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Troubles as a new manager

Hi everyone I am a new nurse manager and I have found that I am constantly getting stabbed in the back and talked about by my subordinates. I have half that are happy and half it seems like are miserable and in my opinion should move on. I guess I was just wondering if other people in nurse management positions feel as lonely as I. I thought I had someone I could confide in and share frustrations with but she also ended up stabbing my in the back. My superiors think I am doing a great job but I still am losing sleep at night. Any suggestions?

First of all, yes I believe that there are always people that are not happy with anyone in authority over them. Secondly, I wouldn't confide in anyone but a superior or someone away from work. If your boss is saying that you are doing a good job and you feel that you are doing the best you can then good for you. You also need an outlet and you need to try to leave work at work. I know it is easier said than done. I tell myself the same speech all the time.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Has 20 years experience. Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

As the saying goes, "It's lonely at the top". Subordinates think all we do all day is sit behind a desk dreaming up busy-work projects and making it harder for them to do their "real" work. Our bosses think we should be on-call and willing to work 24/7/365, and get bent out of gear when our families need our attention ("Whaddaya MEAN, you're spending this Sunday with your grandkids? If we wanted you to have a family, we'd have assigned you one").

The answer, as someone already said, is to try to separate work and home, and to achieve balance between the two so that both remain vital and healthy. To be truthful, I haven't yet learned how to do this, but I'm trying.........oh, how I'm trying.

As for getting backstabbed by subordinates.......this is the single best reason not to confide in people at work. Your team needs guidance, assistance, and leadership from you......you are not there to be their friend. If you need to ask for advice, or just to vent, do it someplace where it can't come back to bite you in the butt later, because it will. Guaranteed.

Good luck, and welcome to the wild, wild world of nursing management!

Remember, you are not a manager to win a popularity contest. You are there to perform a job to the best of your abilities.

If you worked at this facility prior to taking the management job then you have extra stress. And your former peers will make it more difficult for you because they are jealous of you, even if they won't admit it.

You can't please everyone. I find it best not to have friends at work, particularly when you are a manager. Even if you confide in other managers, you will find that they will backstab you faster than the staff will if they think it will make them look better to admin or get them a promotion. Look to joining various nursing organizations and meeting nurses that you can be friends with from other facilities. Then you can help each other with ideas for staff motivation, etc. as well as commiserate on the bad days.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

Do you have an anti-gossip policy at your facility? Maybe a clinical nurse could do a poster on how gossip affects the workplace. Include gossip, bullying and other forms of lateral violence. Meanwhile, I wish you luck. These things are part of human nature whether we like it or not.

It does settle down. I went through similar things. Once you get your feet on the ground you will find that they will start to follow your vision. Rember your not there to be loved your there to lead. "You build it and People will come". (field of dreams)

Everything stated above is sooooo true!!! I made an unfortunate mistake of trusting my day charge nurse because I absolutely, positively had nobody to go to in order to vent. My DON was "too busy" to counsel me and I went to the nearest person that knew about the issues of the unit and what "we" were going through.

Lets just say, it was the biggest mistake in my management career thus far (just about one year into it) and I am ready to get out!!!

I am told that the first year of management is the "learning curve" that the new manager is to observe, and be counseled by their "upline". Let me just say that none of the counseling nor mentoring really happened and my DON gives me conflicting advice. I have spent this past year learning and stumbling on my own. Makes life as a new manager confusing. My year is almost up. I have learned a lot from my mistakes - however, I just don't see myself being able to lead this floor with a DON that gives conflicting advice and staff that are never satisfied. - Even though I am staffing them at a ratio of 1:5 max. I know this doesn't include acuity - however, after getting my data together (this takes time) - I was going to build that into the new budget. I have a business degree and I really wanted to help them out even more so - but at this point.....I am ready to just bail and leave it at the 1:5 ratio.:scrying:

The charge nurse that I trusted turned on me and my upline and has just turned staff against me and my decisions. Lets just say that unit meetings can get painful on the day shift.:banghead: :bluecry1:

Okay, I could go on and there is a lot of fall out from this. Right now - I'm just struggling with the thought of staying in nursing at all versus just crossing industries in the business sector and be done with it versus just giving the one month notice and move on to some place that management mentoring takes place. If there is any place that supports this.....

