on my day and to also keep watch of my practice.

Given the highly scrutinized work environment, should I start looking for a new job at this point, even though I am not in good standing? How should I address the issue regarding the unfounded behavioral complaints about me regarding the OB techs? Should I ask to speak to the techs who have complained about me so that I can apologize and clear the air?

Any help and insight on this situation would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you


Dear What To Do,

To save your job, you will have to change your tactic. It's natural to be on the defensive when you are taken by surprise but it won't help your case, even when the accusations are incorrect. Don't ask for examples, as your manager is not going to divulge names.

Likewise, do not query the OB techs. You will not get a helpful response, and it's not likely anyone will own up. Do reach out to them, express thanks when they have helped, ask their opinion/advice, ask for their help- these will all help to forge positive relationships.

What you need to do is ask your manager for her help.

I've had some time to think about our conversation, and would like to meet with you.”

At the meeting, you can ask,

What do you think would help me most to turn around the perception that I am rude and condescending? This is not how I want to be seen by my co-workers.”

and What specifically do you need to see in my work performance to indicate positive change?”

Gain closure and agreement. I would like feedback from you to make sure I'm on the right track. Can we meet in one week to see how I'm doing?”

Does your Performance Improvement Plan include measurable goals with time lines? If the action plan is not clearly actionable, you are at a disadvantage. Ask for clarification and SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals.

Unfortunately in nursing, not getting breaks is often the norm. It's crazy-making if the message is Don't get upset if we do not provide your breaks.” While it's wrong and even illegal, at this point you have to be careful how you go about addressing it. You can be right, and still lose your job if you have an at-will employment agreement. If you have a union, contact your union representative.

Regarding looking for another job, if you feel the writing's on the wall, it may be a good strategy. If you want to stay and make it work, work closely with your managers and co-workers alike, and you should be able to turn it around.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

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Edited by Joe V

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Roy Hanson has 36 years experience and works as a Retired.

6,105 Visitors; 205 Posts

you been there how long...6 months..I would have given you 3. If you hate your job, get out. Go to where your love for nursing is.

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KatieMI has 6 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and works as a Internal Medicine.

1 Article; 40,869 Visitors; 2,321 Posts

I tried to do, not once but twice, precisely what is suggested above, and those actions only escalated situation.

When people want others to do what they want, they got to explain, clearly and fully, what exactly is desired. Time management is one thing that can and should be addressed, but if there are talks on the level of "attitude"with no names and no particular details, then it is time to get the heck outta there now. "Attitude" cannot be put under "smart" criteria as it is totally subjective to begin with.

I wish I would be wrong but IMHO where "attitude" and other like sins are mentioned, there the end begins, and it is easier to minimize losses than to fight.

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whichone'spink has 3 years experience and works as a RN.

24,444 Visitors; 1,473 Posts

Don't bother. Resign now because eventually you will be let go. I was also in a so-called dream job in the ER but then 8 months out I had a critical patient (after not even having any during orientation, by design I think), and it went well. However, I didn't know I could push RSI meds in an emergency. I was reassured I could and I did, fast. The whole thing only took a few seconds. But once you end up on the s*** list even if it was a small slight or a small mistake, it's downhill. Resign now and find another job.

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JayHanig has 18 years experience and works as a Retired RN.

3,610 Visitors; 135 Posts

The writing is one the wall. Once you get on their list, they start second guessing and documenting everything in preparation for kicking you to the curb. Don't be too down on yourself; if that place was worth a damn they'd not hit you with vague and nebulous complaints. Get out before they have a chance to can you; be sure to offer minimum notice and leave on a professional note so you don't burn bridges.

This becomes clearer once you realize that the worst managers don't just live by the sword, they die by the sword too. It's just a matter of time before her day comes and the same thing that happened to you happens to her. The next manager might be more agreeable; there may be a general housecleaning of recalcitrant staff between now and then.

But in the meanwhile find someplace that doesn't suck and build some resume time.

