Q: One of my coworkers is always trying to cause trouble. 

One day he wants the rest of us to lie for him so he can get out of work early. The next day he wants us to all go in together on a scheme to get the manager fired. 

It makes us all uncomfortable. How do we get him to stop all of this and do his job?

A: I’m impressed that you recognize the problems with this person’s behavior and that it makes you uncomfortable. It should. 

People like this are divisive and they are no one’s friend. They seem to think that the only way to get ahead is to lie, cheat, scheme and get the people around them to go along. They are manipulators. This person may say that he wants to work together, but he will immediately blame you if he gets caught. He has no loyalty to anyone.

The best way to stop this is by agreeing with your fellow coworkers to have no contact with this person other than to do your jobs. If he talks about these schemes, tell him you want nothing to do with him. Be direct. Don’t be mean to him, but there is no need to be tactful or diplomatic. If you appear to be tolerant of his behavior or ideas it will give him the sense that you somewhat approve — or that there is a chance that he can talk you into the action at some time.

Even avoid eating lunch with this person. Do not be seen talking to him unless required for work. If he asks why he is being ostracized, tell him that his actions require you to avoid him and that your reputation is too important.

It is important that you and the other employees are unified in taking this approach and realize that this person’s objective is destructive and will affect every employee’s reputation.

If this person threatens harm or retaliation, you must report it to your boss. If he persists after a few days of consistent separation, you must report it to your boss, as well. Remember, this person is a liar.  He will soon be making up stories that claim you are causing the problems.

Sorry to be this blunt, but I have seen these people in action. If they are not confronted, they will take down several good people with them. They will cause damage to the operation’s reputation, as well as yours and all the current employees. Repairing the damage will take years.

This is a situation where you need to be decisive, forthright and diligent about protecting your character.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.