Dealing With A Negative Contractor

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being trash-talked:

I need your opinion in this situation. I work in the food industry. I recently moved to another group in my company. In this group, we have 3 contractors and 3 full time employees including me. I have been with this group almost 3 months. I built a very good relation with everyone in the group and outside the group.

However, one of the contractors that I dealt with in some small projects has started to trash me behind my back to other employees. Some of those employees have warned me about the stuff she keeps saying about me, saying I don’t know anything, I am incompetent, I got hired wrong for this group, and I shouldn’t be working here. Also, she went to my manager and did the same thing.

I tried to set up a time with her and to see how we can solve our differences, but she refused meeting with me. My coworkers keep telling me all those stories and I am not sure what to do. Should I talk to HR and say I been harassed? Please advise.

Signed, Diced and Sliced

Dear Diced and Sliced:

You first need to meet with your manager. A manager’s job is to help those in her/his charge to work effectively, and you can’t be maximally effective if one of your contractors is badmouthing you. Be up front with your manager about the complaints you have heard this individual has made. Acknowledge that this bothers you because you want to do the best possible work and ask for an investigation.

Your manager should enlighten you specifically what are the contractor’s complaints and help you prevent or correct them. If not she/he possibly can schedule a three-way meeting to confront this. Also, your manager should have, if she/he has not already, requested that the contractor stop the badmouthing. Complaints should be brought and worked through between the contractor and you, and if not should be reported to her/him. If this cannot be resolved, then you could consult Human Resources. You are naturally unhappy about this talk behind your back.

Sometimes we must steel ourselves because there are unchangeably difficult coworkers, bosses, or outside suppliers or distributors. This contractor situation, however, should be resolvable. Don’t become obsessed or gossip endlessly about it. Be as positive and professional as is reasonably possible. Working together with skilled hands, smart head and warm heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden