Employee smiles to your face, then trashes you behind your back
No matter how good morale is, there are always some employees with negative attitudes.
The worst may be those who offer sweet smiles to your face – and then badmouth you or the company to other employees.
It can tarnish a manager’s image, undermine his or her authority and crush morale.
That’s the situation manager Katie Adams faced when she heard a worker badmouthed her to others.
She did okay, but…
“So how did Mandy do on that special assignment she did for you?” asked fellow manager Jason White.
“The final product was pretty good…” said Katie.
“Uh-oh, sounds like there’s a big ‘but’ coming,” said Jason.
Being trashed on the grapevine
“Yeah, let’s just say she needed more direction than anyone else who has done this kind of work for me,” said Katie. “Why are you so curious?”
“Well, I’ve heard through the grapevine that she’s really been trashing you to other employees,” said Jason.
“She’s what!?!” said Katie. “I bent over backwards for her.”
“She told everyone you threw her to the wolves,” said Jason. “You dropped the product in her lap and the company provided no guidance. Of course, she put it in cruder terms.”
Snake in the grass?
“Are we talking about the same Mandy Johnson?” asked Katie.
“The Mandy I worked with was polite, demure and a bit naive.”
“One and the same,” said Jason.
“I don’t know what to say. I’ve had six people do this project in the past year. I’ve given them all the same guidelines an support. And they all did it well,” said Katie.
“I gave Mandy three times the coaching and had to answer an endless stream of e-mail from her,” she said. “And she came to me personally to thank me for helping her so much.”
“What a two-faced, back stabbing snake in the grass!” said Katie.
The big question
Katie was angry. She didn’t like someone unfairly badmouthing her.
Should she call Mandy in and confront her about the comments? Or should she just let it go and not stir things further?
If you were in Katie’s situation, what would you do? One of the ideas below offered by our readers might provide you with some guidance.
Uncover the truth and get back to business
What Mandy said would’ve confused me quite a bit. So I’d confront her very calmly to find out why she said I had thrown her to the wolves and that she didn’t get any help from the company. I’d want to know what the real issue was behind he comments. It’s possible she didn’t understand the assignment. Maybe she was trying to get back at me for something else. Or, maybe she really did have a justifiable reason for saying what she said. Whatever the answer, I’d try to get to the bottom of it and take steps to move on from there.
Don Hines, Safety Director, Nor-son, Inc., Baxter, MN
Take steps to be the peacemaker
I’d retrace my steps to make sure I’d given Mandy everything she needed to complete her assignment. Then, I’d meet with her and ask how the project had gone. I’d tell her what I heard from my fellow manager. If she admitted she’d said it, I’d ask her why she said it. The critical thing is to understand what motivated her to say what she said, especially if you thought she was the right person for the job and thought you had a good working relationship. Obviously something isn’t right, so I’d want to take steps to smooth things out if that was possible and get things back on track.
Rick Jouett, Director of Employment, Career Development Washington University, St Louis MO