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I have been at this healthcare company for 2 years now. The team consists of 4 professional staff reporting to a director. I have a total experience of about 20 years in this field.

The director and I didn't get along at first. She didn't like to address issues (such as giving me the number of PTO days at the beginning of the year and telling me how I could use them), and had one favorite in particular who seemed to know inside information. I just played along and did my job well because this is a really good job and a good company.

A new college graduate joined about a year ago. She kept making many mistakes that I kept fixing. When I tried telling her a couple of times what the issue was, she complained to the director I was being mean to her. The director's response to this was, "Well, she can't handle not being right, so don't tell her. Let me know when she makes mistakes and I will talk to her."

Since I didn't want to make more enemies, I didn't complain to the boss. I just fixed whatever I could and kept quiet.

Over the past one year, the girl kept putting people down. The boss tried putting her in place several times. The girl got close to the other girl who was the boss' favorite. The two have started bothering people together, especially me.

My relationship with the director improved a lot. She realized what was going on, and right then, she quit. Thus, I am left with these two coworkers who create a toxic environment and a third coworker who is afraid to speak up. A new director is going to be hired soon.

I have considered leaving because the place is so toxic. However, it seems silly to leave a good job over the nonsense of two people. My boss' boss is a financial guy who wouldn't have the patience or time to get into this issue, and rightfully so.

How should I handle this situation?

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    I always give a bad situation 6 months to work itself out and then decide. As long as the situation is tolerable and check clears the bank. – paparazzo Nov 13 '16 at 0:28
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    How is this a 'good job'? – Kilisi Nov 13 '16 at 1:24
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    Are you now in the position of seniority, which is why you are asking for advice on this? Not sure what has changed since your supervisor left. – Burhan Khalid Nov 13 '16 at 5:15
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    You were asked to not fix the girl's mistakes and you did. Consider that your director may have wanted ammunition against her (when she made mistakes) and you prevented that. – gnasher729 Nov 13 '16 at 7:03
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    Can you give the actors in this question fake names? I think this would improve the question a lot, especially for non native readers. – Daniel Jour Nov 13 '16 at 12:52
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First, stop fixing others' mistakes! You are enabling the monstrous behavior, because she's come to expect you to get her out of messes she makes. Once you do that, she'll have no choice but to direct any problems to the new boss. The boss may then delegate to you to take authority. Right now, you've taken it upon yourself with no authority, and it's dragged you down. Don't repeat your past mistake.

Your co-worker will raise hell with your new approach but for results (and for the truth to come out) you'll have to stick to your guns. You won't have to tell the new boss a thing; he / she will see for himself.

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    If you fix her mistakes behind her back, it looks like she is a faultless worker (which she isn't) and you take too much time to do your job (because you waste time fixing her mistakes). Don't do that. – gnasher729 Nov 13 '16 at 7:05
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    The company will have to 'eat' it. – Xavier J Nov 13 '16 at 14:29
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    AGH! What the heck?! No, advising someone in the healthcare industry to "stop fixing others' mistakes!" is TERRIBLE advice! I can understand needing to find a different way to handle this that doesn't enable them, but saying, "The company will have to 'eat' it" because you didn't fix a transcription error in medical data and it caused someone to die? – Kevin Jan 8 at 19:20
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    @Kevin she SHOULD stop fixing other's mistakes... but she should also raise it with the boss (as her ex-boss told her to do) so that the mistake doesn't go unnoticed... – xLCaliburn Jan 8 at 20:03
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    No, she shouldn't stop fixing mistakes that could cost lives. She should alter her approach so that it doesn't also enable the mistake-makers to keep making the same mistakes. You can do the second without stopping the first. – Kevin Jan 9 at 0:13
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Wait until a few months after the new director takes charge.

As someone with your level of experience certainly knows, each person has a different management style. Let the new director settle down for a while. See if he deals with the situation differently, for example, by reprimanding the "troublemakers" or by resolving the underlying issues that lead them to creating nuisance.

Until then, keep away from their nuisance and keep the business moving along (by fixing their mistakes, or whatever else that is needed). It sounds from your description that you can bear with doing this for a while. Make sure to give an objective report to your new boss about all the major "fixes" and incidents.

For completeness and clarity, let me also mention: do not complain to the new boss soon after he joins about the old issues. Your new boss doesn't know about the old baggage you are carrying so it makes you look like a whiner.

How long you wait depends on your patience. If you run out of patience before you see improvements, or if things get worse under the new boss, then start looking for other options.

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    When fixing their mistakes, document it. Make sure there is a record... – Tim B Nov 13 '16 at 11:07
  • Thanks for your response, you have a good point. I was just going to plug along until the new boss settles in, try to not get distracted with the drama. I cannot tell you how difficult it is, given that this is becoming about self-respect when I have been put down so many times after working so hard. I do believe they are being threatened by me, hence all the manipulations. – Betty33 Nov 13 '16 at 22:19
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Uh, you've got a few different problems you're having to deal with at the moment:

  • You've got a coworker making lots of mistakes.
  • You've got a coworker that's causing interpersonal strife.
  • You've got a coworker that you don't have a productive communication channel with.
  • You've got a boss that you can't talk to (technically, your former boss' boss is now your boss, until he hires someone for the management level between the two of you.)
  • You're in a situation where mistakes can cost lives.

So, you're absolutely right in fixing the mistakes. Please don't let someone "deal with it", where 'it' is the cost of making a life-changing or life-ending mistake.

But that's where things start going wrong - what approach you're doing while you're fixing the mistake. As you've been shown, talking with the people making the mistake isn't productive in this case. Instead of improving and not making the mistake again, they're raising drama about the issue. And one thing your situation should drill home: if you're not the person's boss, you can't force change in behavior. This is where the boss is needed.

I can understand why you're reluctant to get the former boss' boss involved. So here's what I'd recommend to try to solve as many of those problems as possible:

First up - email your boss' boss something like this:

Tim,

Hi - we've been having problems with repeated mistakes in our area. Our prior director asked me to inform them when there were mistakes being made so they could try to figure out a better way of handling it. Is it okay if I CC you on the emails about these mistakes until we get a director hired above us? With the idea that you can copy these over to the new director when they're hired?

... and assuming they're okay with this, every time you correct a mistake:

To: Alice

CC: Tim

Alice, please make sure you double-check the dosing medication against the chart. The amount of meds forwarded in the pharmacy instructions was only half the required dosage.

At this point, Alice is likely going to be angry. Not only are you 'being mean', but you're cc'ing higher-ups while doing it. But here are the things you need to keep in mind:

  1. You haven't been able to have a productive avenue of communication with her verbally. Simply talking about things with her is not an option for you - because it doesn't work.
  2. You want to be as absolutely unemotional and professional as possible. It's entirely possible Alice will send a Reply All trying to verbally blast you. Don't reply. Simply do your job, and send emails when needed about mistakes.
  3. You're shooting for getting the mistakes to stop. Maybe this alone will. Maybe it'll take a new manager coming in, getting forwarded the emails, and having a talk with Alice.
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