Healthy completion is one thing but there is nothing healthy about a work place nemesis. Some one who seems to be able to push your buttons with what may appear to the others present the most innocuous of remarks or piece of body language no one else in the room noticed. It doesn’t matter the nature of the meeting or the agenda it could be a significant strategic decision under discussion or where we should go for the team Christmas meal you’re just waiting for them to contradict you, argue for an alternative , rubbish your suggestion or pull a face. Their position is always the opposite to yours and you suspect, no, you know that this is not what they really think they are just saying it to wind you up. And It works.
I have been a senior manager in four very different local authorities and one large national Housing Association. I have had two such work nemesis and one much more dangerous one that I didn’t realise was my nemesis until I was forced out and he got my job. But it is the two that I did know about and every one else knew about that I want to focus on. These individuals were colleagues on senior management teams and as such totally different to any rebellious or dissenting individual I might line manage.
In both cases my/our boss would try with only limited success to referee and afterwards put the increasingly heated debate down to strong personalities. Now that I am no longer working along side either of those individuals I see things differently. I now realise that although I was the one getting “emotional” the team and my boss were letting me express their frustration. Presumably because of our history of antagonism I was more sensitive to the digs and slights but the others were very willing to let me jump in. This individual also irritated them it was just that they irritated me more. But by letting the two of us fight it out the others were able to appear more rational and composed.
I now realise that these two individuals were not my nemesis but that I was theirs!
Blair Mcpherson former Director ,author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk