Toxic, backstabbing employee


Hello, it has been awhile since I have posted because I am so busy at work it is crazy. I began managing a new department at my Hospital. I have a lot of employees and responsibility. I love my job; it is rewarding and I am good at it. However, one of the supervisors that reports to me, has been subtly hostile toward me. He is trying to climb the ladder and has told people he deserves to report directly to the VP rather than a manager, and he thinks he should have gotten my job. (He does not have the appropriate, experience or education for the role)

I am well respected by the people who know me well, but I wonder if I can last through this. DH says I should not let him force me out of a just out of unhappiness and I know it is true. But it is truly intense and I have been miserable for months.

This person has been reprimanded by my boss and me due to: insubordination, poor work outcomes, and even misrepresenting us to his direct reports. He was put on our corporate performance improvement however there are quite a few steps before a person can be fired. That is good in some cases to protect people, in this case, it is an impediment and he works the system to be just bad enough to make my life miserable but not enough to be fired. Additionally he has tried to get me in trouble for things I have not done. However, he doesn’t out right accuse me of the falsehood, he poses things in a question format he will ask leading HR a questions like he is trying to help me. It is hard to explain without making this too long.

I love my job, and my company, but I am so sad going to work knowing that everyday will be another problem. I have managed people before, but never had such an insidious problem employee like this.

Anyone know any good prayers or advice for this kind of thing?



Document everything. If you have a supervisor who sees through this guy, make sure you let this person know what is going on.

And be really nice to everyone else. You will need allies in your workplace to survive this. It’s all about office politics.


Well, it sounds like he isn’t a real threat to you professionally, just a nuisance. I think the main thing would be to remain somewhat detatched and just don’t give him the reaction that he is wanting. Keep a log of all of his stunts. If there is something concrete that you can give him a warning for, then make sure that you give him a written warning. Otherwise, just treat it all in a professional manner, without showing even a hint of emotion. Focus on being a good actor if you need to. Just don’t give him any indication that he is getting to you personally. Either he’ll wear himself out, or will cross the line enough times to get himself fired.


Document everything. This person needs to be fired. Do what you can to make it happen.


i have had one of these kind of people under me and he was behaving very badly towards me too… he was constantly insubordinate and questioning my authority…
i did not know what to do as i am the lead in my position and i didnt want to rat him out to my company as he would lose his job… so all i did was made sure that i did everything right and did not stoop to his level… i even went so far as to support him on decisions that were right.
soon people started realising where he was coming from and where i was coming from and started ignoring him…
he even went to such extents as to steal hardware from my computer and make international phone calls from my extension…
however, he was caught and let go after a few months.
since i had been there for a year and a half before him, people knew that i could not do such a thing…
so hang in there my dear and things will get better. make sure that u do not do anything wrong and the rest will take care of it self.


Even Jesus had a toxic backstabbing employee.


awesome answer!!!:thumbsup: :thumbsup:


Gamera…You know you just gave me shivers. I appreciate a new perspective; it gives me something to focus on.

To reassure everyone, I am documenting everything.

The only reason why he could be professionally somewhat threatening is that our division is going through a reorganization. He also knows how to schmooze the right people.

I guess aside from the exhaustion that dealing with this can cause, I just want to assure I remain a good person focus on God. It can be easy to be tempted to be angry or to dislike someone so in a way I beat myself up. I pray regularly that I treat him professionally and I even pray for him.


I would strongly suggest “The Sociopath Next Door”. I believe the author is Martha Stout. This guy sounds like he might be a sociopath, and boy, can they be dangerous.* Sociopaths literally have no conscience.* They use the desire of normal people to get along and believe the best of everyone to their advantage. They are not psychopaths, and most of them never wind up in prison, even though their lives are literally one deception piled upon another. Moreover, they believe that other people a) think like they do, but won’t admit it or b) are idiots worthy of manipulation by smarter people. These are the people who truly think that marriage is just a legalized form of mutual prostitution. They have the emotional capacity of a lizard. Think of it as a mental disability, if you like, but learn what you need to know to guard against this guy.

Up to 1 in 20 of Americans fits the classic description of a sociopath. Their way of thinking is totally alien to the way a person with a normal brain thinks. Shivers down the spine hardly starts to describe their modes of operation. This book may save you from being blind-sided or feeling guilty about dealing with this person appropriately.


