Ask the Expert
I have been an associate at my hospital for 16 months. In the last 3 months, I have been given the worst shifts and tasks without any respect from my boss. She controls the entire hospital and can be very manipulative. My schedule is not what I initially agreed upon and the newer doctors have more privileges than I do.
What do I do now that the assertive discussions have failed with her? The "higher-ups" don't want to deal with her lack of positive leadership, so that's not an option. In your opinion what would be the next logical step besides quitting? I am just trying to find a happy medium so I can come to work every day and actually enjoy my job.
Let's start with your personal situation and ways you may improve it. Your predicament is, unfortunately, not unusual in new employment situations. It sounds as though you came into the job attempting to do everything you could to be a team player and supportive accommodator. This was wise, as you needed to figure out how the hospital worked, and get a sense of the power structure and culture. You now recognize that without somehow getting your boss to sit down and discuss the current work structure with you, you are doomed to either being miserable or walking out the door. Let's work to find an intermediate solution!
You believe your boss has lost respect for you, and that her superiors don't want to deal with employee hassles that should be hers to solve. What makes you believe these two statements? If I'm correctly inferring that you've had conversations with both that haven't gone well, than perhaps a change in course might help.
Since you can't change the way your boss and upper management choose to respond to you, all you are in charge of is how you decide to approach them. How about trying an experiment? I suggest you take a clear and objective look at how the work schedule is designed, and how tasks are assigned over a week's time. Do this not as a frustrated associate, but as someone from the outside who has no stake in the outcome. Once this week is up, look at your data. Is it just you who appears to be getting the worst shifts and jobs, or are there others in the same situation? Perhaps it is just the result of indifferent scheduling rather than favoritism? Even if not, you may get further with your boss if you make this assumption.
So, your next step would be to ask for a meeting with your boss when she is able to clear a time to talk privately for an hour. Make sure you schedule this, as you want to allow uninterrupted time to talk. In this meeting, let your boss know how much you value your job and your team. Praise those elements which you believe are strengths of the practice. Share your commitment to be an excellent asset to the practice. Ask her for any insights she may have in helping you to achieve this goal.
Hear her out in a calm and reasonable manner. Note what she says, as that may give you clues to the strife between you, whether or not you agree with it. File her thoughts away for further reflection later and thank her for her honestly and candor. Attempt to remain calm and focused on your main goal as you proceed.
Next, let her know that you would like to open a discussion about how to create an equitable schedule and workload division between all of the doctors. Share your insights as gleaned from your week "experiment" and without confronting, help her see why you are frustrated with the schedule. Reiterate that you value your place in the practice, and that you hope these scheduling difficulties can be worked out to allow you to work towards your potential. Let her know you want to be a "long term" player with the practice and that these changes are important to you and your ability to produce and enjoy your work. Ask her to look over your ideas and to meet with you in a week to discuss potential changes.
Notice I have not had you argue with her, confront her, or approach her with your frustration showing. With this approach, you are less likely to encounter or trigger her defensiveness and allow her the opportunity to not only coach you, but to join you in making your ability to produce for the practice more probable. This is an assertive, proactive approach, that allows both of you to obtain something that you both want. I hope your boss will see the advantage in working with you openly and honestly.
If this is not the case, and the situation continues as is or appears to deteriorate, it is then time to reassess whether this practice is the right one for you.
Best wishes as you take some positive steps!