I have been beating myself up over the past several years because I’ve been told my expectations are too high, and that I am seeking perfection. I have had two educators leave over it, and a third one complain about it on a fairly consistent basis. While it is not common knowledge that the educators have left for this reason, this is the only area of my annual performance evaluation where I have ever received coaching. This year I decided to address it in my self-evaluation for my annual performance evaluation. What I wrote was included in the “Values” section as follows:
I have continuously been a passionate advocate for using X practice as a method of increasing patient safety for children at both the local level and the national level. While I know that I may not be seen as a patient person, I have been very patiently waiting for the resources to be able to implement a X program that would increase the knowledge and skills of area General ED’s ability to care for the pediatric patient. My commitment to excellence for the patients, which is a combination of my passionate advocacy and my high expectations of both myself and others, is what drives me. I apply logic and strategy when making decisions, always attempting to look at how a decision will impact the program several steps down the road. It could be all of the aforementioned that contributes to my lower marks in People and Personal Leadership with those who work with me on a daily basis, because I know that is where I have had challenges. I do have difficulty “lowering” my standards, when there are many people with whom I do not have to do that. Most people see me very differently – people with whom I collaborate regularly here, as well as those who work with me virtually with periodic F2F meetings. In ongoing efforts to be self-aware, I seek feedback often, and it is only with my daily co-workers with whom I appear to have issues. I work best with high functioning/achieving teams, and I am very aware that is not the norm.
So all of that to say that I know where I function best, and that I understand that I need to continue to work on being flexible with my expectations of others.
I consulted with a friend who is a medical director of another program, regarding this issue, who asked me a series of questions. She had asked me for examples of the things that had happened with the other educators. There are/were performance issues, and I had a right to be irritated. She said that when I go in for my yearly evaluation, I need to amend what I wrote, because the problem is not that my expectations are too high.
Ultimately, I am not seeking perfection, because I am very aware that doing so can become the downfall of any individual or team. I have a responsibility to improve the program, and to impact the care of our patients. I create strategies and improve systems. (In a previous post, I refer to my meds bringing out the INTJ in me. Boy, did it!) What I desire is for people to perform their job to a level that meets the goals that I have set for our program, which is to elevate it, to conduct research, innovate, and to improve our quality and patient safety metrics. The performances that I have witnessed will not yield that. What I have seen is the same shit that has existed since this organization was just a community hospital, because these educators were here when this hospital was still that size. It is now a Level I trauma center of almost 8,000 employees. I have recently explained this to the educator that I have left.
The kicker: if someone knows something or has a better idea, I will listen. I am actually very flexible and open. No one seems to understand that. I’m about effectiveness and efficiency, but few people seem to think through things to see all of the barriers and contingencies. As a result, I end up looking like the asshole with the too high standards.
The following are areas where I take full responsibility and, with the second, I have some difficulty understanding:
- I do admit that I have issues with willful ignorance and laziness, and because I am comfortable with criticism and don’t need to be told “good job” and complimented every time I do something, I am bad about giving positive feedback to others. I am working on that. I also take responsibility for how I say things in general sometimes. I can come across as…arrogant(?) or as I’ve been told an “elitist.” That is never my intention. Here is the deal – I am confident in what I know, because I read obsessively about the things that interest me, and even some things that don’t. If I do not know something, I will readily admit it, BUT, if I do know something, and you are incorrect, I may correct you or give you an odd look. That upsets people. I am trying to work on that. I do know I can be an ass, even though I don’t mean to be.
- I want people to operate from a place of facts and logic, and they don’t. (I don’t understand that, but it seems pretty pervasive.) Sometimes I try to explain that I am just trying to operate from facts, and that I’m not trying to insult anyone and make them look stupid, but that the person is now functioning from a place of emotion and that’s when it gets ugly. I just want people to think, without getting too emotional. (And I say that having a bipolar diagnosis.) Ex: The other day, something was said, I corrected the fact. Later, the person who spoke wanted to know why I corrected her. I said, the fact was wrong. It wasn’t to make her look stupid; I was just correcting the fact. The person was upset. I reiterated that I was just correcting the fact, that it wasn’t to make her look stupid. It was just an error of fact. I was first called elitist, and then later childish. UGH. I don’t understand. I guess I need to really work on this. I’ll just let people walk around spewing incorrect “facts.” “Alternative facts.” How apropos for the times.
I am not as much of an asshole as Sherlock though. I hope I’m nicer to my Watson, at least.