OP, Definitely protect yourself from this man and document as has already been said. Also fill yourself up periodically during the day with spiritual food. I had a coworker who at a previously hostile workplace had eaten lunch in her car daily to recharge with Christian music and prayer.

I think that praying the Angelus 3 times per day to refocus on the spiritual can help to put work into perspective sometimes. If you are close to a church/chapel, perhaps you could escape to noon mass once in a while, if not daily. Some people set their watch/phone alarm to ring at 3pm to remind them to stop and observe Divine Mercy. I remember my Baptist great grand aunt used to tell us children that we should remember 3pm was the hour when Our Lord died for us on the cross. It really puts our “problems” into perspective.

Finally, I would offer the suggestion that praying for the toxic person can help both of you. I made it part of my spiritual growth to pray frequently for an attorney who I faced almost weekly in heated cases. She would do unbelieveable things to try to win. She actually stood up and leaned across counsel table to scream in my face on one occasion while “objecting” to something. Her behavior would appear exaggerated or unrealistic if seen on a TV show.

I resolved to “syrup her to death” by searching for genuine things to compliment her on and speaking kindly to her outside of the courtroom while still fighting her tooth and nail in a professional manner on cases. I would ask about her “precious” son who was the apple of her eye. (Thank God for small children who are innocent and easy to love and admire.) I asked her to lunch/coffee and waited for the torture that actually never came.

I could not believe it but I effected a significant change in her in less than 3 months (with major help from the Holy Spirit, I’m sure). It turned out that she acted out of fear and somewhat poor self-esteem. She was not a bad person, but a misguided one who thought that she was offering a “zealous defense” to her clients.

While the OP may have a true sociopath on her hands, he could also be a person with deep personal problems that have led him astray in his zealousness to get ahead. It does not mean that she should let him run over her, but it might mean that some serious prayer warrior activity might help them both. I would have the whole family and my good friends add him to the prayer list, just in case!


My mom used to teach 4th grade, and she would teach this technique to her kids. She would assign certain kids to spend some time each day pleasantly talking to the problem child, finding genuine things to compliment them on, and really treating them like a real person. In every case, miraculous changes took place. As the self-esteem of the offending kid went up, they suddenly became friendlier and less toxic. Of course, I think kids may be more open to this than grown up, but just the same, I think it is always worth a try.


The good thing is that the best thing to do in both cases is to be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. You do not want a direct confrontation, in either case. You need not abandon your integrity, either. You do want to find out what kind of person you are dealing with. If the person is a sociopath, it may not be in your best interest to let on that you understand that, though.

The big difference, I suppose, is that a sociopath is not going to be changed and is capable of what a normal person would consider inexplicable behavior, if the end is to get back at someone they percieve as an enemy. This includes anyone who has the bad luck to have what the sociopath wants (and, therefore, deserves–these are incredibly self-centered people!) The level of deceit and manipulation they are capable of is hard to believe. You will no more reform them than you will make a wolf into a lap dog. On this account, a person should not deceive themselves.

While a normal person with the issues you described might respond well to being befriended or treated with civility, a sociopath may “play the game” to get you off your guard. They are very unpredictable and can be brutally and yet secretly vindicative. If a sociopath does not feel they can use you and doesn’t feel as if you pose a threat, though, they will very often ignore you. IOW, to a sociopath, there are enemies, pawns, and non-entities. They should be regarded as relentlessly predatory. You want to be off their radar, whenever possible. If not, let them think you an unsuspecting pawn they might find useful to treat well. Do not let them find you to have sought them out as an adversary. These are people with lizard brains who value victory even over self-preservation, and who are talented at both. It is a poor strategy to take them on directly.

The book I suggested will give some good advice on how to tell when you’re dealing with a sociopath. I highly reccommend it.


Quite honestly I believe he is a sociopath. He litterally told 3 of us in the department that between the ages of 6-12 he lived at home alone during the week, because his dad was a truck driver. He said he cooked, cleaned and would walk to school and the grocerystore. Then he said, to make money he started his own landscaping company (6-12 years old!) to buy the groceries because money was tight!

He said that is how he learned to be indpendant! This was before I was the manager of the dept, back then he was always overly complimentary to me. You are right too, because now he only minimally communicates with me.

He has only worked there for a year, I have worked there for 2.5 years, so he did not realise how many different people I was networked with and at one point he emailed a disparaging message about me and my friend forwarded it to me as an FYI. That is how I was able to get him into the corporate performance improvement process.

I will get that book. I will also continue to pray. I could probably get to noon time mass on occasion too.

