March 29, 2008

Profile For Courage

My good friend, Floyd, and my little sister Sandy can rejoice with me that they were wrong, and I still have a nursing job come Monday morning.

My friends and family (cyber family included) will be pleased to know that sometimes our words DO make a difference, and we should always be true to our inner self and life’s moral values.

Yesterday, I received a face-to-face “redo” of my annual performance appraisal from the nursing director of the company I work for.

A few days before that, I received an unexpected blasé’ performance appraisal in the mail for me to sign and return. The surprise evaluation was what I termed “ho-hum” with all the check marks down the middle “ME” (Meets Expectations) and a few simple comments reflecting that I, “always turn my time sheets in on time” (hey, I get paid that way), and the families I work for “have no complaints” although I’ve heard them speak to the director in glowing terms about me.

I was disappointed and perplexed.

(Read my (cyber) lips slowly…) After almost 40 years of hard working, continuing education-seeking, management experienced, owner-of-my-own nursing-agency, business woman with diversified nursing experiences who excels in computer literacy and has advanced specialized training combined with a pleasing personality and brings excellence and integrity to any facility where I’m employed in the sunset years of my nursing career, (my resume' in one paragraph),
I said NO to this uninspiring, lackadaisical misleading report about my skills and abilities!

In response, I posted on this blogsite an honest but somewhat sarcastic ‘rebuke’ article related to my ‘mail-in' Performance Appraisal. (Click
HERE for that article.)

After I posted the article questioning the purpose of people who write performance appraisals without thought or consideration, several family members and friends cautioned me that I might be in deep trouble.

“They’re going to fire you,” my concerned sister pronounced.

Darlin’, you mentioned the company by name?” my loving husband kindly rebuked (before he even read the article). “You bit them in the ankle.” (He said after he read the article)

Clayfeet (Floyd) wrote in his comment ….”the only reason for these totally fabricated reports and exercises is to create false paperwork to justify the pre-determined decisions of upper management to deny the lower classes any pay increases so as to reserve more money for their own bonuses….The second issue here is whether anyone facing this kind of enormous pressure to simply sign and return a sheet of obvious lies is willing to take the high risk of rocking the boat and challenging the whole carefully constructed sham or whether their job is more important.”

Now I had a mix of disappointment at my family and friends combined with alarm that I might loose my job and, even worse, maybe I had unintentionally hurt innocent people that I actually enjoy working with!

I quickly went in and deleted the name of the company (although traces still remain) and considered deleting the entire posting even though I didn’t think it was fair that I would have to.

“Maybe I’m stupid and naive,” I scolded myself. “But I don’t think so!” I retorted.

I didn’t delete the disturbing posting. I even added it to my blog at MySpace! But, I worried as I chipped away at my bite-proof artificial fingernails.

A few hours later (after people at my employment found and read the posting), I got a call from the Director. (She had signed the condemned appraisal.)

I was trembling as I answered the Caller-ID number listed as the company I work for.

“I heard you were disappointed in your performance appraisal. I’m really sorry because I honestly think you are a wonderful nurse…I plan to re-write your appraisal to reflect the great nurse you are,” she promised.

It was pretty well a one-sided but honest conversation. I felt elated as I hung up but not quite good enough to tell anyone, “I told you so”.

Because I figured that everyone at work was now peeking into my blog, I posted a thank-you note - then I turned off my cell phone and went shopping!

So, Friday morning the Director met me at the home where I work as a home nurse. I had not wanted to involve the family, but because we had to meet there, the mother knew about it more than I would have wished. She had some of her own comments ready for my supervisor. I hoped she wouldn’t need them. I was most nervous about when the “get-even” part would start.

“You’re a great nurse, BUT...”

“I wish you hadn’t written…”

“You excel in this area but here are your weaknesses…”

Bless her. She didn’t go there.

“Because you brought this to my attention, I’m revamping how I do ALL evaluations. I really appreciate your input. It has changed how I’ll do future evaluations for all the nurses,” she said softly with respect in her voice and honesty in her eyes.

The mother of the home working quietly in the kitchen quickly realized she would not have to get involved.


She included a separate page with 13 additional positive comments listed.
(Would it be proper to list them all here?) Here goes - for the world to see…

“Linda approaches her job responsibilities with a seriousness of purpose.
She is careful to follow policy.
She is responsible to work assigned shifts and is on time.
She is calm in the midst of sometimes chaos.
Her documentation is legible and neat.
She turns in her documentation to the office in a timely manner.
She follows the care plan as reflected in her documentation and she does not deviate from the care plan.
She is careful to obtain physician orders for any care provided. She then writes the supplemental orders and turns them into the office in a timely manner.
She did an outstanding job post hospitalization of obtaining physician orders.
The families with which she works have verbalized appreciation for the care that she provides.
She is responsible to call (the office) and notify the office of changes.
She asks for guidance when she needs direction.
She carefully assesses the needs of the clients and follows through until the needs are met.”

“(The Company) is blessed to have Linda as an employee. She is an example of a quality nurse. (The Company) would benefit from having more nurses like Linda.”

In retrospect, this may have been resolved more pleasantly without my frustration and worry if I had gone directly to the Nursing Director.

I recall past experiences with problems in the homes when she has reacted swiftly to resolve issues and get everyone back on tract.

I appreciate the strength it takes, and I honor her willingness to look at herself and ask if she can change her management style to make something better for the employees even if it means much more work for herself.

Managers like this are very few today! That's why those who followed my story predicted the worst. Compassionate leaders are rare and probably very under appreciated!

Four years from now, when I’m eligible to retire, I may post this evaluation next to my computer as I write my 10th book. Thirty years from now when I’m too tired to write anymore, and need to be turned every two hours, I’ll have it hanging above my bed.

But at the end of the report, I'll write in the name of this truly exceptional nursing director.

That will be easy because her first name is the same as mine!

Take Care on the Journey,




Calder said...

I am happy for you Linda! I suppose I would feel the same way and also speak up as you did. We definitely have to "choose" our battles, but with this one, you know the data rings true, so speaking in facts, you had the right approach. Also congrats on opening the supervisors eyes a bit too on the improvements in everyone's reviews. I guess we all need that once in a while.

You seemed to handle it in a professional manner and I am sure that helped, no need to make someone lose face huh.

Great for you!!!

Clay Feet said...

I am very proud of you, Linda. You maybe didn't do the ideal thing in this situation but you also decided to not back down and cower in fear which is much worse. I was hoping you would stick up for yourself even though from experience most people know the odds stacked against them. The reason I wrote what I did was maybe an oblique way of encouraging you to not sign off easily, but it had to be your own choice. Your were willing to take a risk and sometimes risk-taking pays back handsomely. This time it also may benefit many others as well because of your courage - even if it was just tentative.

Bringer of Peace said...

May God's peace be felt not only by you but by all who have been affected through this experience.

Katy said...

I'm glad this turned out so well in your favor, Linda! You deserve lots of good reviews, with big raises, too!


The Cat's Meow said...

I never worked where a review meant very much. I did'nt (still don't) care what they thought of me, just if I was going to get a raise or just the same old shit. I knew I did a GREAT job. Glad all worked out good for you and the other nurses. Love Ya

Linda Meikle said...

Thanks for each of you for reading this fairly lengthy article. You're comments are always welcome. It's nice to see my friends at work for me too.