Toxic Workplace

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Toxic Workplace
« on: September 14, 2017, 11:37:22 AM »
Hi Everyone,
I am working on strategies to talk to my boss about a toxic employee without coming across as a complainer/ tattletale, etc. Can I have some advice? Here is the situation:

Toxic employee is controlling and manipulative, A lot of people see this but the boss is clueless or in denial. Two people have quit. I would not be surprised if she is borderline PD. She also does quite well at work other than her personality- she's a hard worker, pretty smart (not as smart as she thinks), etc. The boss has a blind spot and does not believe and cannot believe her personality is a problem. I have some hard examples I can take to him, but he's just clueless. Here are some things she regularly does:

- lies. little things like "people say you're hard to work with" or "so and so said you refused to work with them on this" things that are hard to document, or don't seem significant enough to complain about
- divide and conquer (see above) she tries to insert herself into work relationships and tries to make people hate each other and take her "side"
- Undermining/ discrediting people. she does this through lying, and talking behind people's backs. She even does this to the boss- if he has an initiative, she will go around telling people things like "why does he want to do that?" "no one else is doing that" (the wording is important- she is trying to manipulate other people into saying something bad so she can repeat it, she does not come out and say it herself
- general rude and aggressive behavior that he just doesn't get. She can even say, in front of him, "so and so is full of shit!" and he won't flinch and he just sort of thinks she's expressing her opinion and that's great!
- she inserts herself into situations where is it not appropriate- i.e. trying to manage his direct reports, and he pretty much lets her.
- she bonds with people over negative things- misery loves company, so gossiping, complaining about other people, etc.
- she purposely gets reactions from the boss by recognizing he will react to people not trusting him so she will say things link "so and so thinks we can't do this!" (when it isn't true) and then he will react by saying NO WAY! and believing everything and thinking at least she is on his side.

In other words, he is easily manipulated, and she is taking advantage of that and taking over. She needs boundaries, and he doesn't get it. I want to talk to him and try and get him to recognize the toxic behavior and suggest he set a positive tone and set boundaries. I'm worried that he will think I'm just complaining or that I can't work with her. Someone already told him she's hard to work with and he was totally shocked. She has a reputation for pushing him around. He just cannot see it, it is weird!

 Advice on how I can talk to him? I have some clout but not as much as the toxic person, but do think he values my ideas. He also thinks some of this gossip/ complaining is because women are just catty in general (eye roll) but even if he is clueless about a lot, I do like him and think he is a nice person who wants the best for the workplace.



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Re: Toxic Workplace
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2017, 01:51:49 PM »
Had a co-worker like that.  Definitely a narc although I'm not sure if she was NPD.  But no one liked her and I mean no one--except the manager.  They were best friends.  They would socialize together.  For some reason, the manager was "taken" with her and would support her no matter what.  The thing is, she seemed aware of some of the issues, but would never confront or address them.  I know I spoke directly with her about it and I believe some other people did as well, but mostly we didn't bother because we knew what a lost cause it was.  I even told my manager that she didn't want to see the problem because she was friends with this person.  Silence.

From my experience, and maybe this is what's going on in your workplace, the manager didn't want trouble and was willing to look the other way as long as the work got done.  It didn't matter how or even if it was done particularly well, just as long as it was something she didn't have to worry about.  I, and I believe others, came to the realization that the manager thought she was protecting herself by protecting this employee.  If she admitted there was something wrong, it would be like admitting that she was wrong, and she couldn't do that since she had a very high opinion of herself, as well.  Meanwhile, back in the real world, the rest of us had to deal with this narc the best we could and most of us dealt with her by avoiding her as much as possible and not covering for her.  One of the things she'd gotten used to was having the manager cover for or make excuses for her mistakes.  The rest of us refused.  It didn't make the situation better, or even change things, but it took us out of the line of fire in case push came to shove.  Sometimes covering for someone else as a way of keeping the peace can backfire and lead to an accusation of knowing what was going on and not addressing it.  Doesn't matter that it's ultimately the manager's responsibility to address problems.  Often fingers have a way of getting pointed at you.

Unfortunately, you may have to do what I did--learn to live with the situation and make sure your own work is the best you can do (since these types love pointing out the mistakes of others as a way of deflecting attention from themselves).  Only share what information needs to be shared in order to do the job, but otherwise keep a distance.  She'll be looking for victims/accomplices, and she may find them from time to time but overall, most people will get wise to her and stop wanting to associate with her except as absolutely necessary.  She may or may not get the hint (likely not since NPDs never see anything they do as wrong) but you can hope that she gets tired of her little games (because playing them must be exhausting when you think of all the constant mental gymnastics they go through) and move on.  Sometimes you just have to give up any attempt to control the situation and just let the chips fall where they may.  I would hope not but it often seems to be truer than not.

I don't know if this helps but I hope it does a little bit because I know how miserable it can be to be in your situation--you're not alone in this, and the situation isn't unique.



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Re: Toxic Workplace
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2017, 07:10:43 PM »
I have worked in situations like this and heard it from countless other people some posting on here. Its very difficult situation dealing with PDs in the workplace. Very hard. I agree with what Clara posted.

I would be very careful before you act. You might not get the reaction you want from him and it might backfire on you. I have seen it happen twice, where a member of staff have complained about a fellow toxic worker ( she was a classic BPD queen to me. She wouldnt speak to me for weeks for a perceived slight) to a boss and his life was made hell when she discovered what he had done.  He eventually left.  A second time a worker complained about a bullying toxic boss probably a sociopathic narc , that ended up with her being made redundant at the next cull of staff. The only one. She knew it was coming after she complained about him. He got his revenge.

Your boss maybe in denial, or maybe does not want to confront her, because of the consequences for him. Think about it from from his point of view. He s waying up the risk. If the PD is really hopeless at the job, its easier for bosses to act. But when they are relatively good at their jobs, they overlook the bad atmosphere they produce.

As long as the work gets done, as already said, thats all they worry about, not work atmospheres, gossip, morale etc.

You are assuming he  will act accordingly, like a good manager would, from the good manager textbook when confronted with the facts. I wouldnt be so sure on the basis of what you are saying about him. The problem from his point of view is that you just dont get on with her.  Just office politics and women bitching.

Its a very tricky one. Many people have been through it. The PD/bully doesnt always get their comeuppance. They generally stay and everyone else leaves.

Good luck!!!