Hah!!! "Weak Leadership" "Why wasn't it addressed definitively?" EXCELLENT QUESTION!!!
At our facility, the Nurse Manager of our Outpatient Clinic had a horrible reputation as a blatant bully for years, even from her days as a Charge Nurse on the floor of the hospital. My first encounter with her was on an evening shift in the ER and we were trying to move several admitted patients upstairs. I had to pick up some meds at the 7th floor Pharmacy and the ER Charge asked me to check the 5th floor on my way back, so she could call the Housekeeping Supervisor and expedite some rooms to be cleaned for our patients. As I approached the desk, I greeted the staff, and told them we were going to get them some help in getting their rooms ready. The Bully loudly admonished me in front of the staff, telling me I had no business being on their floor, and threatened to summon the Hospital Police to arrest me for trespassing if I took one more step in any direction but out. I'm very proud of the fact that I didn't laugh in her face, but I did turn around and return to the ER where I shared my encounter with my colleagues who chimed in with their own experiences of her bullying behavior.
Some years later, due to a natural disaster, our facility was destroyed and we had no more hospital. To my absolute dismay, the remnants of our staff were selected to provide care in several Outpatient Clinics. Horror of horrors, The Bully was now my direct supervisor as the Nurse Manager of the clinic. Every single employee, whether they were an RN, LPN, CNA, or even a clerk or housekeeper, cringed at the thought of having to deal with this woman on a daily basis for who knows how many years to come.
Her bullying was primarily in the manner she spoke to you.....in a tone and manner that one would address a disobedient child. Then there were the write-ups. She would call staff privately into her office (no witnesses!) and ambush them with a disciplinary action. Within moments of taking a seat, and not knowing why you've been summoned, she shoves a fully written reprimand of some sort across the desk, and says, "You need to sign this, or you're being suspended immediately!" The write-up could have been something that was charted WEEKS ago, and she discovered it during her review of your notes. You're now in a position that you have to sign the document before you can leave her office, and then have to go back in the patient's chart to see what may have been the issue, and then start the appeal process, which can take several more weeks. During that time, she can pull out any number of other issues and just keep piling it on to wear you out.
The Bully also seems to operate in a cycle, meaning that she focuses on one or two staff for a period of time, and then rotates off to someone else. This way, the entire staff is always kept on edge, wondering whose turn it is next. So, when "your turn" rolls around, you can at least take comfort in knowing that she'll be moving on to someone else in due time after she feels that you have been sufficiently terrorized.
One of our male LPNs was one of her favorite targets, possibly because he was homosexual, or that he was highly emotional and dramatic, or simply that he was such easy prey and she could reduce him to sobbing to the point where he couldn't function and had to go home sick for several days. After one of the episodes, where, even though the door was closed, we could hear their raised voices, and his anguished scream for her to "Please Just STOP!!!" She stormed out of his room, and he was curled on the floor sobbing. He left that day and never returned. Several weeks later, he killed himself.
Many of our staff successfully transferred to other clinics or just quit, or retired. Many staff, including myself, filed EEO complaints against her for the incessant bullying. I'll never forget my Arbitration Hearing where the EEO person told me that they were quite familiar with The Bully, but so far, nothing had been done, because in the course of their investigation, they found that she DID NOT DISCRIMINATE, and was EQUALLY abusive and abrasive to ALL the staff.....????!!!!!!
The stress of that environment sent me to the ER twice on the job with chest pains and palpitations, thankfully with no permanent damage. Another of my colleagues was not so fortunate. We'd had MANY conversations, sharing our frustrations of filing grievances with the employee's union and we both had filed EEO complaints against The Bully. He remarked more than once that the stress was going to kill him. After his fatal heart attack, I'm definitely convinced that it did.
The Bully did finally make good on her threat to me of calling the Hospital Police one day. It was in the last 15 minutes of my shift, and my nephew picked up my children from school, ages 12, 11, and 9. He dropped them off to me on his way to work, and I had them sitting quietly in my office with the door closed while I finished my charting. The Bully burst into my office, eyed my children playing their Game Boys, and yelled at me in front of my kids. "You aren't allowed to have your children accompany you to work!" I tried to explain that they only got dropped off a few minutes ago and were riding home with me. She stormed out, shouting, 'I'm calling the police!" My children were terrified, and started crying. Moments later, two Hospital Police Officers, armed and in uniform, came into my office, ordered me to shut down my computer, and escorted me and my children out of the building as they sobbed, begging the policemen to not take them to jail. All this from a woman who is routinely seen entertaining her own children in her office at various times of the day during work hours.
There was a movie a few years ago, "Horrible Bosses". They had a scene in there that gripped me by the throat. One of the lead characters had just been royally screwed by his boss, played by Kevin Spacey. The guy snapped, and snatched Kevin Spacey by the necktie, dragging him through the office while everyone cheered, and he threw him out the window of their office building. Of course, it turned out that it was only what he'd been THINKING of doing. MY thoughts were that the script writers were reading my mind!
My ordeals with The Bully ended after another hospitalization and extended recovery, during which she made every attempt (lying, fabricating, etc.) to have me dismissed or forced into retirement. All the while, I had three EEO complaints against her running simultaneously. At the Arbitration Hearing, they lumped all 3 into a single event and a deal was struck where I would finally be granted a transfer away from her; my disciplinary record would be cleared, and BEST of all, that no matter where I would be assigned in the future within the organization, The Bully would NEVER again be my direct reporting supervisor throughout the duration of my employment.
The employee's union continues to receive complaints, and to this day, The Bully remains in her position, and her subordinates continue to suffer her verbal abuse and administrative punishments. My children still vividly remember the incident with the Hospital Police, and they're now 18, 17 and 15. I haven't been back in the hospital or had any chest pains or sleepless nights since escaping with my life from that insufferable, suffocating environment. I do feel bad for my colleagues I left behind, and offer moral support whenever they reach out to me. I pray that one day, one of them doesn't snap and we all find out if The Bully can fly without her broom. God be with them all, and I especially do mean The Bully, because HE is the only one who can save her from herself.