How To Fight The Co-Worker Coalition

June 26, 2013


I recently witnessed a crazy phenomenon at a company that I’m working with.  It was powerful, it was ugly, and it was made up of individuals who were seemingly out for blood.  I’m calling it a co-worker coalition.

I don’t believe any of the resulting issues were intentional.  However, when the same people spend a lot of time together complaining, frustrations can brew.  This type of “gossip” is a cancer that WILL manifest.  In this case, that is exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, this nasty brew of emotions came to a head right in front of my eyes!

Within a few hours the coalition members had disrespected the same co-worker right to his face.  It was like they were ganging up on him just to make a point.  The point was…that they could.

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The co-worker that was receiving the brunt of the coalitions anger was innocent.  He had no intentions other than doing a great job.  Unfortunately, that didn’t matter.

There were no below the belt punches, no slurs or colorful metaphors thrown.  However, feelings were hurt.  Irreparable damage was done.  And none of this can be taken back.

So What?

After witnessing this go down, I made myself a promise.  I’m going to do everything I can to not let this happen again in my sphere of influence!

I know that gossip is bad.  I also know that it can destroy a culture.  With that being said, it’s very sneaky and underhanded. It creeps in where people least expect it.  Hiding in frustration and masking itself as “venting”.

I’m writing about this tale to spread the word.  Please help me stop this!

If you have an issue with a co-worker, there are two people that you should be talking to about it:

1.) The person with whom you have an issue.

2.) Your boss.

If neither of these two are wiling to budge, the mirror or the door are the only places for you to go.  I’m guilty of “venting” myself.  Almost everyone is.  But we must be different!!

The Aftermath

In many cases, I believe that this situation goes unchecked.  It’s left to fester and the bullies win.  Personally, I shared the following quote with the co-worker:

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.Albert Einstein

I told him not to give up on being excellent.  I also told him that I was proud of him for not acting out in this situation.  His professionalism and steadiness in the face of opposition was inspiring.

Where’s The Team?

There’s also another side to this.  What about the other co-workers that could have said something?  Why is silence acceptable in this situation?

Co-workers should stand up for each other.  It’s one thing for a team to have a healthy disagreement.  It’s another to allow disrespect to flourish.  It’s every team member’s responsibility to make respect a cornerstone of any professional culture.

After all, we were all once like innocent children.  Try to remember that, the next time you see this happening…

Question:  Have you ever witnessed a co-worker coalition?



2 responses to How To Fight The Co-Worker Coalition

  1. I have have witnessed many “co-worker coalition” attacks, and sadly, have participated a time or to. This group is known in high school as the “cool kids”. Show me a group of co-workers behaving badly and I’ll show you a group of managers behaving badly.

    • Hmmm. Sounds like you have some interesting stories to tell!

      Great point though, this stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Leadership has a responsibility here too. Unfortunately, some of these coalitions can be a bit two-faced and are good at cloaking themselves when they need to.

      I was never one of the cool kids anyway. 😉