Assets Or Assassins

The “green with envy” people become dangerous when another employee, who is undeserving of success in their eyes, is now involved in their daily life and doesn’t really need or want their help. Thoughts of unfairness now haunt them every time they see or hear about that person. They may try to brush it off as short-lived success, saying, “Yeah, anyone can behave for three months, but show me someone who’s been here for a few years and is still doing well.”

It becomes even worse, however, if that person is a co-worker they need to be nice to every day. The word “green” perfectly describes these people, for they may become physically ill over another’s success. They are filled with an inescapable toxic feeling, but they don’t realize they are doing it to themselves.

Knowing Your Employees

If you are a manager, be careful that you may actually be creating “green” people or harboring them. Brushing off odd behaviors is not advisable. The envious may become skilled employment assassins, and can be the demise of your good talent.

Envious people begin to develop perceived indifference, believing they are working incredibly hard, offering you their best talent, and simply not getting enough recognition, support or salary in return. This becomes worse when they see you offer those things to others.

When they try to sabotage the more successful employee, two things may happen:

1. You, as the manager, will not reprimand them for creating the circumstance.

2. Your talented employee will see your lack of proper response and leave for a better boss.


The best way to avoid this problem is to conduct honest employee evaluations. Indicate why the envious are not measuring up. Don’t tell them that, if they work harder, they can obtain a promotion. Tell them they simply do not have the skills required to move forward. Recommend that, if they are not receiving the promotions and salary they need, they are more than welcome to try another department where they might flourish. Perhaps focusing on themselves, rather than what other people are doing, may help.

Clearly, they are not effective talent. They may be reasonable, dependable employees who come to work every day and do their job, but they are not the “knock-‘em-dead” type of charismatic employee you prefer to recruit.

Potential For Problems

In my experience, the “green with envy” people who have not been given proper employee evaluations will soon look at the manager as their prey. I have seen the following retaliations: reporting the supervisor to HR for not following company policy, wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits after quitting, and even accusing a manager of threatening his or her life.

All of these could have been avoided if the perceived indifference had been identified and dealt with, and if honest communication had taken place.

If an envious person is given a position merely to avoid him or her becoming disgruntled, that employee may begin to communicate private company information to subordinates in an effort to gain their trust and followership. This leads to company complaints, and creates an organizational culture filled with animosity toward superiors. Lost production may result.

Get The Right People

So how do you avoid harboring a “green” person? First, do not settle for mediocrity. Your goal as a manager is to hire the best talent you can find.

You cannot change people. However, you can help both the candidate and yourself by finding the reason for employment. Why does he or she want to work at your company? What is to be gained? Not only will this help clear up any confusion later, but these are great interview questions.

More importantly, write out several descriptions of what your company offers to an employee. Ask the candidate to select three items in the order of importance. The list may include leadership, challenge, healthcare, 401k, education assistance and others that your company can offer. This is a great tool as well for a new manager taking over a staff. A prospective employee will reveal a great deal by the choices, and with this approach you can remind the person in future evaluations how he or she can stay on the path to various goals and why perhaps the employee did not get that promotion. (Do you remember that leadership wasn’t even one of your top three items?)

Never settle for anything less than exactly what you need.

Kati Trammel is an advertising and public relations specialist in Lakeland, Fla. She can be reached at

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