Gossip and Office Politics
The political climate and culture of your unit should be set by the management, but sometimes it is the “old guard” or long-timers who seem to have an upper hand in the way things get done. That isn't to say that the management isn't effective or is a pushover. It just usually means that there are one or two staff members who have a strong sense of entitlement because they have been there forever. They have paid their dues and get first choice at the perks, such as holidays and scheduled meal breaks. Sometimes they are R.N.s and sometimes they are nursing assistants, so it isn't always rank that gets or expects the privileges.
Your best option as the new kid on the block is to sit back, listen, and observe. Watch the dance. While sitting back can be frustrating, it can also be amusing to see who kisses up to who and why. You will see who aligns with who and who has more credibility. You'll learn who you can trust and around who you need to be very careful what you say.
Don't get caught up in the gossip, but pay attention to what is being said and by who to avoid becoming a topic yourself. Understand the lay of the land. Gossip is an inherent part of almost every workplace. You may not be able to avoid it. Listen politely and move on. You won't have enough information as a new member of the staff to distinguish all that is true and what isn't, so it's best to try not to make judgments based on what you hear. Give people the benefit of the doubt and form your own opinions based on firsthand experiences. Try to be fair and equal in your treatment of all your coworkers. Look for the good in everyone and avoid bad-mouthing anyone.
If you have a conflict, try to be direct and discuss it calmly and rationally in private with the person(s) involved. If you can't resolve it, see if you can at least agree to disagree and move on. If it is affecting your performance, you may have to speak to your supervisor, but again do this in private and in confidence. Ask for his advice on how to solve the problem rather than blaming or bad-mouthing the other person. Don't become emotional, but stay calm and focused.
Some of your coworkers are going to see you as a threat because you represent new blood and new ideas. Some people just don't like change. And others will be jealous if your ideas are considered while theirs are sidelined.
Others will see you as a gosling to take under their wing and mold into a similar version of themselves. Some might smother you and others can be quite helpful.
The truth is, you will learn something from everyone you work with. Try to stay focused on your own beliefs and goals and try not to get swept up in the plan for making you a clone of another nurse.
Build relationships with your coworkers. Some of them will develop into lifelong friendships as well as professional relationships. Don't be afraid to become friends with your boss, but remember that she is your boss and you need to maintain a professional relationship as well. Don't take advantage of personal friendships to gain professional stature or to promote unfair politics.
Always keep your head about you and follow your gut instincts and common sense. Some new nurses doubt their instincts, when in fact most of the time they shouldn't. Just because a colleague advises you to do something a certain way, if you aren't comfortable about it, chances are good that it may not be right. Don't readily assume that this person is correct or that he has some hidden agenda to discredit you, but tactfully seek a second opinion. And then tactfully explain why it was a wrong move for you if the person questions why you ignored his advice.
As you make friends and build relationships within your facility, you need to keep in mind that others will judge you by the friends you keep. You should be open and accepting of all your coworkers, but take care in choosing your close relationships.