Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Heartless Hierarchy Constrains

Hi StrangeTony,

You asked "How are things looking at Gentiva?"  They feel constrained on so many levels.  It's what happens when hospice, originally the calling of a dedicated mix of health care and other professionals, comes under the auspices of top down, command and control management.

This heartless hierarchy has asserted itself as the only appropriate route of communication, yet it is not open to the smallest of observations on itself.  Those are characterized as negative feelings, statements which are only offered by negative people.  It matters not that statistics are fudged to make leaders look good or that regulations are bent to the point of breaking.

Add the financial constraints leftover from the Harden acquisition and there is no money for just about anything (other than executive incentive compensation).  I expect it will be awhile before our gasoline mileage rate is increased.

We've learned to say in response to their edicts/offerings, "Thank you, sir/ma'am.  Can I please have another one?"  It goes easier that way.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gas Prices Return: What About Extra Reimbursement?


Gas prices for Generic Hospice staff returned to levels seen nine months ago, when employees were paid an extra 4 cents per mile for use of their personal vehicle at work.  How long before Generic leaders reinstall extra mileage reimbursement to ease pocketbook pain?  How are things looking at Gentiva?


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Generic Leaders Lacking


Your last message spoke of how you feel your hospice is in the darkest of the dark.  I expect you and your coworkers feel isolated, alone, and unsupported.  It's a place with no level ground, no solid foundation on which to tread.  What was right yesterday is wrong today.  Today's hero will be tomorrow's goat.  They shake things up because they can.  That's what abusers do.  It takes complicity from higher ups, whether those be corporate chiefs or a local board. 

I've mentioned our years under an abuse-aholic.  The two graphics, above and below, reflect our experience.  Staff easily read senior leader actions like no raises and benefit cuts.  It took time to realize the near total absence of communication from above. 

Our toxic site leader felt no need to paint the bigger picture or indicate how our efforts contributed to our site's and Generic's success.  Instead our leader devoted huge chunks of time to their corporate boss, i.e. fabricating a heroic persona.  Nothing was ever their fault, not even when customers called Generic's 800 number with a complaint about their completely inappropriate words and actions.

The toxicity grew with each interaction with our local manager.  Even the benign ones seem crafted to show how great a person they were.  Their need to arbitrarily judge and delegate blame made other interactions distasteful at best, psychological torture at worst.  What good leader ever said "Don't make me micromanage you!"  Most of our staff sought counseling through the Employee Assistance Program and were on anti-depressants.

Despite all that I've described corporate backed this person 100%.  Our site leader was always the victim.  Tears could be produced instantaneously.  They were never responsible for anything, be it obscene turnover levels (due to bad employees) or missing revenue by over 20% (the sales force's fault).

Great staff left replaced by good.  Then the good, as they neared greatness, left.  The loyal mediocre arrived in droves.  Even they figured out over time our site leader was toxic.  Those who could left.

It got to the point it became difficult to get people to apply for jobs.  The dreaded warm body effect entered our hospice for the first time.  Pulse, heartbeat, credential?  You're hired!

I previously posted the flowchart below, but it applies to your situation.

Our site went through four cycles of Generic Good Cop-Bad Cop.  The third cycle had one person perform both roles.  That was a head trip.  Staff never knew which face they'd display when they visited.  Most of us tried to be out of the building, which required ample warning. 

During cycle #3 I found tremendous anger welling up inside.  The singular Good Cop-Bad Cop (GC-BC) said they wanted to "know why our site had a number of longtime employees leave in a short period of time?"  I suggested the GC-BC talk with those individuals.  They did not call or meet with a one.

I concluded the Good Cop-Bad Cop came for a reason other than turnover.  They came to rescue our site leader from a bunch of ingrates.  They could've saved a lot of heartache by gathering all the staff, said corporate is concerned about how unfair you're being to your site leader and then told employees, "You can like it or leave." 

Generic leaders never got the significant role they and our local leader played in decimating our site.  I hope Gentiva leaders aren't clueless, however given what you've shared, I'm not placing any bets in that regard.

