Hospital Nightmare

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about self-centered boss:

I work in a hospital and have a supervisor that seems to want everything her way and no one else matters. We work graveyard 12 hours shifts and my nightmare began in December, 2007, when Christmas was my holiday to work. So she could have a week with her family, she scheduled me 7 days in row without asking me and leaving me no holiday with my family.

Three weeks ago, she asked me if I needed any days off because she was going to do the new schedule, I asked for my birthday off which is in Feb. At that time, she told me that she, herself, would be willing to switch shifts with me so I could enjoy my birthday with my family. Later she sent me an email a few days ago saying she decided not to switch with me, and I would have to work it because she made plans. She doesn’t seem fair to me and this is the first time I ever asked for a day off. Any suggestions before I go bananas? I have never had to deal with such a situation like this in my 15 years on the job.

Signed, No Birthday Party

Dear No Birthday Party:

Supervisors have two major tasks: to create structure and to show consideration. Your supervisor appears to specialize in her first task and to be short on the second. Some supervisors behave as though they earned the right to make assignments, and they may have worked extra hard to get their jobs, and that they deserve special privilege. You provide one instance in which your supervisor apparently assigned you non-stop so that she could be with her family and a second instance in which she seems to honor your request for celebrating birthday off from work, then reneged. So before you go bananas and badmouth your supervisor either to family and co-workers or to her face, it is time for you to cool off and reflect on your boss-bossed relationship.

Ask yourself several questions and take time to answer them: · What kind of working relationship do you have with this supervisor? Do you communicate with her frequently? Do you talk about positive things that happen in the course of your work? Have you commended her on some thing she has done? If so how often? Have you suggested ways to cut wasted supplies, time, and effort? Have you talked with her about how your work group as a team and offered to ideas on how to make someone’s job, including hers, easier and or more effective? Are you seen as a cheerleader or a complainer?

Do you think of her as the enemy? Possibly you can answer each of these questions in the affirmative; however, I predict that you cannot because you say in the first example that she assigned you seven days in a row “without asking me.” Whether we admit it or not, our workplaces and assignments hinge on developing positive, frequent two-way communication between those who make assignments and those given assignments. Ideally, you are seen as a responsible employee and cheerleader. Hopefully you make your supervisor’s job easier, and treat her with respect.

Hopefully you communicate with her about both the good and the bad. My first suggestion for not going bananas is to avoid gossip about your supervisor and to speak to her about your needs and wants. Walk in her shoes to understand the pressures she has on making assignments, but do not hesitate to say that you want to have assignments made fairly and with consideration for your and others’ needs. · It is normal to first think of one’s own needs and wants. You have come to the conclusion that your supervisor is very good at that and fails to realize that those she manages also have needs and wants.

One of the reasons unions have been organized is that those given assignments want them to be fairly assigned. Consequently, policies have developed of who does what, when, and how much. Even if you work in a non-unionized hospital, I expect that certain rules be in place about fairness of assignments. If not, possibly it is past time to get a bossed-boss committee working on this issue. You are fortunate that you have worked for nearly 15 years without feeling that your supervisor has assigned you unfairly. So do you want these two recent examples (or others you do not mention) to sour your supervisor-supervised relationship? I’m sure you want both an efficient and a caring supervisor and no doubt your supervisor want the same from those she manages. Therefore, you now have an opportunity to reflect on things she within her that she might do to make you happy and you might also focus on what you might do to make her aware of those without coming across as disgruntled.

A good coach not only trains and makes assignments for those on his/her team, but also has regular skull sessions on what we did well and what me might do better. Sometimes the players must initiate such sessions if the coach has failed to have frequent skull sessions. Possibly your work group does not have skull sessions and you have only been told what to do. Please feel free to get back to us after you have weighed these thoughts, or if you reject them and do go bananas. Tell us what works and what failed. What might my signature sentence mean in your work situation: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS?

William Gorden