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How to deal with an unreasonable boss


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Not all managers are like me.  Some are mean, arrogant and don’t care about their staff.  That is not me…..I am better than that.

There will come a time, at least once, in your career where you will hit a wall when you are trying to deal with your manager.  They don’t listen to what you have to say, they don’t want to work with you or they are just completely unreasonable.  When that happens, what do you do?

Here are my suggestions, these would work with me.

First, before you go talk to them make sure you have all your ducks in a row. What I mean is, be ready to present you case. If your attendance has been perfect, show them. If you have been a team player by picking up extra shifts when there are holes, or you have joined committees, be ready to talk about that. On the flip side, if you call off a lot or are not engaged in the unit, be ready to explain.

Second, be honest and straightforward. If you need time off to go somewhere silly like a Star Trek convention, don’t lie and say you are going to your grandma’s funeral, because when she really dies or already has, you will have to explain that.

Third, be prepared for questions or even an answer of “NO!”.  Don’t get tongue-tied and start stuttering, and don’t start crying. Nothing is worse in my office than when somebody cries.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask why. Maybe there is something you don’t know about that the manager does know. Maybe a couple other nurses are on FMLA, maybe there is a new process implementation that week and they really need your leadership.  Found out what you can do to help them out as well.

If you do get a “no”, where do you go from there? Well, you have a couple of options: Try talking to them again, and make an even better case. Or, take your argument to the next level. But, be extra prepared for this course of action. The Director or CNO will probably back up the manager’s decision, just like your manager should back you up on a conflict.  So, you need to have a better presentation to give the next level of management if you want to get what you want.

Be prepared and be honest. When it comes to my staff I will listen to everyone’s case, and if that nurse is willing to help me out when needed, I will work with them.

But then again, I am awesome (that’s not arrogant, is it?).

Rob Cameron
Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed. Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university. Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.

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