Badmouthing Teammate

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a teammate who badmouths another team member.

I have a teammate, who is usually watching what I do while performing my job, then he speaks badly about me to the rest of the team and to the Boss without providing the advice to correct mistakes. We are supposed to work as a team. The rest of team is always trying to help each other to accomplish and do the work perfectly. Is there anything I can do with him?

Signed, Badmouthed

Dear  Badmouthed:

You don’t really have a teammate. Rather you have a coworker in your work group, one who criticizes. This might not be his fault because probably he has been programmed to point up mistakes and gossip–programmed by the way he grew up as a kid and as he has progressed in his career. Is there anything you can do to change his behavior? Maybe not, at least you should realize that habits are habits and not changed easily.

However here are some alternate and overlapping options:

1. Confront him. Tell him how you feel. Briefly describe the last few times he bossed you and what you were told he said about you. Ask him if he realizes what he’s been doing? Tell him you want to learn from his suggestions if he has them, but that you want him not to gossip about you from now on. Be firm and ask if he will stop what bossing and criticizing and will come directly to you first.

2. Talk with your boss. Tell him how you feel about your criticizing/badmouthing coworker. Say you would like to work in a team–a real supportive, help each other be efficient and effective high performance team. Ask how this might happen–what the boss might do and you might do. It is a boss’ job to handle trouble-making subordinates.

3. Don’t report on your criticizing/gossiping coworker. Rather, propose that your work group meet to improve the quality of its performance. Suggest that a start in that directions should be clarification of who does what.Your work group might a team might form a chart for each member that you can make with the following four categories:

Employee Abe’s Job –Who assigned the task –Who should be informed/consulted — With whom must you collaborate –Who is responsible to approve and/or evaluate Task A Task B Task C .

Another way to become more of a team is to collaboratively focus on how it might cut wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy and wasted money. By indirectly working on job definition clarification and cutting waste, you as a group can transform working solo to working as a team. These are just a few suggestions for you to weigh. They will take courage. Each of them is better than simply biting your tongue.Your badmouthing member might see you as active and constructive, and his criticism would lessen.

Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that’s what you want–an employee-friendly where you want to work.

William Gorden