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Employee is planning to overthrow me!

Dear Office-Politics,

I have an employee who started in this organization as a plate making operator in 1998. When I took over the plant, the management promoted him to Production Planner. He was working well except for the last few weeks. He started to spread rumors around about me and my management.

He also talked to my boss saying that I am playing politics in the office which I don’t. He claims to his colleagues that he will be the manager soon. He knows all the top management personnel and so on. Could you please guide me how to tackle this situation? I have done a polite confrontation, which doesn’t help. I gathered some evidence and put it forth to the management. Doesn’t help either. I assigned him with more responsibilities and accountabilities, and even that doesn’t help.

Feeling Powerless


dr. rick brandon
dr. marty seldman

Dear Feeling Powerless,

We are sorry to hear about your situation. It is very disillusioning to be undermined by an employee in the way you are describing. It sounds like your network has informed you that he is trying to damage your reputation through general rumors and specific comments to your boss.

Analyze the worker’s agenda
The agenda seems clear in that he hopes to succeed you. For him to be this brazen in his behavior it is obvious that he believes that he has more power than you because of his relationships with senior management. His actions indicate that he has no fear of you.

Know the enemy
The fact that he thinks this is the case does not mean he is correct in his evaluation of the situation. What is clear is that at this point he is your enemy and a distinct threat to your livelihood.

The most important thing for you to find out is how accurate he is about his power, relative to yours. How you defend yourself and treat him will depend on how much power and influence you retain with your boss and other superiors.

Know the power equation
Try to get an accurate gauge from your network about who in power supports you and is willing to stand up for you.

We don’t recommend confronting him until you know the power equation. In the meantime, since it may come down to you or him, document any information you have about any incompetence, unethical or perhaps shirking behavior on his part. You may need to use it at some point. If you have powerful people who will stand up for you and you can document what he is doing you may prevail.

If you find out that he is correct in his estimation of his ability to undermine you then you may need to get legal advice to protect yourself. A middle position would be if senior management wants to give him more responsibility in another part of the organization or wants you to give him a broader role. Be very discreet in your search for information because you cannot be sure whom you can trust at this point.

Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.


Rick Brandon, Ph.d. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D. Co-authors,
Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success

cover of Survival of the SavvyRick Brandon, Ph.d. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D. are Co-authors, Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success. Dr. Rick Brandon is CEO of Brandon Partners. He has consulted and trained tens of thousands at corporations worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Marty Seldman is one of America’s most experienced executive coaches. His 35-year career includes expertise in executive coaching, group dynamics, cross-cultural studies, clinical psychology, and training.

  1. 2 Answers to “Employee is planning to overthrow me!”

  2. I just informed my bosses boss that my current boss was trying to overthrow him. He was very surprised and we will see how it goes. I had to make a moral decision. He didn’t know me very well as I am a par time employee but I know as a person he was taken that I was willing to put my neck out for him. But my point is – you never know who might be in your corner just waiting to speak up….

    By Anonymous on Aug 24, 2009

  3. 1. They aren’t rumours
    2. Upper management are planning to slot him into your job, they think he will be better at it than you, they are probably right, given that you haven’t noticed how well he has been working.
    3. You play politics, but you **** at it, look how this guy has schmoozed up to management, thats politics.
    4. Gathering evidence only makes you look insecure and paranoid. Your boss knows this, he laughs every time you **** about this.
    5. The greater respnsibility and workload didn’t work, he can easily cope with this and more, and gets bored easily, what you consider a high workload, this guy breezes through, he is intelligent, capable and confident, and doesn’t need to gather evidence to rain on someone elses parade, to make himself look better.

    Maybe you should leave now, or stop slacking off and do some work before your boss realises how badly he has **** up

    By eddie vincent on Mar 8, 2010

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