When you can endure no more, you'll know.  Bless the organization, thank the incredible people you've worked with and go off in search for your next pasture.  Godspeed.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Employee Gas Prices Rising


Generic staff recently experienced a rapid rise in gasoline prices, not to mention other soaring staples.  So far senior leaders have ignored any stress on worker wallets.  They've always reimbursed employees at rates far below what the federal government allows.

That differential has grown by 2 cents per mile since 2007.  Generic leaders send a message to staff every day with their words and actions.  Are they taking us for granted?  Me thinks so.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Reserving the Right Under Duress


I appreciate the wisdom you shared about enduring the torment of a bully manager.  Our site is currently in the darkest of the darkness.  In a matter of weeks roughly one quarter of our staff were fired or resigned.  This came after years of what we already considered high turnover.  

Our Branch Manager (BM) spun this as a combination of factors.  First, it's people getting good career opportunities (that apparently aren't available internally). Second, it's problem people who need to be gone.  Ignore the fact that, not long ago, these problem children were the BM's personal pick and "future saviors" of our site.  

Corporate willingly swallowed our Branch Manager's two-fold con.  Our emboldened BM laid out new rules.  They stated many directly, while others were inferred from years of behavior.

The Rules

1)  Work concerns will be shared with your boss and only your boss
2)  Personal concerns will be shared with your manager and no one else during work time
3)  Employees with bad attitudes need to adjust their attitude
4)  Personal concerns can be shared with employees with a positive attitude, but not during work time.  "Chit chat" should be saved until after 5:00 pm (after 10:00 pm for employees performing two jobs).
5)  Employees are not to meet with one another behind closed doors.  A closed door means staff are being negative, especially about management.
6)  Bosses can meet behind closed doors, as often as they want and for as long as they wish, because managers need to maintain confidentiality.
7)  Employees need to use the proper code word to access their boss in critical situations.  They did not choose "critical", as that implies criticism, which equals bad attitudes.
8)  There is no logical basis for an employee to have concerns regarding their boss.  Any judgements less than "leader perfection" show an employee's negativity, which requires instant correction.
9)  Any concerns about the way work gets done are blatant criticisms of management.  These are not to be expressed.  If this rule is violated, the perpetrator is to be stomped down (and eventually stomped out).
10)  Spontaneous gatherings of employees outside work are assumed to be anti-management "bandwagon" sessions.  This includes baby showers, where wailing infants are indoctrinated against our Branch Manager and the company.
11)  Employees should quit acting like babies and do whatever it takes to make our site successful, i.e. make the Branch Manager look good.  This includes working extra hours for free and doing the job of two people for months on end with no recognition or reward.
12)  Employees failing to perform two jobs well will be written up.  Failure to do two jobs well for long enough will result in firing.  This occurs only after the employee has trained their replacement.
13)  Employees should know that any vague promises of promotion or reward are simply to get them hired.  Once the employee is inside the system managers erase all memory of said promises.  These promises remain in the employees' mind as a subtle form of torture.
14)  Employees are hired for their hands, not their hearts or minds.  Employee hearts and minds are strictly under the purview, i.e. direct control of management.
15)  Any expectations of consistency are expressly disavowed.  Management reserves the right to operate by whim.  Any employee pointing out logical or ethical management inconsistencies needs to look in the mirror and say, "I have a bad attitude.  Please forgive me.  It is an absolute joy to work for you.  Can I do so for free?"
16)  Any expectation of privacy proves the employee is against management.  If employees are not with management, 100% of the issues/100% of the time, then the employee is a mutineer.  Any form of mutiny is expressly prohibited.  Complete fealty to the BM is required.
17)  There's really only one rule:  "The BM's image must be maintained at all costs.  Nothing is more important than this."

Pshaw!  Horse hockey!  Absolute absurdity projected from a false face. 

In the face of these rules:

a)  I reserve my right to support my co-workers.
b)  I maintain my ability to use my mind to name that which should be named.
c)  I encourage my heart to stay engaged in an environment that discredits such a thing
d)  I will speak on behalf of patients and their families as this is more important than any manager's image needs.

For years Gentiva put the following in its SEC filings:

"The company believes its relations with employees are generally good." 

It's clear the company and our local BM believe our site's employees are generally bad, thus the need for the "The Rules." It's their latest form of abuse.