Biggest Mistake Nurse Managers Make Regarding Bullying

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Susan is a new nurse manager. She was warned about the bullying behavior of some of her nurses and was bound and determined to stop it. Pattie, one her clinical nurses, asked Susan is she could talk to her about a situation. Pattie proceeded to share an incident involving one of the known bullies on the unit. Susan was outraged and asked Pattie to document the incident. However, not only did Pattie refuse to document the incident but she also begged Susan not to even say anything about it.
Then Susan made her biggest mistake.

Susan told Pattie that unless she was willing to document the incident or at least allow Susan to talk to the bully, not to bother telling her about it or come to her with any other co-worker issues.
Why is this a big mistake?
When managers tell employees, “Well, if you’re not going to document or at least allow me to talk to the bully, then don’t come to me with these problems.” They shut the door of communication. Oh, make no mistake about it. The bullying will continue but now you’ve just pushed it underground.
Managers must keep the lines of communication open even if initially, the employee is unwilling to document or do anything about it!
1.   You can use the opportunity to coach employees on how to address bullying behavior when it’s happening. The more employees learn how to address the behaviors themselves (name it), the more likely it is that the bullying behaviors will stop.
2.   Encourage and support employees who are targets of bullying. Targets of bullying suffer physical, emotional, mental and spiritual damage. They may be reaching out to you for support. Keeping the door open can allow you support them. The #1 reason why someone stays or leaves their job is the relationship they have with their boss. When someone comes to you for help, be there, and show compassion. They need it.
3.   Keeps your finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the unit when you’re not there. After all, bullies are good at behaving well when you’re there. If nobody is willing to come to you, then you are less likely to know what’s really happening when you’re not.
Trust me, you want your employees coming to you with behavioral problems on the unit.  But not to worry, if you keep the lines of communication open and show your support, in time they will strengthen their moral courage muscles and do their part to stop the cycle of bullying. After all, you can’t do it alone.

Thanks so much for reading. Take care and stay connected! To make sure you get all of my tips and strategies to eliminate bullying and create a professional work environment, make sure you sign up for my eNews list. It’s easy. Just click here.

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3 thoughts on “Biggest Mistake Nurse Managers Make Regarding Bullying”

  1. Great post! My sister is an RN and has mentioned several times some of the bullying that goes on around her. Glad that you are working to stop it. There is a great book written by Nancy Omeara titled, "Creating Hate: How It Is Done, How To Destroy It: A Practical Handbook. It is definitely eye opening.

  2. Hi Becky. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. You sister, just like EVERY nurse knows that bullying is alive and well! It's so embarrassing to me and others who truly value our colleagues and go out of our way to support each other. After all, patient's lives depend on it!
    Thanks so much for the book recommendation. I'm a veracious reader/learner and will check it out.

    Warmest regards

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