I really appreciate all of the advice. My hope origionally was that he was just misguided and insecure, but it seems a bit more sinister than that.


Hope this too become a faith enhancing experience of that promise
’ all things work well for those who love God …’

and an occasion to experience the promise of Bl. Mother’s gifts -

that many , instead of being scared off by labels , can become more effective disciples …that sociopathy and other such ills , when having to be dealt with , could even be thought of also as - ’ scapular ( prayer) defeciency ’ - not trying to be simplistic or minimising the pressure and problems of O.P . - since other needed avenues have been dealt with in the helpful hints above .

It might be surprising to see how the focus shifts , when such blessed aids are used - as a call to intercede for many !


It has really helped me to find out about this kind of person. They are not insane, they are able to choose right and avoid wrong, and yet I cannot help but trust deeply that God will take their lack of an emotional connection to others and the absence of the consolation of feeling the emotion of love into account when their lives are reviewed. None of us can know what kind of person we might be, were we in their places.

The good thing is that it is not your job in this life to put him into a pigeonhole. It is your job to look down the road and possibly prevent him from doing harm to you and to others. That is the good end to be had in deciding whether or not he might be a sociopath. When his life is reviewed, you may show up in the story as a force for good in his life, if you find ways to quietly avoid giving him the opportunity, means, or motive to choose to work evil. Even if he is a sociopath, that does not mean he is damned. What we can do to prevent evil from being done, we do. The rest, we leave up to God. Knowing what we are up against and understanding the motives of others is merely a way to choose the path most likely to work in overall favor of the good.


You are already documenting. That is good. Keep doing it.

Second, keep your boss and HR updated on what is going on. Include them in any decisions you make. If you get their support and pre-aproval of your actions, you’ll be bullet proof.

Consider reassigning responsibilities (i.e. taking them away) from him. As long as he is insubordinate and demonstrates dishonesty, you are justified in removing responsibilities until he can be trusted. I’d bet it isn’t long before he quits or does something to get himself fired. Of course during this entire time encourage him to improve and document your suggestions to him on how to improve his performance.

Oh, make sure you keep cultivating that network.

My experience with this type of employee is that the situation usually resolves itselfn as long as you continue to act with integrity. I had an employee who continually complained about me to management. My problem was that she had been there longer than I had. They initially took her at her word. I started documenting what she was doing and anytime she was insubordinate or caused conflict with her peers, I reported it. Eventually she stepped over the line and got herself fired for an event not directly related to me.


I was in this same situation once and after doing all the documentation, I asked my boss’s boss for his approval to let the person go. He said yes and asked me why I waited so long. It had reflected badly on me that I let the situation go on so long in my attempts to turn the employee around.

My boss said that the boss’s boss said that the person must have FINALLY succeeded in pushing all of my buttons. [It was enough that if I given them the specifics they would have walked the person out the door right then and there.]


Give him very specific tasks with exact deadlines, tell him to keep you appraised of his progress or problems. If he comes to you with a problem help him solve it but don’t solve it for him. If the problem is big enough to delay the completion date reschedule the completion date. Be sure you have given him realistic time frames to accomplish the task. Document that you have given him the task and the deadline, give a copy of this documentation to him, the HR Dept. and your boss. Keep them up to date on the progress he is making or lack of it. If he fails to meet the deadline give all of those people formal notification of his failure. His success or failure should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Above all do not single him out for doing the ‘undesirable’ tasks or treat him any differently than you do the people you feel are doing a good job. Do not let other employees know of your problems with him. Don’t let him under your skin. As soon as he finds out that he is not going to get away with his antics and that he will be held accountable for his work there is a good chance he will either shape up and become a good employee or become frustrated and move on to another company.


Thanks for the tip, I will order this book today. I’ve encountered this type of person and have been blind-sided because of my lack of understanding. I need this book!


Pumpkin, I think you’re already dealing very well with the situation. Please don’t let him affect you too much and it should be fine. He may be a grumpy person with a sad life and strong emotional impulses towards the Dark Side. :wink: Or he may be a genuine sociopath. Or have personality/mental issues. Can’t really say. I think trying to be unaffected by his pleasantries should be the best approach but the most difficult (partly because you wouldn’t be seeing any progress on a day-by-day basis). But developing a bit of a tougher skin and taking him with a pinch of salt could help. How does he treat other people? If it seems to be something between you and him, you could request a transfer for him.

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