I wish I could elaborate more - but I think it is best to just end here. ~sigh~:(

SoxfanRN

Has 12 years experience. Specializes in Psych, education.

Everything stated above is sooooo true!!! I made an unfortunate mistake of trusting my day charge nurse because I absolutely, positively had nobody to go to in order to vent. My DON was "too busy" to counsel me and I went to the nearest person that knew about the issues of the unit and what "we" were going through.

Lets just say, it was the biggest mistake in my management career thus far (just about one year into it) and I am ready to get out!!!

I am told that the first year of management is the "learning curve" that the new manager is to observe, and be counseled by their "upline". Let me just say that none of the counseling nor mentoring really happened and my DON gives me conflicting advice. I have spent this past year learning and stumbling on my own. Makes life as a new manager confusing. My year is almost up. I have learned a lot from my mistakes - however, I just don't see myself being able to lead this floor with a DON that gives conflicting advice and staff that are never satisfied. - Even though I am staffing them at a ratio of 1:5 max. I know this doesn't include acuity - however, after getting my data together (this takes time) - I was going to build that into the new budget. I have a business degree and I really wanted to help them out even more so - but at this point.....I am ready to just bail and leave it at the 1:5 ratio.:scrying:

The charge nurse that I trusted turned on me and my upline and has just turned staff against me and my decisions. Lets just say that unit meetings can get painful on the day shift.:banghead: :bluecry1:

Okay, I could go on and there is a lot of fall out from this. Right now - I'm just struggling with the thought of staying in nursing at all versus just crossing industries in the business sector and be done with it versus just giving the one month notice and move on to some place that management mentoring takes place. If there is any place that supports this.....

I wish I could elaborate more - but I think it is best to just end here. ~sigh~:(

Do you have definitive proof that the charge nurse stabbed you in the back? If so, I would confront her since she, too, is in some position of power. Trust within a healthcare team has to flow in all directions.

Have some goals you want to achieve and stay with them. You are either working on your goals or someone else's. As far as advice from your DON, take what you need and leave the rest. If the DON feels you are doing a good job, then accept that and know you will have administration support if you need it.

Staff meetings should not be painful. If staff are being disrespectful, set limits. If staff are refusing to do what you want, charge them with insubordination. Staff ideas are great and should always be entertained, but in the end, you are in charge. You have to make decisions that are best for the patients ultimately. I used to half-joke with my staff telling them, "You understand that this is a dictatorship run by me, right?"

I always treated my staff like I treated my patients. More or less, the staff respected me because I tried to be absolutely fair. But, just like the patients, they had to do things they did not want to and got angry at me about it. I did not care if people get angry as long as they maintained their professionalism at work and respected my decision. If your decisions are patient-oriented, or for the greater good of everyone, the staff cannot argue with you. When presenting decisions or ideas to the staff, I always found it useful to explain the rationale behind them.

Some staff will not like you or respect you, ever. These are the folks that just don't like administration of any kind and will never like management. You will always have a couple. Oh well. Let them be miserable by themselves. If you stick to your guns and try to be fair, the rest of the staff will eventually start telling the nay-sayers to stop. Sometimes there is a hazing period, as well.

I have spent the last 3 years as a nurse manager in for a unit of nurses who telecommunte. One of the main things the nurses do is teaching in the community. Their positions are very rewarding and very low stress compared to hospital nursing. The average age is between 45-55. You would think they would be very happy and contented but they are not. I am not their direct manager but rather manage functions they perform. They have a direct staff manager who has also been at the unit approximately 3 years. The staff who are unhappy have been with the until since inception around 6 years ago. Before the new staff manager and I arrived, they had free reign of how they did their work and how much work they did. Things have changed in the past 3 years to that they are now accountable for their performance. Needless to say, those older staff who have been at the unit since the beginning have made managing them a living hell. I am completly burned from this group of women/nurses and even though I am in a master program for nursing administration, from this experience I know I do not want to directly supervise. So I guess my advice is make sure managing staff is what you really want to do, because as many have already stated, they wont love you, no matter what you do and you must be ok with that even thought you put everything you have into it. Not for me!

kp5491

Specializes in critical care, er, snf, federal nursing..

