By Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, Phd
Finding the right nursing job includes finding a manager that will help you grow, develop, and support your career goals.
There is a saying that people leave their managers and not their jobs and to have success in your career may mean you want to circulate your resume in order to find the best fit for you. This means you have to know what you want and need in the area of support.
Here are 10 warning signs you may be working with the wrong manager:
- You never hear from your manager prior to your performance reviews. Over 75% of performance problems can be improved with proper feedback and less than 33% of the time, feedback is provided.
- You have no idea what they want. This can be worse than not having feedback at all. When a manager says, “I do not like how you did that,” you really have no way of knowing what they really mean. Make sure to ask for clarification. Review your job description and ask for your manager to specify what parts of your job responsibilities are most important to them. It could be they are focused on patient safety and you have an interest in health literacy. Knowing what they want gives you the advantage of focusing your efforts for the greatest gain.
- It is their way or the highway. This is a problem for many nurses. Job satisfaction comes with autonomy and the opportunity to solve your own problems as they show up on the job. When a manager consistently tells you what and how to do something, employees quickly turn off their own creativity; more than likely, with an increase in mistakes.
A nurse who is practicing for 7 years shared a story about his experience on a new unit. His Clinical Specialist was a micro-manager. She told him to give this medication immediately because of incoming admissions. She had poured the med. This went against his better judgment but because he knew she would have a fit, he gave it, to the wrong patient. She was extremely apologetic however the “error” was on him. Do not compromise your judgment for the sake of status quo.
- Your manager wants you to figure it out. The opposite of micro-managing is to not manage at all and letting everyone figure it out for themselves. This happens quite a bit leaving the power position to go to the most domineering individuals on the unit. Everyone needs to know the manager is in charge and when needed will make those tough decisions.
- You could not recognize them if your life depended on it. If your manager hides behind email or a closed door, having a relationship with your manager will be impossible. Communication and trust is the foundation of a great working relationship.
Suggestion for managers: Time is an important commodity and getting around to all your staff can be time consuming. Why not use technology and set up a short video. Most iPhones take excellent video. Take 2-3 minutes every week and share what is going on. You may also want to share something personal about yourself; if you just started juicing, kickboxing, celebrated an anniversary or a milestone with your children. Interview them, show images along your morning run, and share something of yourself in order to make the connection with your staff.
Suggestion for staff: Make a short video on your unit of a new initiative, gratitude board in the break room, more efficient way to give report, a snippet of rounds, and just a friendly hello from everyone on the unit. You may even want to say thanks and express appreciation; managers are people too!
- The way out the door is faster than up. If you have a manager that makes any attempt for you to advance your skills difficult, it will be hard to boost your resume. Managers can feel threatened by qualified staff members who want to move up the ladder and may indirectly thwart your efforts to move forward. This is really short sighted on the manager’s part because any manager that turns our qualified leaders actually looks really good to their higher ups given the ongoing need for good talent in any organization.
- Lack of training. Being able to do a job well requires the right training. Often it takes the manager to assess the need for training based on performance and outcomes. This relates to the lack of feedback. While every employee really should do their own assessment of what they need to do well and then make the request of their manager, the manager should also be on the lookout for staff that need training and set up opportunities to make this happen.
- When the manager has obvious “favorites.” Everyone has preferences in personality style, but when the manager consistently selects one particular individual for all the initiatives, opportunities for advancement, or other assignments that provide variety, the manager is sending a message to others they do not care about your skills or your future.
- When your manager routinely says, “I’ll think about it.” Obviously considering all sides of the problem/ situation is important however some managers hide behind this and never make a decision about what is the ideal way to go. Quickly, this can be frustrating if you are looking for a course of action to solve a problem.
- When your manager over reacts or criticizes you in front of others. This is a toxic behavior and is an indication you want to find a new place to work. Quickly this will diminish your self-esteem, leading to resentment and stagnation.
Knowing what you want in the way of workplace is key and will help you avoid a poor manager. What type of opportunities are you looking for in the workplace? What are your career goals? Evaluate the workplace, ask questions, find out the management style, review a performance appraisal, ask about turnover, and see if you can build a relationship with your new manager.
Enjoy the opportunity to find a place that truly supports and honors you!