Workplace Politics

by Jinryu


the day after I got into the showdown with [Manny] the manger (in previous posts spelled Many, but changed because it’s a bit confusing with the word describing quantitiy), it seems that she’s switched tactics.

Two things stand out about her actions the day after our public argument. It’s hard to decide which of these two things is actually the more out of character move.

The first is that she annouced that she’s going to be hiring a new part timer for desk duties. Manny has been fighting clerical attempts to request backup for a long time. Apparently, before I was hired, she didn’t want to look at hiring anyone for months even though [Chere] and [Mickey] were doing the work of 3 coordinators. Now that I’ve been here for a bit over a year, we’re at 3 coordinators for 3 positions, but the problem is that the OR is gradually descending into hell in terms of policies– administrative situations are becoming more complicated than they were a year ago, and whenever one of us the three of us calls in sick or goes on vacation, we get backlogged.

Manny has held out against calls for reinforcement for over a year: so why would she change her mind now? It’s probably worth noting that at our hospital network, managers are given a “performance bonus” at the end of each year for keeping their budget belts on the tight notches.

Secondly, she thanked me for my hard work, saying that she went over the numbers and saw a huge jump from the day before. Oftentimes, she won’t even say hello when she passes you in the hallway. I suppose I should be grateful for thanks coming from someone who never gives it, but at this workplace, I’d rather stick to my jaded conspiracy theories.

Maybe a bit of context helps. I think these recent changes are simply because the Transition Management Team (who is the taskforce that’s been formed to handle the transition from Montreal’s several HUHC hospitals to the one MegaHospital set to be finished in a few years). The TransMan team is basically here stirring shit up– in a good way mind you– but the management is basically squawking, looking busy with their coffe cups trying to look responsive and helpful. In reality– the policies that are being implemented in a half-assed way with very little foresight.

By little foresight, I meant that management is making the same mistake they’ve always made– they’re not consulting with the people they’re working with. Management can always change policies, sure– but if they had any idea what it’s like to work on the front lines, they wouldn’t make up such bullshit policies.

The day before all this mana fell from the heavens (more manpower and encouragement is a clerk’s lifebread), Manny cornered me at the desk and we got into an argument where I deffended my point of view very sternly with her. If you remember Will Ferrel’s line from “The Other Guys,” at some point Mark Wallberg starts verbally accosting him– and Ferrel shuts him down, by just shooting holes in all his logic. “That didn’t go the way you thought it would, did it!” he says afterwards.

Well, Manny’s discussion with me didn’t go the way that she intended it to. Actually, I’m not sure what the hell she expected me to say. On previous occasions I already told her that the post-op reports were being done as fast as they could be done– so what good does it do to tell someone that they need to work faster?

This kind of attitude doesn’t show up in good management. Good management looks for solutions. Pressuring someone to work harder when they’ve already told you on several occasions that they need more manpower, that the system doesn’t allow it, or that we’re already working at 100% capacaity… well, isn’t that like banging your head against a wall?

Actually, no. Because bad workplace relations tactics include bullying to get what you want. I’m sure you’ve seen it. You can get someont to work at more than 100% of their abilities, if you bully them. People will work faster, do unpaid overtime, put up with jobs that aren’t theirs, etc. That’s bad management, because continued use of such tactics leads to the OR situation we have now– which is that it alternates between sentiments of mutiny and dessertion. With 4 new nurses being trained and another 2 senior ones leaving by the end of the month, this month it’s dessertion. This all happens becaues management doesn’t stick up for us. Oftentimes, bad managers get away with it, because workers are tricked into thinking that it’s their job to help beyond the call of their jobs.

It isn’t.

The simple math of a situation is that you can’t help others if you can’t take care of yourself first. This takes a lot of introspection– how much of your quality of life

Which is why I say that the MUHC is a very peculiar case as far as employment goes. It has some of the most intelligent, dedicated, disciplined and resourceful minds out there– but management in almost every context I’ve worked under has been terrible.

So, the big question is… what can we do about it?

Well, first of all, sometimes it’s necessary to play hard ball. There was a guy in the anaesthesia department who used to pull shit on me all the time– used to book cases after hours and try and pull the wool over my eyes, and then, the next morning, the whole department would be all screwed up if something went wrong. Well, what did I do? I called him on his bullshit. And he stopped trying to do it.

Manny was bugging me to do things beyond my work limits. So what did I do? I called her on it. And the next day, she said she was hiring people and that I was doing a great job.

Mind you , we have yet to see if she keeps up on these promises– but the basic lesson is that you have to stand up for yourselves. How effectively you manage to do so depends on how much gunpowder you can store at once without them noticing. In both the anaesthesia case and Manny case, I’ve been stocking up hate and aggravation for a long time– but it’s important to note that it’s not just emotions you store up, but proof and experience. That is to say– it’s not enough to just hate someone’s attitude. You must have reason to question their way of working.

If someone is just an asshole at work, well, tough balls. You can’t do much about that. But the only way you can leverage anything at work is if you leverage them in the context of the work.

The thing is, I’m usually quite lenient when it comes to how I deal with people at work. I’ll usually bend backwards a bit– because in most cases, people will do the same for me. Rules exist, but they are guidelines that work best when everyone has a unified vision of what it is we’re trying to accomplish– in the context of the hospital, it’s about good care for the kids.

But every now and then you get people who use the rules for the wrong reasons.

It’s sad but they ruin it for everyone.

So, what am I going to do about it?

Well, as a basic start, I’m aiming at transparency. That means if I’m going to do anyone favors, I want everyone to know whay I’m showing favoritism: “Because this person is doing a good thing.” And if I’m being mean to someone– conversely, “it’s because this person is being unprofessional.” And if I make a big deal out of something… “I don’t agree with this protocol.” And I will make a noise about it until it is amended.

… sorry if I just talk about work lately. It just seems like the douchery is more than usual ever since TransMan started their investigations. Somehow, it pressured management to make a series of bad decisions though. This isn’t just me resisting change– this is me telling you my opinion that the changes being made aren’t the ones that we need.

So, I’ll continue to be prepared to get into confrontations.

I wish we could all just get along and do our jobs.