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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

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.


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. 8 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

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