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The boss’ little pet is a big snitch…

Dear Office-Politics,

What do you do about a coworker who is not only a big snitch in the bunch but who is also the boss’ little pet?

Peeved at Pet

OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY DR. JOHN BURTON
dr. john burton

Dear Peeved at Pet,

What you have described in a few words raises a major issue in the workplace, that of worker loyalty. Though employers usually seek to foster loyalty to the company, the deepest ties of loyalty in many firms run from employee to employee. A co-worker who is a “snitch” and a “pet” (the two often go hand in hand) is perceived as a traitor by fellow employees, because he or she has put their loyalty with the company first. To the employer, however, this is exactly what they feel is expected of every employee.

There is no simple resolution to this dilemma. In some work environments the betrayed workers can impose sanctions on co-workers who are perceived to be too cozy with management. But that is what leads to an escalation of office politics, not to a better working environment.

I don’t know anything about your company, but if you are concerned about a “snitch” it sounds like there are things that employees are doing which they don’t want the boss to know about. If so, are you satisfied that your own behavior is ethical and above reproach? Worker loyalty can sometimes be a cover for worker behavior that management has every right to know about and discipline.

If there is a ‘we/they’ atmosphere between management and the workforce as I’ve inferred, then management has a challenge to work on that. If there is a healthy relationship in the firm then there should be no conflict between loyalty to your fellow employees and loyalty to the company.

Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.

Sincerely,

Dr. John Burton


Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian. He has taught alternative dispute resolution at Queen’s Law School and Ethics at the Schulich School of Business. John is currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada’s aboriginal communities.



Publication note: This letter was originally published in August 2002. We are republishing the best letters from Office-Politics and integrating them with our blog format.

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  1. 14 Answers to “The boss’ little pet is a big snitch…”

  2. I don’t agree, the snitch usually gives, “Their Version,” as to what they perceive is the wrong doing. Management enjoys snitches because they don’t have to do their job which means building better relationships with each individual employee. The funny part is….in our office the boss doesn’t realize the snitch is also snitching on them to upper management.

    By Lisa White on Sep 27, 2008

  3. I have an office snitch who is so paranoid that she will be fired because of her age that she has graduated from kissing everybody’s ass to spying, snitching, and when necessary telling outright lies to make herself look better. Furthermore if a supervisor is so insecure that he or she has to rely on snitches, maybe they need to take a good look at themselves!

    By Linda Bradham on Nov 4, 2008

  4. I TOTALLY disagree. Some people snitch because they think if they get in good with the boss he/she will overlook their shortcomings. The snitch becomes the eyes and ears of management lightening their load some. And if you have no work ethic chances are you may be unethical altogether.

    By Y. Gonzalez on May 19, 2009

  5. I would identify a “snitch” as someone who feels insecure at work and brownnoses their way up the boss’s ass to feel the level of security that someone who is confident and highly capable feels naturally.

    At my workplace, the snitch tries to find out something about you to report, which could be easily twisted to form a little melodrama. He’ll turn a few things around, so that it sounds like something you said, but is not quite at all what you said and plant this info in the paranoid boss’s ear. He may hear one side of a conversation and report that, or he may take something you say out of context, due to his his own ignorance (not the greatest critical thinker) or his eagerness to brownnose and solve his own security issues. The solution for me has been to:

    Keep my conversations with this person “ceremonial,” as in “Good morning,” “I hope you had a nice weekend,” etc., statements, instead of questions; or questions where “yes” or “no” suffice. This drives him crazy, but it is also exhausting to him to try to get around, and he’ll leave me be for a couple weeks

    You can never let your guard down with these people though. They are driven by fear and insecurity and practice passive aggressive behavior like a religion. Their unconscious desire is to not let you get ahead of them. After a while, they’ll start asking you leading questions to get any information they can. When you get to this stage with them, the technique is working. Keep answers brief, act like your cell phone is vibrating… whatever. Just don’t let your guard down. The person is still the “snitch” but their opportunities will become practically nonexistent with you, until someone new comes in.

