Doctors Are Mean and Rude to Staff

Question:

I work at a mammography facility with mostly female employees. We’re talking 40 or more of us. There are 3 female radiologists there who interpret the mammograms. I’ve worked in another mammo facility with different doctors, so I am experienced with different environments. At this business, things are out of hand.

Two of the three doctors are continually unapproachable and hateful. They’ve gotten behind on their work and seem to be taking it out on all of us. It has become extremely difficult to communicate with them about job-related information. They bad mouth quite a few of the technologists behind their backs and to other technologists, creating an atmosphere of superiority among peers. They are not directly in charge of hiring or firing, but their opinions are strongly respected by administration.

Administration is aware of the situation and has had numerous complaints, but isn’t willing to take the bull by the horns. I’m sick of personally being in tears at work after a thorough butt-chewing by the doctors. Any suggestions?

Signed,

Had Enough


Answer:

Dear Had Enough:

You have three options–apart from the obvious one of leaving: Find a way to tolerate it, decide to confront it, or find a way to make work go smoothly enough that there are no reasons for the doctors to be angry and upset (or at least smoothly enough that everyone communicates to solve problems not just to vent or express anger).

I tend to think it might be useful to try a problem solving approach. Maybe you and others could find out what is responsible for the backlog or for errors, and work to improve things, in conjunction with the doctors or on your own.

There may be no errors, but your comments indicated the doctors become angry over something that is done or not done. For you, it might be the first problem in a week or more. But, if forty people have even one problem every week, that’s forty problems a week. Maybe you could ask one of the more approachable doctors to identify the top ten frustrations they deal with, then see if those can be worked on by the team. At the same time, maybe you can discuss how frustrating it is to the group to be working hard but to be treated rudely and with a lack of respect.

If that doesn’t work–and you may have to try several times to find a way to solve the problems–you might have to find a way to tolerate it, until some changes are made.

You may have to mentally put on a Teflon coating and let things slide off you, rather than getting emotional about them. You don’t respect the people who chew you out. You apparently don’t think they have evidence to fire you over the things they complain about. Others are aware of their unfairness. So, perhaps you can simply do as I have done in similar situations, and mentally tally your pay for the time you’re listening to an unfair rant!

You could also decide to band with coworkers to document specific unfair situations or rude comments and go directly to HR about them. If you have received good evaluations, you could point that out and be able to say that you are a good employee who is rapidly losing your motivation about work because of rude and disrespectful treatment.

Or, maybe you and others can offset some of this by supporting and helping each other. Don’t let the doctors stir up problems between you. Find a group with whom you can be close and support each other. Work to solve problems and make your sub-group the stars of the larger group. Then, reach out to others and help them do better work while encouraging them to be positive.

The best solution would be for the doctors to stop being rude and talk in a reasonable problem-solving manner, and for employees to do work so perfectly that everything goes smoothly and there are no reasons for upset. With that as a goal, take a leadership role in working from several diretions to improve things.

Best wishes to you in this challenging situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.