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How do I handle a colleague who’s abusive to our employer?

Friday November 15 2019

In the workplace, such people can spread negative energy and make the environment very toxic.

In the workplace, such people can spread negative energy and make the environment very toxic. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

I  was recently placed in a team with a colleague who is very negative and always has bad things to say about the company we work for. As a result, the entire team’s motivation has been affected, and I fear that my productivity will also go down. How can I handle this situation amicably?

In life there are people who look at the glass as half full, and those who look at it as half empty. It is important to understand that most people behave according to their level of exposure, and their past experiences. Are you aware of any challenges at the workplace that could be stimulating this negative energy? Is the workplace environment conducive? What about the relationship between members of different departments? Does your organisation have a forum where employees are free to give feedback on their level of engagement and satisfaction? If there isn’t, approach your line manager and HR to address any issues that are affecting your work.

How close are you to your colleague? Could he be deflecting challenges he is experiencing in his personal or social realm? His behaviour in the office could be a sign of an underlying challenge that needs intervention. If this is the case, your colleague needs to be treated with compassion, and if possible, refer him to HR or advise him to talk to a counsellor who will unpack the hidden issues.

In the workplace, such people can spread negative energy and make the environment very toxic. That said, always remember that you were recruited to the organisation as an individual. You must never forget your motivation for reporting to work every day or allow a colleague to poison your mind about the company that pays your bills and provides you with a career and livelihood.

You must have heard of employees who commit suicide due to life’s challenges, so please take this matter seriously and find a way of convincing your colleague to get help. Does your colleague feel appreciated as an important member of the team? In your own small way, you can influence decisions and make the workplace a happier place. If, despite your effort your colleague does not improve, you can choose to walk away whenever he starts to bad-mouth the company. This will be a strong indication that you are not interested in the conversation.

Perhaps he should also consider looking for an alternative employer because it is pretentious to report to work every day to a company which he thinks very lowly of. Maybe he is taking things his employer for granted for his own reasons. In this case, stepping out and getting another job will give him an opportunity to compare his current employer with the other, and help him make an informed decision on which one gives him more fulfilment.

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Jane Muiruri - Senior HR Manager, Nation Media Group; [email protected] 

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