Insecurity in the Workplace – Week 6

Most of us have encountered a coworker or leader at least once in our career who always seems to care more about proving a point than accomplishing a task and achieving a favorable outcome. This individual often compensates for their personal insecurities by projecting faux authority and dominance on the rest of the team. Worse yet, the insecure team member may purposely work against company leadership and policies if the root of their insecurity lies in their position within the corporation. This can often be seen manifested as a sort of retribution for the current status and perceived injustices done to the insecure team member by those around him or her. But perhaps worst of all, the negative behaviors demonstrated against other coworkers can sometimes rub off on otherwise “good” employees. Before long, it’s possible to end up with a work environment that more closely resembles a high-school locker room than a well functioning corporate culture. But there’s always hope. So let’s examine the best ways to spot and deal with an insecure and angry coworker.

Watch out for bragging

When a person is insecure, you’ll find that they brag about their past accomplishments as a way of elevating their perceived status by those around them. Because they are not happy with their current situation, they must furthermore constantly reassure those around them that they are more than qualified, even if their title doesn’t reflect it. This can lead to problems in the workplace due to the fact that bragging about past accomplishments is rarely helpful when solving the problems of today.

They’ll point out problems, but never bring solutions

It’s easy to complain, but more difficult to fix things. But to the insecure team member, solutions aren’t the goal of the conversation. By pointing out the flaws of others, once again, the perceived intellect and status of the insecure team member is elevated in their own eyes. Set clear expectations for employees that urge them to proactively solve problems and work as a team instead of simply sinking the boat from weighty complaints.


Circle back to the employee in question often to make him or her aware that you are watching for harmful behavior. When possible, trying to understand the cause of the insecurity can also be helpful. Unfortunately, there is often little that an employer can do to correct the insecurity of an individual. The issue can be ignored, but we must remember that bad news doesn’t get better with time. As a result, catching the problem early is key to preventing the spread of negative workplace culture.

Ultimately, keep in mind that the insecurity of someone else is not your fault or the fault of the organization. It may well be that the employee could fit better in a different position, or perhaps a different business or line of work. But the ultimate responsibility for high standards and positivity comes from the individual, and it is up to them to make the best of each day while moving up in life.

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