Perhaps you work with a colleague who is not acting appropriately and engages in misconduct. He or she may be stealing from the company, often reporting late for work, or simply not doing his/her job.
Indeed, you may be faced with a huge dilemma whether to report the colleague to the bosses or simply ignore.
Many employees who have reported an ethical breach or misconduct of a colleague have faced serious revenge and ugly retaliation. Being labeled the office snitch is not a good thing at an organization and everyone strives to avoid it.
But sometimes it’s not easy to ignore certain things. It tarnishes your reputation and you become some sort of an accomplice. The effects of not reporting malpractices may have serious consequences. The company may lose customers or revenue leading to retrenchments or closure.
And sometimes it’s extra tension that needs to be handled like learning how to deal with feuding coworkers.
It’s important to keep in mind that you need to be very careful when dealing with many issues at work. It’s good to know when it is a good idea to snitch and when it’s not.
There are instances in which reporting misconduct at a company is a better decision. If a co-worker is doing something that may affect other people’s work, it is something that the management needs to know and quickly take appropriate action. Again, if you report something wrong going on with the good of the team and organization in mind, that is not snitching.
Before deciding whether to report a concern, the first question is what would happen if you did nothing. If the answer is that nothing would change much, then maybe it’s not worth talking about. But, if you are dealing with a serious issue which is in the best interest of you and other people around, then you carry on without the risk of being labeled an office spy or snitch.
If you discover that your colleague is misbehaving and breaching policies, you must discuss the problem with him or her first before reporting it. Avoid making the interaction seem like a fight or a confrontation.
If the colleague is understanding, will probably change for better. But if the person is not willing to change his or her deeds, that’s when you can consider reporting the matter.
You should not be that person spying on your coworkers and reporting back to the managers. If you decide to approach your supervisor about the issue, don’t focus on the person, but the problem. Try to be very calm and professional when reporting workplace issues. Be light, focus on the issue, and how you cannot resolve it on your own.
Avoid being a blubber mouth but talk like a mature person. Don’t forget to ask for advice and professional counseling. Please also acknowledge that you may not have all the facts and detailed information when there are some gray areas.
As mentioned before, if you report a colleague, there may be some reactions from the team. If you’re snitching on a workmate for minor offenses, know that you definitely won’t get any admirers.
It is imperative to make sure what you think to be true, is actually true. You have to be 100 percent sure you know as much as you can. Failure to do that can prove to be disastrous to your reputation.
Remember it takes years to build a good reputation and just a few seconds to destroy it. Consult your company’s rules and policies to see if the unclear behavior you observed is an offense. Reports of misconduct are usually taken seriously and into consideration if you have firsthand information on a clear policy violation.
It’s also important to know that once you report a complaint, you suddenly lose control over what happens next. More often than not, the results are harsher than can be anticipated. One trick is to try to report it anonymously through a letter or email, but that, too, sometimes can come back to bite the informer if it’s not handled carefully.
On the one hand, it reduces the risk of retaliation to you. But the challenge of anonymous reporting is that your complaint may not be deemed credible and taken seriously. To increase the credibility of an anonymous complaint, give examples of the unethical conduct, including places of occurrence, dates, and times.
So, in a nutshell, going to a superior to report a workmate who is misbehaving may make you feel like a snitch. On the other hand, doing nothing can make a bad situation even worse. But what I can tell you is that superiors want what’s best for the company and its workers and will support you if your motives are the same.
It’s also important not to take minor issues to your manager which do not serve the interests of the company or add value. Avoid being a petty bad character who is into rumor-mongering and who weakens teamwork and spirit through gossips.