    By Tina on Aug 1, 2009

  6. The person above me got it. I have been there and recognize the same behavior. Good advice Y Gonzalez.

    By lookslikevonetta on Oct 27, 2010

  7. Right on Y Gonzalez! We have two where I worked – notice past tense. Both were well rewarded financially/perks so unless they quit this was going to continue. What’s even sadder is having a boss that encourages and rewards this behavior not understanding it creates a diverse workplace. Also odd is that neither one of these snitches realize that EVERYONE knows who they are and are thoroughly disliked.

    By golf lady on Feb 18, 2011

  8. Way to go Y Gonzalez! Our office snitch and supervisor’s pet will try to sabotage the rest of us by dumping unnecessary work on our priority list and than report us for working priority projects from our general task list. It’s amazing our snitch is still employed even though she does about 1/3 of the rest of us. Even though the rest of our team works hard, the slacker snitch is still seen as some sort of a value.

    By Brad on Mar 20, 2011

  9. How to deal with work bully who is in bosses corner, due to low self confidence this individual has successfully had several staff leave the company with her deliberate tales and untruths, and taking undue credit for herself all of which cannot be validated if true as boss would then be disclosing her office ‘confidante’ and not have access to goings on in the office. Her power + destruction is soul destroying + not in the companies best interests. What does one do? It is a fantastic industry + I really want to continue here, and have a fantastic career ahead of me…. Thanks, any help + guidance will be much appreciated, best regards Barbara.

    By Barbara on Sep 10, 2011

  10. My significant other works with a real airhead snitch named Ginger Brunken-Moreno who is the tattletale of the year. She will go running in to the bosses office the moment she hears anything she thinks should be told. What she doesn’t realize is that a worker can file a cease and desist against a snitching coworker. And if the boss has to have a snitch or two then they are the crappiest kind of management ever. They only keep snitches when they are paranoid themselves and need meds.

    By Not a tattle tale on Apr 12, 2013

  11. A snitch is often a person that intends to get even with management, in medical offices around the world snitches often inform on the doctors activities and actions, being they legal or illegal. The snitch doesn’t care if the info is truthful or generated by a creative mind. As long as the authorities pay them the medical office snitch will pass out destructive info to anyone that will pay. The want to get even with the doctor, the staff, the patient or even just to get the world. They are often very ill in that they think the world doesn’t match up to their perceived morals when in fact they are part of the problem. We are not discussing drug informants that are junkies, but office staff that typically views the world as a bad and evil entity in itself. They actually believe they are doing society a genuine service.

    By D.C. on Jun 11, 2013

  12. The writer of this article sounds like the typical ass kissing brownnoser that we all know to well. Most employees are loyal to the company and are team players and yes we all know a few slackers that don’t pull their weight. Management knows who they are and they don’t need any input from other employees. But many times these same slackers seem to somehow be getting a head of everyone else. Could it be that the slackers are in fact busy watching and reporting on you rather than doing their jobs? Some bosses love to be buttered up and many of them are too stupid to know that they are being used and manipulated. The worst kind of brownnoser is the instigator or as I call him the shit stirrer. They are worse than your standard brownnoser because just getting a head is not enough for them because they want to hurt you as well.

    Beware that kind of brownnoser because he will make you feel like he is your friend when in fact he is trying to undermine your career. A good boss can spot a troublemaker and will say to him/her when he comes to his office. Thank you for the information but as the supervisor I’m well aware of what’s going on and oh by the way why aren’t you doing your job right now? To suggest that these people don’t exist and that it’s really you trying to screw management would be the opinion of a total moron. What’s worse is that this fool actually wants you to feel guilty. I’ve read all the other posts and I’m glad to see that you do not agree with this fool.

    By Elmore on Aug 26, 2015

  13. I was fired in less than 2 weeks because I agreed with comment about the boss being high strung, HR the snitch was present and they hung me good, funny thing everyone walks on eggs shells there everyone feels the same about the boss but I got fired.

    By veronica on Sep 30, 2015

  14. Watch watch watch your BACK when you are dealing with the kind of snitch I work with. She will snoop through your car windows, snoop in your cell phone if you leave it laying around. She will snoop in browsing histories. She snoops into casual convos you have with other co workers you trust. I feel stalked by this woman, her intense curiosity sometimes gives off a vibe of her being interested in me or some kind of crush she has on me…Eww! Lol

    By Donna on Feb 13, 2016

  15. As the only male in an all female workplace you have to be ultra careful who you can trust.

    By David on May 27, 2016

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