Our veterinarian constantly picks on everything we do at work. Help!
Our veterinarian constantly nitpicks everything we do, from the laundry to copying to cotton balls. It seems we can't do anything right. I have no motivation to go to work and actually dread it. I avoid her as much as possible. And when it's not possible, I have to walk on eggshells to prevent another attack. She does this with everyone, and all my co-workers feel the same way. Should we sit her down and have an intervention, or should I just leave?
— DEMEANED AND DEFEATED
As a manager you can protect anyone from anything but the practice owner. If this is the owner, pack your bags and give her a good dose of honesty in the exit interview—unless her redeeming qualities outweigh her less-than-loveable ones. If this is an associate, go with the intervention. Schedule a time to talk and use the following script:
1. Ask to give her feedback about your work experience. Use "I" language about the behaviors she displays that frustrate you. Avoid judging or labeling her intentions, and stick to talking about behavior.
2. Talk about how her behavior affects you. Let her know the emotional toll the behavior has on you and the team.
3. Ask her if she agrees that this is a problem, and gain her commitment to change.
4. Ask for a meeting 30 days later to make sure the behavior has improved. This also offers the chance to check in to see if there's more to work on.
Remember that confronting the boss is always difficult but necessary if you want to be respected. If you take this action, have another job lined up, as she may not be open to feedback. Even if you have to leave, you've regained your power and your self-respect, and she knows why she lost a valuable employee. Good luck!
Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics editorial advisory boards and is CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Chicago. For videos and articles containing more of McVey's tips and tricks on issues relating to veterinary personnel management, conflict, and communication, visit dvm360.com/mcvey.