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1,985 Visitors; 41 Posts

I had a situation similar to yours and found it came from a co-worker who had come to the unit along with the manager and had taken a dislike to me on my first day because I was friendly with someone she hated from her last job. I tried to be nice to her but she wasn't having it, and she tattled to the manager constantly about real and imagined slights. I had to work with her two nights a week because she worked weekends and I worked a semi-weekend shift. It never got any better, but I didn't have any problems with the other people I worked with so I guess everyone else decided it was her and not me.

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hollyvk has 25 years experience and works as a Healthcare Informatics.

2,501 Visitors; 120 Posts

Dear L&D Nurse,

Unfortunately a Performance Improvement Plan (a "PIP" in HR jargon) is management speak for "you're not a fit here and you need to go." So gather up your dignity and find yourself another position, probably at another facility as you may be restricted from transferring at your current facility with your PIP status. If you linger, hoping against hope that things will work out for you, you most certainly will be terminated. And then you may find it very difficult to find another comparable position with a termination in your work history. Some facilities have a blanket "will not hire" prohibition for an RN who has been terminated from a previous position.

Good luck to you.

HollyVK RN, BSN, JD

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brandy1017 works as a RN.

37,067 Visitors; 2,244 Posts

I would cut my losses and find another job ASAP. Usually when they put someone on a performance plan it is simply a stepping stone in the process to fire them. I don't think it is worth the effort and stress to try to jump thru all the hoops to please them.

You would think they would have a fetal heart monitoring tech but I don't work OB so I don't know. Our manager got rid of tele techs years ago to save money and then put monitors in the hall and station with blaring alarms instead. Now we have stupid phones that ring non stop with artifact and other false alarms 99% of the time! Try talking to a Dr with alarms blaring!

You are the new kid on the block and seem to have found some enemies who happen to be pets to the manager my opinion anyway. When you start a new job you have to schmooze and be super nice to everyone lest someone decide to bully or complain about you.

Personally I think walking away and finding another job would be your best bet. Start fresh and put this behind you. Maybe you can fix things, I don't know, but is it worth all the stress and worry. If you lose you find yourself without a job and it is harder to get another job when you're not currently employed.

Edited by brandy1017

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Roy Hanson has 36 years experience and works as a Retired.

6,105 Visitors; 205 Posts

I agree with Brandy1017. walk away or run! PIP is a farce & never be done, its demeaning. Its the report card kids bring home. If you have a problem, have a private talk your boss..take the hint. Either pull up the bootstrap or leave. We had a nice balance on our med surg ward, some men and mostly women. Having all women, tends to for cliques. AKA: start looking

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SororAKS has 12 years experience as a ADN, RN and works as a ER, ICU/CCU.

1 Article; 12,988 Visitors; 720 Posts

I had the same thing happen to me. The "bad attitude" allegations could not be substantiated. No one I worked with believed them. I blamed myself, and felt such a sense of betrayal. I ended up leaving eventually anyhow.

Why I will advise to get out of there, don't blame yourself. It's truly not your fault. If they are unable to give you more than just nebulous nonspecific complaints with no dates and no actual documented incidents, they are not worth your time and tears.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

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billswife is a BSN, RN and works as a Bedside RN.

1 Article; 9,779 Visitors; 508 Posts

I think previous poster said it well: transfer as quickly as possible with appropriate notice. "Bad attitude " can mean lots of things. It can mean you work with a friend of the boss who doesn't like you for whatever reason. It can mean the unit clique has decided you don't fit in their "sisterhood". There are dozens of possibilities, and almost none of them are really your fault. Just go. Please let us know you are okay. Good luck!

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783 Visitors; 11 Posts

The advice here is pretty universal, and I support the general consensus. I have been in a few of these type situations, often due to a gender issue with anti-male managers. You need to abandon ship before the fantail starts sinking. This type of managerial style is geared toward only having in place those nurses who meet the personal proclivities of the person in charge. Your days are numbered, and you do NOT want to be looking for a job with a resume that has an employer who put you on the do not rehire list.

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