Compliments of Nehama Verter via Flickr

Compliments of Nehama Verter via Flickr

Bad apples, loose cannons, clanging pots, people who cry wolf. Historically, troublemakers (TMs) have been characterized under rubrics of varying similitude. But they all boil down to the same thing: individuals being disruptive in an attempt to feel and make themselves look important. It’s rare to find a technically skilled live wire; typically, TMs fit the profile of people with time on their hands, and little to show for their laziness.

A deflection technique (of complaining about others) diverts the boss’s attention from giving the crafty schemer further scrutiny. TMs assume the dual role of both informant and prosecuting attorney – all done behind the scenes, and within the confines of closed doors. They are instrumental in choosing scapegoats, and on jumping on the bandwagon when their peers are the target. I think that troublemakers are easiest to spot by the behaviors from which they refrain. These include:

(1)    Refusing to gossip

(2)    Coming to the defense of bullied coworkers

(3)    Solving problems directly with affected parties

(4)    Demonstrating organizational citizenship

(5)    Promoting/complimenting/encouraging others

(6)    Acting humbly

(7)    Congratulating their peers

(8)    Championing the cause of someone who helped them

(9)    Acting as peacemaker

(10)  Apologizing

(11)  Admitting they’re wrong

Professional pot stirrers are always a step away from hurting someone’s feelings; which, when this occurs, they triumphantly yell: SCORE! Sadists under cover of trying to improve something else wreak havoc. If you as manager see this pattern unfolding, wake up and smell the coffee. Someone with their own “best,” and the organization’s worst interests at heart is asking you to breakfast.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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