General Question

Summer1218's avatar

I need help with problems at my new job.

Asked by Summer1218 (58points) April 23rd, 2014

2 months ago I took a Director position in a hospital, leaving a job of 10 years. This is my first real leadership role. I found out that 7 people had quit from my new position and the hospital had a temporary employee until I was hired. Things have been okay until the fill in, who was overseeing me, left. Since then, I have been disrespected and treated poorly by my employees. The staff does not seem to see me as a boss. My assistant threw away my business cards, calendar and argues about her duties. It was suggested that I fire her but I wanted to have a discussion with her prior to this step. The discussion did not go well and she expressed she did not plan on changing her behaviors. Fast forward to today, I had to give her a final warning that she would be terminated with any further behavior issues. She has developed a clique of women who whisper about me. She has initiated a harassment claim against me. The work environment is so disheartening .People treat me terrible. I have discussed this with my boss but I don’t see how I am going to make it through with all these problems. I feel like there is something wrong with me the way the workplace has rejected me. Please advise.

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36 Answers

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
talljasperman's avatar

Talk to your union rep. Or supervisor if you are in management.

Response moderated
SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Are you certain that this person threw away your business cards and calendar? Did you witness the deed, or did she tell you that she’d done so? I’m trying to understand how you can be so sure that this one individual, and not someone else, is the nasty party. Your work environment is so hostile, just about anyone could have taken such mean, petty actions.

If her actions are known with certainty, I’d fire that person immediately. Such behavior is pure malice. You’ll never resolve this individual’s issues. Standing up to her, and firing her without hesitation, would send a good message to rest of your staff.

Then, I’d gather the remaining staff for a meeting about professional behavior. Make it clear that high school antics won’t be tolerated, and that the work environment’s about to change.

Judi's avatar

Follow through. Terminate her.

Cruiser's avatar

You are in a management position and you should no longer expect to be bosom buddies with your employees. You also have to lead by example and not hesitate to make those hard decisions that a manager needs to make. You have the option to reprimand this resisting employee or terminate them. Which ever decision you make…do so that reflects what your position demands of you and supervisors expect of you.

People treat you terribly because you have not yet earned their respect. The best advice I can offer is your employees all have problems…at work and at home. Try to get to know each and everyone of them and just listen. Listen to their problems and do what ever you can to show empathy and possibly lighten their load in any way you can. Showing you care about them will earn you their respect and once you have that, you will walk tall at your place of work.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Summer1218's avatar

Yes, when the business cards arrived, she grabbed them from me in front of other staff and said You can’t have these. Its a waste because everyone quits.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Summer1218 “Yes, when the business cards arrived, she grabbed them from me in front of other staff”

So, not only did she blatantly mistreat you, she undermined your authority in front of her colleagues. I hate to say it, but you missed your chance to fire her, on the spot, and earn the respect of your staff.

But, it’s seldom too late to fix a problem. Fire her, use her as an example of how you’ll deal with inappropriate behavior, and move forward. Yes, she’ll be the “sacrificial lamb” for all the bad doings in your office. Yes, she’s earned that treatment.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Response moderated
SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Summer1218 I wish you the best with all of this. You’re in a painful situation that no doubt haunts you during every waking hour (and possibly in your dreams). I truly hope things work out for you.

@SecondHandStoke I hope you’ll find the job of your dreams, and as quickly as possible. Once you get past this bad time in your life, maybe you’ll remember that your own struggles don’t negate or supercede those of another person.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Fire her or the others well respect you even less.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

This staff sounds just like the kids in the movie Nanny McPhee! I don’t know where you can get a magic cane, but drastic measures will have to be taken or these people will think they can get away with self supervising forever, as they toss aside one boss after another.
I think you should announce, or post an announcement that up to fifty percent of the staff willl be replaced over the next fourteen weeks, and that you would be evaluating everybody during that time. If they want to stay employed there, they need to shape up, be team players, and never forget just whose team they’re on. Be firm, be serious, and follow through. Schedule time for pep talks, maybe three people each day, five or ten minutes. It is time for people who want to play nice to let you know their concerns, ask for help, rat on people who are making plots. It is time you can spend with troublemakers to let them know specific behaviors you expect to see changed. If the times are scheduled, and everyone gets included, no-one can accuse you of singling them out. Nobody has to feel you are picking on them.
I supervised and trained lots of people when I was in the Navy. Things work out best if you first get very stern and show people you have the backbone for the job, then after you get your message across, you can relax things a bit, and everyone will know when they get a cross look from you, it is a side they don’t want to see again.
In your position, it is not only okay to be firm, it is required.
Good luck.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Summer1218 Have you had other supervisory positions or any training in it?

