A subversive employee attempts to undermine the authority of your management. When this type of person is on your work team, it can disrupt the functioning of the entire unit. Begin to deal with a subversive team member by identifying how he operates and the reasons behind his actions. You can then counter his behavior in a professional manner so your team can move forward and be as productive and harmonious as possible.

Identify Motivation

You can better address the issue of subversiveness by a worker if you are able to figure out what motivates her. When a team member engages in manipulative behavior, it could be because she is not confident in her job abilities, questions your worthiness to be a leader or is acting out because of dissatisfaction with something in her personal life. Observe and listen for clues that will give you insight into her mindset. You can then better address her behavior with such initiatives such as support training or a referral to an employee assistance program. Try not to take the manipulative behaviors personally; focus instead on improving the attitude and performance of the team member.

Team Feedback

Rely on your staff to give you honest feedback when a member in acting in a subversive manner. Encourage employees to come to you with concerns, including those involving a co-worker, when the team is jeopardized. Initiate a meeting when you suspect a particular employee is being manipulated by another. Talk to the worker about actions you witnessed. An employee might be reluctant to reveal subversive tactics by a co-worker, so help her by promising your support.


A subversive person works behind the scenes to create drama with the spreading of rumors, disparaging comments and lies. When you have tried to work with an individual employee to change his undermining behaviors and have failed, it is time to shed light on his actions. Confront him with your knowledge of his behavior. The U.S. Small Business Association advises managers to focus only on actions and not the personality of the employee. Calmly recount the incidents you know of in which he demonstrated manipulation. Explain the behaviors will not be tolerated and put him on notice regarding consequences such as written warnings and possible suspension or termination.

Team Meetings

Meet regularly with your team to help quell subversion. It will be more difficult for an employee to undermine your managerial efforts when you bond with the team. Increase employee motivation for working well together with both tangible and intangible rewards such as bonuses and recognition. This will help your workers resist tactics by a troublesome team member to bring down the structure, increase the team's respect for you and increase job satisfaction in general.