Does the title of this post – “White Anting in the Workplace” – make you think of an occupational hazard for builders, carpenters, and others in the construction industry?
The reality is, it can be a problem in ANY workplace, and the target could be a manager, a team member - or even the business itself.
What is White Anting?
As the name implies, “white anting” refers to a form of sabotage which is so subtle, it can be difficult to identify or expose. It is a covert form of bullying that aims to undermine or discredit the achievements and influence of another.
These white anting strategies might include:
- Setting the target up for failure (eg with unrealistic time frames);
- Micro managing;
- Leaving the target out of emails and meetings;
- Spreading rumours and false information;
- Filtering work in other directions, rather than to the target;
- Resisting new ideas and initiatives;
- Forming alliances with others;
- Stealing ideas and passing them off as their own.
An Example of White Anting
Sandy* enjoyed her work and after several years in the organisation, had much experience and knowledge, which she willingly shared with her new supervisor.
Over time however, Sandy realised that she no longer found her work as rewarding, and in fact, it seemed to be drying up. So she found another job.
It was only AFTER she'd left, that Sandy learned her supervisor had been telling her colleagues that Sandy was “stressed”, so they shouldn’t ask her for advice or help. This, despite the fact that she'd always been the "go to girl" previously - both because she had been in the team the longest, and because of her friendly, helpful nature.
The Effects of White Anting
Not surprisingly, white anting can have a toxic effect on a workplace, creating discord and dissatisfaction.
Many team members may simply move on (like Sandy), and management are left no wiser as to why they are losing some of their most valuable staff.
What Leads to White Anting Behaviour?
Like any form of bullying, white anting stems from a lack of self-confidence. Feeling threatened, the individual turns to subtly undermining other/s, in a way to make themselves look and feel better.
Unfortunately, by the time anybody recognises the white ant's activity, the damage has already been done. The target may feel that their story will not be taken seriously, or that *they* may in fact be seen as the problem, leaving them feeling discouraged and helpless.
At Guidelight Psychology Gold Coast, we provide unbiased, confidential support to individuals experiencing problems at work.
We also help businesses and organisations to create a positive and transparent workplace culture, which reduces the opportunity for white anting activity to thrive.
Call Guidelight Psychology on 07 5527 0123 to make an appointment with one of our team, experienced in addressing workplace issues.
*Not a real person