:smokin:
I have spent the last 3 years as a nurse manager in for a unit of nurses who telecommunte. One of the main things the nurses do is teaching in the community. Their positions are very rewarding and very low stress compared to hospital nursing. The average age is between 45-55. You would think they would be very happy and contented but they are not. I am not their direct manager but rather manage functions they perform. They have a direct staff manager who has also been at the unit approximately 3 years. The staff who are unhappy have been with the until since inception around 6 years ago. Before the new staff manager and I arrived, they had free reign of how they did their work and how much work they did. Things have changed in the past 3 years to that they are now accountable for their performance. Needless to say, those older staff who have been at the unit since the beginning have made managing them a living hell. I am completly burned from this group of women/nurses and even though I am in a master program for nursing administration, from this experience I know I do not want to directly supervise. So I guess my advice is make sure managing staff is what you really want to do, because as many have already stated, they wont love you, no matter what you do and you must be ok with that even thought you put everything you have into it. Not for me!

kp5491

Specializes in critical care, er, snf, federal nursing..

Enjoyed your response. You obviously have a skill and gift in management. Go for it! I am learning that the "Team" concept will always have problems with flexibility, adaptation and acceptance. That each person has individual learning curves and comfort levels. In the military environment your are told of the chain of command and how to use it and how to go above it in a respectful process. In the nursing field (which for some insane reason I have been in for 32 years ) you deal with gender, the race card, the back stabbers and disgruntled patients and insubordinate staff daily. I have an excellent DON who grooms me because she wants her staff to be the best they can be. Now that is the sign of a true leader. By following her guidance, I know my staff will provide great care and through peer pressure will eventually weed out the bad apples that don't belong there. Professional growth is a personal challenge. In today's nursing it is a must or you'll be gone quickly. The best in your endeavour towards your masters degree.

Redhead28

Has 14 years experience. Specializes in Peds, PACU, ICU, ER, OB, MED-Surg,.

Perhaps you can start by not thinking or calling the nurses that work on the floor as subordinates.... Just coming from a floor nurse for 14 years.

luvbug9956

Has 6 years experience. Specializes in Oncology.

It is lonely at the top! I have to say though, although this seems like a weak answer, sometimes it is time to move on. My first career in management was very difficult - I managed a group of unusually dysfunctional nurses and other staff. My director was very difficult to work for, and the organizational structure was also a barrier every time I turned around. I stuck it out for four years because I believed that this was just "being a manager". I was very successful in developing the unit, the program, and implemented some very great things - however, the inter and intrapersonal nonsense was, like you said, keeping me up at night and making me very unhappy.

I recently (4 months ago) obtained a management position in another hospital, and I am SO happy. You don't have to put up with disrespectful and dysfunctional staff, weak directors, and unsupportive organizations - there's lots out there and sometimes the grass IS greener. I know it seems like a cop-out, but it's the BEST decision I ever made. Just be sure to really weigh all your options - I was offered 3 other positions prior to taking this one, and none seemed like the right fit. I am now where I am meant to be, with respectful and hard-working staff, a FABULOUS director, and a supportive organization. Trust me, it ain't all sunshine and rainbows, but it is SO different from what I was assuming management should be.

kp5491

Specializes in critical care, er, snf, federal nursing..

Congrats on your new position. Have a great DON, HARD working cna' s and nurses who have run the unit for years who really don't like a real nurse manager on their turf. Have built up equity with several nurses but their remains one who is hell bent on making my day more challenging. The only time she shows respect towards me is when the DON is next to me. She is 100% ghetto style and just can't grab the concept of professional courtesy. My DON said she is burning her bridge at both ends. It's just a matter of time. She started to improve after I wrote her up but she is back to her usual decorum. Thanks for your I put. Will definitely keep in mind.

monkeelouise

Has 15 years experience. Specializes in Med-Surg,Critical Care, Radiology,GI.

I am a former nurse manager. NEVER,EVER,EVER CONFIDE in a subordinate. Many of the suggestions are right on in these posts.

1. Form relationships with other nurses outside of your facility.

2. Ask from feedback from your administrator. Don't ask too much, this may give the impression of indecisiveness.

3. 50% employee satisfaction is a pretty good average. The employees that will leave are going to leave regardless of any action on your part, good or bad. The complainers will stop when your present them with a plan of change for them to critique, and then implement THEIR suggestions. If they own it, they can't gripe.

Good luck with this. It is lonely at the top, but it is more rewarding to see the benefit of improvements made during your management stay.

