Get Rid of the Energy Vampire(s) in Your Hospital

by Rebecca on March 2, 2014

Cartoon VampireThat is an awesome term isn’t it-energy vampires.  I had never heard that before until I was reading “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon and he describes energy vampires as those people who are gifted at being miserable and seemingly try their hardest to make those around them miserable too.

I bet you could name an energy vampire or two in your hospital.  Who are the ones that you think about after you leave work?  The ones who “if they only would…. Why do they…?”

The point is that though most of you like to fix things and make things better (or you probably would not be in veterinary medicine,) you cannot fix energy vampires!  But they will suck away your energy!  Some people just like to be miserable and it is not our job to FIX people-only animals.  People have to fix themselves.

I was talking to a supervising technician earlier this week and she was telling me that one of her doctors had printed out a previous post I had written about crazy being hard to see when you are living in it.  After, reading the post she knew she had to let someone on her staff go.

This technician was completely an energy vampire and becoming a huge drain on the supervising technician as well as the rest of the team.  The supervisor finally realized that trying to fix this person was never going to work and she would not let this energy vampire destroy the morale of the rest of her team any longer.

I have never been so happy to hear about someone losing a job-knowing that the team would be much happier without this miserable person, even if it meant they would be short staffed for awhile.  It is better to be tired from having to work a bit harder than to be emotionally drained from working with a toxic person.

Energy vampires will suck the life out of you and the rest of your team if you allow it to happen.  They can’t help themselves.  You have probably talked to them many times about their bad attitude and lack being a team player.  You come into work, just hoping they will have changed but odds are it will not happen.

The energy vampire must leave your hospital-it is time to free their future and let them go far away from you and your team.  If they are mad, just tell them I made you do it!

 Have you ever had to work with an energy vampire?  How did it feel when they finally left?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren Orvin March 9, 2014 at 4:15 pm

What do you do when you are powerless to change the team composition or leadership won’t take action?

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Rebecca March 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm

My honest answer is find a better situation. You can not change people who don’t want to or don’t care to change. I think this is one HUGE thing that is DESTROYING our profession- one small business at a time. TOO many owners don’t care or can’t be bothered to work on developing themselves and their teams. This is TRAGIC and there are many people who will suffer because of it.

I would say while you are where you are- bust your tail to be the best influence on others you can. Don’t let yourself fall into the cesspool of negativity that can take over animal hospitals. You can only control you and I know you well enough to know YOU ARE a positive influence to others! Don’t let them bring you down- you are better than that!!

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Daniela Iancu May 18, 2014 at 3:28 pm

I am sorry to disagree with you, but I read your post in Veterinary Economics and, though I appreciate your overall goal is the morale of the team, it prompted me to compose this reply:

The attitude of this article is callous and disregards the importance, and complexity, of looking at context. Not only is this counter to the compassionate nature of our field, it borders on irresponsible.

In my perspective, an “energy vampire” is an unhappy person who is stuck in a cycle of vocally focusing on – and therefore sharing – their unhappiness. There are many causes of unhappiness, and many of those (contrary to the author’s claim) CAN be changed. There are also many different coping tactics, and many of those can also be changed too.

My biggest concern with the author’s approach is that many “energy vampires” are likely suffering from mental health issues. I struggled with depression and anxiety in the workplace until I found an employer who supported me in getting help, and it has made my life and work tremendously better. Wouldn’t you rather be the kind of leader who helps people get the resources they need, instead of rejecting them because of their struggles? It is not only an issue of compassion, but ethics and legality.

A leader who has an “energy vampire” on their team should look at the context of that behavior. Is the leader providing clear communication, or is there a disconnect between their words and their actions? Is the leader’s expectation of their team members realistic? Are the team members working together to support each other in the same goal? Is there a pattern of staff turning into “energy vampires” after a certain number of years at the practice? Were there indications of these traits that were seen during the hiring process? And most importantly, is the “energy vampire” being openly spoken to about their behavior and its impacts, and a plan being put in place to help improve this behavior?

Certainly, each individual is responsible for themselves in the long run, and this also applies to “energy vampires.” If I were writing to a chronically unhappy employee at a practice, I would advise the following:
-Take a vacation to reset and see if you can come back with a more positive perspective.
-See your doctor or a mental health provider to see if you are suffering from a mental health issue. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and others are prevalent in the veterinary field, and there are things that can help.
-Talk to your manager about the external factors (the ones that are out of your control) that are feeding your unhappiness and see if they can help you find a better-matched role within the practice.
-Meet with a career counselor to explore what fields, roles, and cultures are the best match for you.
-And finally – if you are unhappy and feel like you should leave, then leave. Listen to your gut. Sometimes, moving on is what is best for everyone.

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Rebecca May 18, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Daniela- my intention was never to appear callous or uncaring but it is my experience that people have to take responsibility for their behavior. I believe or at least I have seen many vets including myself put a lot of time and energy into trying to help or fix people when at the end of the day this truly is their responsibility and not mine. In no way am I trying to downplay the issue of mental health issues and certainly getting people they help they need is important. Who I was referring to is the people who actually don’t really want to change their situation.
I hope this clarifies my perspective for you.

Thanks for commenting!

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