Summer1218's avatar

LOL @ Jonesn4burgers that is EXACTLY what I said to my family after the first day!!! I actually watched the movie trying to get ideas. So funny!

Summer1218's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe: I was a supervisor at my last job. However, I grew into that role over time. Also, I did not have the ability to make major decisions.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I came out of college and into a bank lending position, then was made head of the department 5 years later. It was my department, I owned it, but the people always knew I had their backs. I probably drove HR nuts, because I did it my way. But god those people busted their asses for me. I never had anyone disrespect me. I would never tolerate that. That would be the last thing anyone working for me would do. They would have their pink slip in five minutes.

ragingloli's avatar

So, 7 people have left before you and the problems did not commence until your supervisor left.
This sounds to me like a deliberate, coordinated effort to bully you, and the 7 people before you, into resignation, and your ‘assistant’ seems to be the head of the dragon.
She needs to go.

Summer1218's avatar

All of you have been so helpful. Thank you! I have some ideas now on how to start handling things. Starting tomorrow!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My heart goes out to you. It is always challenging to step into a new job where a culture already exists, especially one that is toxic. In 25 years with the same company, I’ve reported to 25 different people, as well as having been a manager/director myself. Here is what I have learned:

1. This dept. has become hardened by the ever-changing supervisors. Each time a new one steps in, they feel like they have gone back to Ground Zero in proving their ability. Set your expectation to be one of that they are all doing their job well already. Once they realize that you plan on sticking around and recognize their abilities, they will warm up to you. It just takes time.

2. Please don’t attempt to change existing procedures as you want them to be unless there is a blatant error in procedure. It’s possible that you will learn that there is a better way to do a task than what you are used to. If it needs to be changed, then hold a meeting with all of the staff, explain the procedure and its importance, and then ask for feedback. Getting a group consensus is more powerful than ending with “Because I say so.”

3. Hold one-on-one sessions with each employee. Ask them two questions: “What is working well for you in your job?” and “What could be done to help you succeed?” Follow up each question with “What else?” until they are done. Take notes. Thank them for their input. Then follow up with them in a timely manner,even if it is to say that their concern is still on the radar. It’s time-consuming, but trust me, it will pay off in the long run.

4. Sometimes it is necessary to terminate an employee. Know the laws and get the support of the hospital’s HR dept. first. What you may find is that having this employee removed from the department is like having the clouds blow away and the sunshine come out. They are energy suckers that bring the whole dept. down. It is likely that they would be better suited in another career, and you might be doing them a favor.

5. There is a saying: “People quit their supervisor before they quit their job.” The #1 reason for this is not salary, as most managers assume, but from lack of recognition. People want/need feedback when they are on the right track.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Your avatar smile is beautiful. Put that smile on your face, genuinely, and the next time someone says… “You can’t have these. Its a waste because everyone quits”

Reply, “Not everyone. Some people get fired”. Then publicly terminate the assistant.

Assistants should assist… not make folly of the new position cards I’m sure you were very proud to receive. Show a little backbone lady.

gailcalled's avatar

, when the business cards arrived, she grabbed them from me in front of other staff and said “You can’t have these. Its a waste because everyone quits.”

That is when you stop everything and say to this woman, “Please step into my office. We need to speak privately.” Then you lasso her from the group, bring her into your office and lay down the law, including professional behavior guidelines. You may want to tape the conversation, with her awareness, on your phone as documentation.