By the way, I left upper management because I HATE desks, paperwork, and dressing for success. I took a position as night supervisor over a med-surg unit. Love it.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

once you are known to treat everyone fairly and consistently it will die down. They will never understand your job and so be it. They don't have to be your friends, just your co-workers

TucsonGINurse

Has 6 years experience. Specializes in GI.

I took my first management job in a small outpatient GI surgical center about 2 years ago. It is really tough. I have a staff of 10, not including PRN. I am so lonely at times that I cannot help but to vent to my staff even though I know that it is not the best idea. I get along well with them as well as everyone else in the facility. I do have to worry about the things that I vent about making it to the physician owner however. There is an office manager, but I learned my first few months to never confide things to the office manager. There seems to be a weird competition between the nursing manager and the office manager, so I got stabbed in the back several times. But I have out lasted 3 office managers so far. The issue is that I remain very lonely and have absolutely no support. The physicians know nothing about the actual managing of the facility. When I try to get help from the owner, he doesn't know anything and acts as if I am bothering him. I have no one to talk to about things other than my staff, which luckily I have a great staff. But I have had to terminate many over the last two years to get such a great staff. I think that the managing of the staff is the toughest part of my job. It would help to have another equal to share my frustrations with. I feel your frustrations.

jlcole45

Specializes in ER, ICU, Education.

I've been working as a NM now for 3 months and I hate it and have given notice. It is just not a good fit for me. I am an educator and mentor at heart and as a result I want to be on the floor with the staff all the time -- the staff love it but my bosses not so much. Not that they don't want me to bond with the staff but my other NM duties are neglected - the reports and such (which I hate doing anyway).

So I guess my question to you is this. Do you feel that management is a good fit for your skill set? I've realized very quickly that it is not for me and so I am making changes because I to was loosing sleep and working 60 hour weeks. I'm at a point in my life where I don't want or need this sort of stress.

Good luck.

tewdles, RN

Has 31 years experience. Specializes in PICU, NICU, L&D, Public Health, Hospice.

why are people miserable at work generally? often because they feel like an anonymous cog in a business machine...or because they do not understand how their job and performance affects people from the patient to the corporate office (they may not understand how they are "relevant" apart from the care they are delivering to an individual patient)...or because they do not have a clear idea how "success" would be measured for them. In nursing we acquire and analyze a great deal of data...often, very little of it reflects or impacts the "success" of the individual staff member.

miserable workers are generally the fault of ineffective and often miserable managers...

miserable managers are generally the fault of disconnected and uninterested administrative or executive leaders...

ANY business...from software development to health care...will suffer if they persistently have discontented and disengaged employees. Even if that business pays their staff top of the line wages...staff who have no sense that they are valuable as individuals, who do not understand the importance of their role within a larger team, and those who have no idea they CAN have a positive and satisfying work life will cause that business to have financial challenges...always.

managers must determine that their job success is measured by how they impact the work lives of their reporting employees...and how they impact the work life of the administrator they report to. So...first line managers must do the reports and payroll, and performance reviews, and..., and..., and... BUT they must also connect with their team...the employees who report directly to them, to help them understand their relevance and importance to the manager and to the team and to the organization.

This sounds like foo foo pie in the sky stuff...but seriously...if managers are not engaged with their staff the staff will ultimately end up miserable. Even people in high paying jobs/careers can suffer from this phenomenon...no job and no level of employment is exempt.

so...just my honest opinion based upon years of observation, action, and education...

yes, you can be personal and personable with your staff...you just can't make them your BFF, and secrets are best shared with BFFs outside of the work arena...

You Cannot under any circumstances make everyone happy! Don't even attempt this....and don't socialize or confide in anyone at work. Doing this places you in a situation where you could become potentially unprofessional and you don't want to do that. You are there to set an example for professionalism. I truly believe that nursing management is the toughest job you can have in nursing. I was an CCU/CVICU nurse for many years before entering nursing managment and the two levels of stress cannot be compared. Management is much more difficult. If you like it stick it out and remind yourself everyday you are a good nurse and doing a good job. If you find it is not a good fit, let it go, the stress of it never really goes away. I think you either learn to not let it effect you or move out of the role. You have to take care of yourself, no job is worth losing sleep over, crying over or losing yourself in. When it is all said and done, I have never held the hand of dying person who said they should have spent more time at work.....a little something to think about :)

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