Manage Difficult Situations

Chapter 13 Manage Difficult Situations

Managers have to deal with all sorts of different personalities ranging from the shy and passive to the explosive and aggressive types. Working in the health care environment can bring out the worst in people as the pressure increases with more work and fewer resources. It is important to understand the emotional vulnerability that underlies many difficult situations. A key managerial skill is the ability to notice individual needs for recognition and self-esteem, and to be confident in confronting challenging situations and people in a constructive and positive manner.

The difficult manager

People usually get promoted because they are good at their job. The problem with clinicians being good at their job is that when promoted to become managers, they find it is a totally different job from that which they were doing before. They do not necessarily have the skills in managing people or resources. (In some cases, people are promoted because they are poor clinicians or because they have been in the organisation for a very long time, but this is rare nowadays.) That’s not to say that all managers are no good because most are (even those who may not have been appropriate for the job originally). Many will thrive and become good managers in time. Unfortunately, there are a few who do not. Some will struggle in their role and may take out their frustrations on others or perhaps become very controlling and manipulative. Some adopt an aggressive manner and may shout or lose their temper on occasions, while others may shy away from difficult decisions and leave their team to their own devices.

Managers who are prone to getting angry

If your manager starts shouting at you, do not sit and take it but, whatever you do, do not shout back. Say that you are sorry about whatever it is, but would rather wait and discuss the matter when things have calmed down. Say that you will leave if necessary. Only stay if they agree to talk to you in a civil manner. By saying that you prefer to wait until things have calmed down, it does not look like you are blaming them. You need to be diplomatic. After all, this is your manager.

Unfortunately there are some managers who are continuously aggressive and intimidating. Explain that this approach of shouting at you is not going to make you work any harder. It just serves to upset and intimidate you. If you have made a mistake, always admit to it. If you have not done something that was asked for, state clearly and succinctly the reasons why you have not achieved what is required. Don’t make excuses, which may only serve to increase their anger.

If this is a situation that comes up time and time again, go and discuss it through with either your manager’s line manager or someone senior in your human resources (HR) department. It’s best to let your manager know first of your intentions. This may well stop the situation by itself. All NHS organisations are required to have a policy for dealing with bullying and harassment. You should be well supported through the process (although you must keep a factual log of all incidents as evidence).

Managers who don’t manage

Some managers are reluctant to take on their managerial responsibilities. These tend to be people who are promoted because of their clinical experience. As mentioned previously, clinical skills are not the same as managerial skills. These types of managers may busy themselves with issues that require their clinical expertise and ignore their managerial role. It can be hard to get them to make any decisions or take any action on important managerial matters.

It is difficult to deal with this sort of manager because they are normally well liked and maintain a good rapport with everyone. They will spend a lot of time sympathising with you and your team over your issues, but don’t actually do anything about them. People tend to label them as ‘supportive’ managers because they spend time listening to individual problems (despite not doing anything about them).

One way of dealing with this type of manager is to never present issues as problems, try and present the full solution to the problem, or a number of alternative solutions from which the manager can choose. For each solution, make sure:

Bear in mind that these managers tend to thrive on social acceptance among the clinical team so ensure you make it clear that your solutions have been generated by your team and reflect all their views too.

The problematic colleague

The very nature of our work means we will always be working with people, sometimes some very difficult people. Unfortunately you cannot choose your work colleagues, and in the clinically focused role of the ward manager, you cannot retreat to an office or work alone to avoid the problem.

So how do you handle a colleague who is proving rather difficult to work with? First, tell them. This sounds fairly obvious but you would be amazed at how many don’t do this. The individual then carries on blissfully unaware of the angst they are causing. The situation will get worse if you leave it, and the longer you leave telling your colleague, the worse they will feel. Second, don’t get personal, otherwise they will become defensive and you’ll get nowhere. Focus on the issue, not the person.

Allegations of bullying or harassment within your team

What is bullying or harassment?

If members of your team do not treat their colleagues with dignity and respect, it could be interpreted as bullying or harassment. Situations in which a member of your team feels threatened, insulted or intimidated in any way by another person’s behaviour must be stopped immediately. If any of your staff come to you saying that someone else makes them feel this way, even if it was not intended, you need to take action. If you don’t do anything:

You should take all complaints seriously, even if you personally believe that it is simply a case of firm management or a harmless joke. Bullying and harassment are defined as any sort of behaviour which makes an individual feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable and undermines their confidence. In other words, it is the impact of the behaviour, not the intent of the perpetrator which determines whether the person is being bullied or harassed.

Be aware that bullying can include:

Harassment is any unwanted behaviour towards an individual regarding gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs or any personal characteristic. This can include:

Jun 15, 2016 | Posted by in NURSING | Comments Off on Manage Difficult Situations

Full access? Get Clinical Tree

Get Clinical Tree app for offline access