How to Manage Staff Who Undermine You at Work

How to manage staff who undermine you can be one of the most challenging aspects of being a leader or manager. It’s important to identify and address undermining behavior as soon as possible in order to maintain effective working relationships with your team.

Some of the ways how to manage staff who undermine you are to establish boundaries, deal with conflict constructively, build positive relationships, and develop leadership skills in handling difficult situations effectively.

In this blog post, we’ll explore strategies for managing staff members whose behaviors are sabotaging your efforts as a leader.

Table of Contents

How to Manage Staff Who Undermine You at Work

It is important for managers and leaders to be able to recognize when staff members are undermining them. This includes identifying passive-aggressive actions, disrespectful attitudes, and uncooperative behaviors.

Passive Aggressive Actions

These can include subtle forms of resistance such as ignoring requests or instructions, procrastinating on tasks, or making excuses for not completing work. It can also involve more direct forms of hostility such as eye-rolling or sarcasm in response to a request from the manager or leader.

Disrespectful Attitude

This could manifest itself in the form of talking back to the manager, refusing to listen to instructions, belittling comments about their decisions or ideas, and generally disregarding their authority.

Uncooperative Behavior

Staff members may refuse to cooperate with other team members by not participating in meetings or group activities. They may be disruptive during discussions, ignore deadlines, and even sabotage projects.

Managers and leaders need to be aware of these types of behavior so that they can address it appropriately before it becomes a bigger issue.

It is important for managers and leaders to set clear expectations with their staff so that everyone understands what is expected from them in terms of performance and attitude towards one another within the workplace environment. This will help ensure a positive working environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and supported.

Once you have identified the behaviors that are undermining your authority, it is important to take action in order to address them. The next step is to develop strategies for dealing with these behaviors.

Establishing Boundaries

It is important for managers to set clear expectations for their staff. This includes providing detailed instructions on tasks, setting deadlines, and establishing a code of conduct. When employees know what is expected of them, they are more likely to meet those expectations.

For example, if you expect your team members to arrive at work on time each day, make sure that expectation is clearly communicated in advance so everyone knows what is expected.

Once the expectations have been established, it’s important to communicate any consequences associated with not meeting those expectations. This can include verbal warnings or written reprimands, depending on the severity of the situation. If an employee fails to meet a deadline or behaves inappropriately, then it’s important that they understand there will be consequences for their actions.

Finally, it is important to document any incidents where boundaries were crossed or expectations were not met by employees. Records of these incidents could serve as evidence should disciplinary action need to be taken against an employee in the future.

Dealing with Conflict Constructively

It is important for managers and leaders to remain professional when dealing with conflict between staff members. This means avoiding personal attacks, refraining from making assumptions or judgments, and not taking sides in the dispute. By maintaining a calm demeanor and focusing on facts rather than emotions, it will be easier to reach an amicable resolution.

When addressing conflicts between staff members, it is essential to create an environment where open dialogue can take place without fear of repercussions or criticism. Managers should encourage both parties to express their concerns openly and honestly so that all perspectives are heard before any decisions are made.

Once all relevant information has been gathered, managers must work quickly to resolve the issue in a way that is fair for everyone involved. This includes coming up with creative solutions such as mediation or arbitration if necessary. It is also important for managers to follow up after the situation has been resolved in order to ensure that no further issues arise in the future.

Developing Leadership Skills to Manage Difficult Situations

One of the ways how to manage staff who undermine you is by developing the skills necessary to manage difficult situations. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses as a leader can help you identify areas where you need improvement, allowing you to better handle challenging scenarios. To do this, it is important to reflect on past experiences and take time to analyze how they could have been handled differently.

Additionally, learning how to handle stressful situations in a professional manner will also be beneficial when managing difficult staff members. This includes staying calm in tense moments, listening actively without interrupting or judging others’ opinions, and responding with empathy rather than anger or frustration.

Practicing active listening skills is also key when dealing with undermining behavior from employees. It is important for managers and leaders to make sure that everyone feels comfortable speaking up about their concerns so that issues can be resolved quickly and effectively.

Practice Empathy

It’s important to remember that when someone is engaging in undermining behaviors, it may not be personal. It could be a sign of insecurity or fear.

As a manager, you should take the time to understand what might be going on for them and try to build trust and camaraderie.

Empathy is key here – if you can put yourself in their shoes, you can start to make progress toward resolving the issue.

It’s also important to recognize the concept of tall poppy syndrome – this is jealousy or badmouthing of someone who has risen higher than others in their field. Recognizing this phenomenon will help managers better prepare themselves for any potential backlash they may face as they rise up within an organization.

Additionally, it’s helpful for managers to remember that while there may be some resentment from other employees due to their new position, it doesn’t have to become a negative situation. With empathy and understanding, these issues can often be resolved quickly and effectively.

Finally, don’t forget about self-care! Managing people isn’t easy – so make sure you’re taking care of yourself too!

Taking breaks throughout your day or scheduling regular check-ins with trusted colleagues are great ways to stay grounded during challenging times at work.

how to manage staff who undermine you(Source)

Earn Respect With Your Deeds

The most effective way to gain respect as a leader is to earn it through your deeds. This means leading by example and doing what you ask of others, rather than trying to intimidate them into compliance.

Respect comes from employees knowing that decisions are based on values rather than whims or moods and that they will be treated fairly regardless of the situation.

Managers should also ensure that their feedback is constructive and not intimidating in order for employees to feel safe when receiving it.

Employees need to trust their boss in order for them to work at their best potential, so creating an environment where everyone feels respected is essential.

Leaders should also remember not to be too casual with their employees, as this can lead them to take advantage of the situation. Being too friendly can make it difficult for managers to enforce rules without feeling guilty or uncomfortable. It’s important for leaders to maintain a professional relationship with staff while still being approachable if needed.

It’s also important for leaders to show appreciation towards their team members whenever possible. Recognition helps motivate people and encourages loyalty within the workplace which leads to better results overall.

Leaders who take time out of their day-to-day tasks in order to recognize individual contributions are more likely to have an engaged workforce who respects them as a leader and wants to do well under their guidance.

How to Deal With Employees Who Undermine Your Authority

  1. Acknowledge the Behavior: The first step in how to manage staff who undermine you is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Remember, you are not attacking the person but rather addressing their behavior in order to maintain a healthy work environment.
  2. Address the Issue: Once you have identified the issue, it’s time to address it directly with the employee in question. This can be done through an informal conversation or even better, a formal meeting where expectations can be discussed and agreed upon by both parties involved.
  3. Listen Carefully: When having this conversation with your employee, make sure you listen carefully and try to understand why they may feel like they need to undermine your authority instead of just dismissing them outright for their behavior. There could be underlying issues at play here that should be addressed so that everyone can move forward without any lingering resentment or ill will.
  4. Set Boundaries: After listening carefully and understanding what might have caused this type of behavior from your employee, it’s now time for you as a leader to set some boundaries regarding how they should act going forward.
  5. Follow Up Regularly: Finally, once these boundaries have been established, make sure that you follow up regularly on progress made (or lack thereof).


Learning how to manage staff who undermine you can help you create an environment of respect and collaboration within your team.

Are you struggling to manage staff who undermine your authority? Do you feel like it’s taking a toll on both your mental and physical health? Then join us at, where we provide resources that can help empower people to become better managers and leaders.

We are dedicated to helping individuals develop the skills necessary for managing difficult employees in order to create a healthier workplace environment. Take control of the situation today – come find out how we can help!