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.