Troublemakers – and what to do about them

You know exactly who I’m talking about.

The (so called) team member who is always stirring things up, gossiping, setting people up against each other, manipulating conversations and quietly sabotaging the progress you are striving for.

Smiling terrorists who “play the game” when you are around and chip away at the foundations when you are in your surgery or absent.

I get a bizarre surge of energy when I come across these people or when their antics are reported to me. That’s because I’m committed to their elimination. I’ve no idea what motivates them – envy? – and I don’t care.

It’s war as far as I am concerned.

Win:lose – and my client is going to be the winner.

Forget all that stuff about “seek first to understand, then to be understood” – I never negotiate with terrorists.

What fascinates me about troublemakers is that they genuinely think their disguise works – that the false smile and pretend participation is an effective camouflage for their under-cover activities.

That might work with the boss (who is often too busy or too stressed to see the signs).

It seldom works with the team and it certainly never works with me because after all these years, I can spot a terrorist after about 20 minutes in the building. Body language, eye contact, tonality and dialogue – they may as well wear a flashing beacon on their head.

However, I’m really good at my disguise. They seldom spot me until it’s too late.

I was chatting to a client about a troublemaker the other day – and it was the client who gave me a great phrase that prompted this post.

In answer to the question “how do you spot a troublemaker in your own business”, the client responded:

When you take them home, it’s time for them to go

Meaning that if you are getting home and sitting over dinner discussing the antics of the troublemaker – “you’ll never guess what she did today” – then it’s time to call your HR consultant – a.k.a. the smiling assassin – and get the troublemaker the hell out of your life, whatever it costs.

I don’t care how long the troublemaker has been there or how much they know – and I don’t care about the gap they will create. When they go it will be a breath of fresh air through your business and your life.

If you are harbouring a troublemaker – get rid.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

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