How to Handle a Sneaky Troublemaker at Work

Troublemakers often play more than they work.
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Most people at your job act in a professional manner, but some seem to enjoy being troublemakers at any chance they get. Your office troublemaker might sneakily cause fights and arguments between coworkers by spreading gossip and sharing rumors -- true or not. She may spend so much time causing problems that she doesn't get her work done. A workplace troublemaker loves to slack off and poisons your entire team with her actions, costing your company time and money. Even if you don't have the authority to officially punish your coworker, you can still get her to change her trouble-making ways.

    Step 1

    Identify the troublemaker at your job. Coworkers can cause trouble in several ways. For example, your coworker might spread rumors, flirt with those in charge to gain favor, leave work before completing her tasks or have an annoying know-it-all attitude.

    Step 2

    Refuse to go along with the troublemaker if she asks you to do something wrong or bad for the company. If you help the troublemaker, she'll have someone to blame if she gets caught. Don't give her the satisfaction of making you a scapegoat.

    Step 3

    Walk away when the troublemaker tries to gossip or tell you a nasty rumor, and advise your other coworkers to do the same. If she doesn't have a willing audience, the troublemaker will have little reason to gossip.

    Step 4

    Avoid responding when the troublemaker makes a rude comment or acts like a know-it-all. If you respond to her, she'll thrive on the attention. Instead of verbally responding, give your coworker a steely glare when she has an attitude problem. If she's at all paying attention, she'll realize you're not going to tolerate her behavior.

    Step 5

    Hold your coworker accountable if she leaves work early and something goes wrong because of it. Ask her to return to work and fix the problem her absence created. If you have the authority, consider issuing consequences, such as a write-up, for leaving work before being dismissed.

    Step 6

    Talk to the troublemaker privately. Make sure she understands how her behavior affects others. Speaking for yourself, explain how her coworkers feel about what she does. Teach the troublemaker that her actions are disruptive or hurtful to coworkers.

    Step 7

    Reward your coworker when she refrains from causing trouble. For example, if she normally has a rude attitude during meetings but acted professionally at your latest get-together, praise her. You might say "I know Jim's idea was ridiculous, but you didn't yell at him or call him names for it. We all appreciate that. Thank you for being polite."

    Step 8

    Talk to your boss about the troublemaker. If possible, gather other coworkers who have problems with the troublemaker and talk to your boss together. Explain, in detail, how the troublemaker affects your work. The troublemaker might change her ways after the boss has a talk with her.


    • If you're in charge of interviewing and hiring people at your company, you might be able to weed out troublemakers before they become your employees. Conduct very thorough interviews and listen carefully to the applicant's responses to your questions. Calling her references can be very revealing. If you have the budget, have a consultant conduct background checks on applicants who make it through the interview process.

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