Thursday, July 16, 2009

Courting Disaster

Have you ever had to deal with difficult people? I do – every day. And it’s more than just the patients; sometimes it’s the people we work with.

For example, there is an individual that I work with regularly that I know is competent. But he’s young – young enough, in fact, to be my child. And he’s incredibly cocky. Plus, when things aren’t going his way he can be pretty petulant. The only reason I’m refraining from using the word “childish” to describe the behavior is because that word doesn’t describe what I see accurately.

He also will find ways to skirt work. Not that I always have a problem with it, but there are times when it’s just not a good idea to do this sort of thing. Occasionally we get sent to do calls in other districts, mainly because there isn’t enough manpower in the other location to get a call done. He’s managed to find ways to delay our getting to some of the calls, and on two recent occasions this has gotten us noticed by the duty supervisor in a negative way.

Not a way I want to ever be noticed by a supervisor under any circumstances.

The other thing I’ve observed that I don’t like very much is his attitude toward patients and the way he acts towards most of them. I don’t think I’ve seen him say more than two or three words at the most to some of the people we transport at any given time. When he does, he tends to be short, and sometimes he can be downright rude.

I’m working on a way to deal with this that solves the problem and teaches him a lesson about his lack of people skills. While I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do, whatever I do will be constructive. At the same time, I plan to drive home the point that he’s got to change his attitude. Otherwise it will get him into trouble. And, quite frankly, there is another reason I’m concerned – a self-serving one: his way of doing things could blow back onto me.

I know how that sounds, but I’ve worked too hard and for too long to develop the way I do my job and the reputation I have for being good at what I do. I don’t want to see all of that effort get ruined.

I’ll talk more about this over time. Right now I’m working on dealing with getting this resolved in a way that I don’t have to involve management because, no matter how much difficulty I have with this situation, I don’t want to see anyone lose their job. And he’s not a bad person; he just really needs to grow up.


Anonymous said...

This is a serious concern of mine. I'm almost 19 and am spending the summer learning the basics of well everything. From people skills to observation skills to working hard, I'm learning it by volunteering during the night in the ER.

I don't know how to get this young partner of yours to change. I do however know that your post is helping me by reminding me of areas I need to be constantly improving in. Thanks!

Karen Brook Westhaver said...

I left a comment, Walt, on your facebook post about this. But wanted to say a bit more. Cocky + lazy (behavior which delays time of arrival for some calls)+ minimal interaction with pts = dangerous. Bad equation for everybody. I'm sorry you (and your colleagues & pts) are having to deal with this situation. In my former profession we kinda expected/anticipated that pts/clients might well be "difficult"...part of why they were there! Difficult colleagues/providers...that's another story and hard, though. Especially when potentially dangerous. It seems obvious this guy does not like his job, don't know why he took the training for the job, especially as he doesn't have the aptitude for the job. You're right that some things can change with maturity, but some of these issues *feel* more like character issues and personality temperment. Those things are much harder/highly unlikely/impossible to change. Meanwhile, lots of folks are in jeopardy (colleagues + pts). I had a whole host of phrases I'd use when needing to "re-direct" someone from their position with us to someplace/something else. The "You deserve to work in a career which you enjoy, which is satisfying and fulfilling to you" sounds like one which would go over with this guy (cocky is usually another facet of inflated ego). I know there's no easy answer/solution...wish I could do something to help. Also I'm aware I'm writing as the former Director of an outpatient mental health clinic (hence management) but trying to think more globally. My phrase above isn't really as glib as it may sound. He's young, he does deserve to work at a career more suited to his temperment/aptitudes. And everyone else there needs to have colleagues they can count on. Prayers for you in this tricky situation.

TOTWTYTR said...

I'd suggest that any time that he misbehaves, you whack on the snout with a rolled up copy of JEMS whilst shouting, "Bad medic, no, bad medic." Then again, you're probably a bit more subtle and constructive in your critiques than I am.

Ellie said...

haha, the rolled up JEMS is a good idea. Personnel problems are a nightmare, and I totally understand trying to be a friend, a colleague, and a mentor without feeling like an ass. I know you'll find the right way to get the message across, Walt.