How to deal with a workplace snitch
Make no mistake about it any company with more than one employee will have a workplace snitch. If the company you work for has several different departments you can be guaranteed there are snitches in each of them. But what is a snitch, and more specifically, what is the motivation behind this behavior, and aside from a “snitches get stitches” mentality, how do you deal with one in your workplace?
Going through elementary school, I had an elderly British spinster for a principal. While she was fair and strict she also liked to say things like “Nobody likes a tattletale” or “Don’t be a tell tale tit”. The last phrase probably coming from the book The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. In school, we quickly learned that a tell tale, tattletale, or a snitch was someone that would inform the teacher or principal about the behavior of others. Vengence often was dished out in the schoolyard or if the offender was found to be walking home alone. The same holds true in your workplace, except in this case the snitch is telling the boss about the behavior of you and your colleagues and settling the matter in the parking lot will often get you fired or charged with assault.
Having trustworthy coworkers tends to a key factor in the success of any company or department. Having one problem employee can often throw a team off balance and it will often show up as lost productivity. While having a snitch around may benefit some types of bosses, it tends to destroy company morale. Who wants to be friendly when you know someone in the company is stabbing people in the back? In the U.S. alone, millions of dollars are lost each year in training recruits all because a snitch changed a companies atmosphere to toxic and dysfunctional.
Now before the hate mail comes pouring in, let’s be frank and clear about a few things. I’m not referring to the secretary with the latest or greatest “chisme”. Being a blabbermouth and gossiping, while not polite, is more of a social function than one designed to get people into trouble. There is also a huge difference between a snitch and a whistleblower. One’s ability to expose companies illegal or unethical practices is a right that should be protected and promoted. Breaches of environmental policies, sexual harassment, and fraud are serious matters, and those that expose this type of company behavior should be applauded and encouraged to come forward.
But how do I know who the snitch is?
When looking to identify the snitch among your team there are some general rules that all snitches seem to follow:
- A male in their early 30’s and up to mid 40's.
- They are emotionally stunted. Think of behavior similar to that of a child in elementary school. They just seem to have never really grown up.
- They fawn over management. Yes, I’m talking about that person with their nose stuck so far up managements ass that it’s brown.
- They completely misunderstand the definition of integrity.
- Their ego lets them believe they are well-liked and valued by management, but in reality, even the bosses hate them.
What often makes it difficult though is the snitch knows how to fit in. They join us around the water cooler or on coffee break and know just when to laugh or a say something to keep the conversation flowing. Their short term memory is fantastic and can often recall with startling ease the names of those involved and the content of the infraction. Being able to pass along this valuable information to the boss strokes the snitch’s ego, which helps them overcome their feelings of insecurity and of being inadequate. Being egocentric the snitch is after personal gain and is motivated by the prospect of a promotion. Have you ever wondered how a certain coworker managed to get a promotion that they appear to be unqualified for? Now we know why.
Is there a solution to the workplace snitch?
Most workplace snitches, if given enough time, will eventually hang themselves and removed. Yes, sometimes they are promoted, but more often then not they wear out there welcome and will eventually move on to a different department or company. Sadly, aside from being not talking entirely, there is not much you can do to combat the snitch. The best piece of advice I can give you is to be ethical in your work and don’t do anything illegal or immoral that would get you into trouble. It also certainly helps to document your daily work activities and why you did do something a certain way. As for revenge, just remember that this isn’t the elementary schoolyard anymore, and criminal record often means you’re now unemployable. However, nothing will make the snitch look bad as giving the boss the wrong information.