Help! My Boss is a Bully!

Nurses have often been accused of eating their young and for the most part I believe this is true.  It's not that we want to be cruel, but often because new nurses sometimes have a bit of an attitude and think they know-it-all. This type of attitude can really set some nurses off.  But what about managers?   We've all had a bully for a charge nurse, at one-time-or-another.  The problem is, how do you handle a nurse manager who seems to be out to get you, no matter what you do?


When I worked in recovery I had a manager that was just horrible to me.   She was female and I'm male and she hated me from the start.  She would pick on me for everything and I later learned that she didn't want a male nurse working under her. It made her "uncomfortable".

Many nurses managers are nice to your face, but will stab you in the back as soon as you turn it.  They thrive on power and control and they want to work their way up the career ladder and don't care who they step on to get there. 

The nurse manager I had was so cheesy-nice to me, yet she would comment to others about how she didn't like me for all sorts of reasons. She was highly unprofessional and very rude at times. She would often try to embarrass me in front of patients and other nurses.

When I finally quit working there, I wrote a letter of complaint about her to the head of the hospital.  I really don't know if it helped get rid of her, but two weeks after I quit, she was fired.  I guess all that "brown-nosing" didn't get her very far. 

I have since become a manager myself and I because I learned so much from that experience, I run my shift in a completely different way.  My nurses will tell you that I'm a very fair, yet firm nurse manager and all my nurses seem to like me and treat me with respect. 

So what can you do as a nurse, if your nurse manager is a bully?  

Rule number one: Don't ever confront a bullying boss. If they're already bullying you, this will just inflame the situation even more and they won't accept any blame anyway. Go as high up the ladder as you possibly can, but be prepared for the questions they may ask you.

Rule two: Get your ducks in a row before you speak with anyone. Document everything, even if you think some of the things the bully is doing aren't that big of a deal.  Have times, dates and exactly what happened, written down.

Rule three:  If you don't trust the manager, bring a witness along if possible. If you know they'll lie or try to make you look bad, have someone else there who is on your side and who has seen your manager's true colors for themselves. 

Rule Four: Don't seize-up or get nervous when it's time for you to speak up. Explain what's going on in detail and stand your ground.  Tell them what you would like to see changed, in a professional, calm manner. 


Rule five: Stay calm. Getting loud and obnoxious will cost you your credibility. You want to remain in control. The more they raise their voice, the worse it makes them look.

Rule six: Be precise about what you would like to happen.  Tell the person you're meeting with what you hope will change, so they can address the manager you're having a problem with and explain exactly what kind of change you want.

Rule Seven: Never tolerate sexual, verbal or physical harassment in any form.  If you feel you are experiencing this type of harassment, it has gone beyond bullying and it has become a legal matter.  Take this type of harassment to the highest possible level and if all else fails call the police. 


Have you been the victim of a bully manager?  Comment below.