GloPro's avatar

One suggestion no one else has touched on is to approach your boss and ask where your authority begins and ends. If your superiors do not have your back in public, regardless of giving you constructive criticism in private, then nothing you do will hold weight. Make sure you express your desire to revamp the position and the department and give concrete ideas on how you intend to do so. Review resumes prior to the meeting so you can suggest new staff and a breath of fresh air and enthusiasm at the same time you bring up your desire to make tough staffing changes. Put a positive spin and face on for your boss and get support without admitting what you have to us. You were hired because someone believes you are capable. It wasn’t your inferiors that hired you. Live up to your expectations. You can do it!

Adagio's avatar

You are wondering if there is something wrong with you because of the way you are treated but you mentioned that 7 people had quit the job before you, I think that says a lot about the work environment there, don’t accuse yourself, it sounds very much like there were major problems before you even arrived. Best of luck to you, be strong.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Nothing generates respect like cold stark terror. If in the current economic environment the people you supervise have no fear of being fired, there is something SERIOUSLY wrong. They are either woefully underpaid or the work itself is undesirable. Actually, undesirable work is just another way of saying they are underpaid. In any event, you’re going nowhere if the people you supervise are allowed to treat you with open contempt. Fire them or resign. I’m thinking this entire question is a made up situation. If you are indeed in the position you claim, you must have the qualifications to realize all of this.

Summer1218's avatar

@stanleybmanly: I’m too busy to spend time making up scenarios. However, you touched on a good point regarding the work being undesirable….I think that may be one of the issues here.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Summer1218 Once more, undesirable work can become desirable if the money is right. Now if your institution is one of those where the model is “turnstile” employment like fast food chains, you should recognize it as such, and realize what your TRUE function is in the chain of command. It sounds very much like you’re there to insulate those responsible for the “turnstile” business decision from the nightmare of perpetual demeaning headaches which MUST accompany the business plan. It might be a productive experience to seek out some of your 7 predecessors for input on your current situation as well as insights into overall operations. In any event, YOU must “clean house” employee-wise or your position is all but untenable.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Summer1218 I take it you walked into the hospital job fully aware of what’s going on with the industry and with all the budget cuts and other crap?

Summer1218's avatar

@stanleybmanly: Yes, I believe that I am in the type of environment. Your comment was truly insightful, thank you.

Summer1218's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I am aware of what is going on in the hospital industry. I came to this job from a very similar position in another hospital. In some ways I am in the core of all that crap because I am in the discharge planning department. However, I think there has been an ingraining of dysfunctional behaviors over time in my current position ( this was not the case in my previous job). The department has been operating in ’ crisis mode’ due to their staffing issues so I think they have been just barely getting by. I came to this job because I wanted a fresh opportunity..and now I regret my decision.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I guess you have two choices: Bail and go elsewhere, might be better, might be worse. Or here’s another thought. Go to the boss, and explain you see some serious morale problems. Ask him or her if the two of you could sit down and do some brainstorming to work around the budget crap. He or she is probably going nuts trying to figure this out. It might be a nice positive step.

Judi's avatar

Hospital politics suck anyway. I could never work in one again. Just a notch above highschool.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

I would like to see you be successful in this new position. I am certain there are people there who only follow your troublemaker because she presents as alpha female. There are bound to be those who would like to see her reign come to an end. There is a reason you and the others before you were hired, rather than somebody from within. They know there are problems, and they want someone from outside the problem area to get a prospective, and deal with the problem. You took a position knowing you would supervise a staff. Bosses face problems, and here you go. Take it step by step, and get things straightened out. Once you do, the environment will improve. You may end up feeling it is the best job you could ever have.
Be sure to document every step of the way. An administration which allows things to get like this should have a trail easy to follow, so that in the future, when you want a raise, or have an issue, they will have proof before them that you are a deserving member of the team.
There are people depending on you to make things right. Don’t let them down. Remember how Nanny McPhee ended? They loved her, and wanted her to stay. They didn’t realize how messed up they were until she got them straightened out. It will take work, sacrifice, headaches sure. Face it. Take a deep breath. Do what you know you need to do. Reap your rewards later.

jca's avatar

@Summer1218: Please update us as to how things go. We’re all rooting for you!

The Update Lady

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Yes, please, updates.

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