Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

One of the women in my office is a tattle-tale and a gossip. It’s become so bad that everyone is afraid if they don’t listen or don’t engage with her, they will become one of her targets. She picks on the most benign things; it could be someone’s dress, how they talk or how slow they approach a task.

It’s difficult when she talks about our clients. We work with very wealthy people and families and she sees a chance to make fun of everyone. I thought she might get fired when she was actually talking about someone’s child in our reception area and the client was walking through the door! The lead advisor just laughed it off and said “no harm done” because she stopped before the client actually heard what she was saying.

Our firm’s leader thinks her behavior is comical and he just laughs about it when any one of us complains. I think it makes for a very toxic environment and where we cannot trust one another because you never know who is engaging in the backstabbing along with her. I know that others in my firm will recognize this letter if they read it in your column, but I’m interested if you think there is anything we can do to stop the behavior?

Please don’t recommend taking her out for coffee or lunch. She will claim we have it all wrong and she is doing nothing offensive. She always turns things around so the person accusing her has a problem and she is without blame. It’s so frustrating and the whole situation makes for an unpleasant workplace. We don’t have a huge firm so it’s not like we can hide from her or go about our business and ignore what’s happening.

Have you seen this before? Do you have ideas about what we can do?