The Martyr Employee or ‘Victim’

difficult employees Apr 04, 2019

Who they are: This is your ‘woe is me’ employee. Everyone has the same amount of work to do but to listen to this employee you would think that he or she was doing everyone else’s work as well as her own. A martyr likes nothing better than complaining, whining, bitching and moaning to anyone who will listen about how much work, pressure and responsibility they have on their shoulders. Often, they believe they cannot get a task done because of something that is out of their control. In short, they have no ‘get-up-and-go’ or positive attitude.

A victim often comes across as tentative, apprehensive and helpless. They too are likely to blame others for their lack of productivity and efficiency. What’s more, they bring everyone else down. In short, they are depressing.

You’ll also notice that when they attempt to explain themselves, they will invariably leave out the key one or two details that would explain why they haven’t been able to finish their work. Instead of honestly wanting to get to the bottom of a problem, they will invoke the ‘woe is me’ defence. ‘Why does it always happen to me?

What to do: The best way to deal with a martyr or victim is to listen and empathise – these people are often ignored and feel neglected – and try to get him or her to prioritise their problems. Once they have narrowed down the real problem, discuss with them an appropriate plan to solve it. Encourage the employee to focus on the future and not the past, and try to help them find ways to win some short-term successes to boost their confidence and convince themselves they are not helpless.

If all else fails, however, be ready to take a harder line: tell them that you will not listen to their complaints if they have no plan for a solution, warn them off for timewasting and be honest: tell them that they are damaging the morale of their team mates. Let them know that excuses and moans will not be tolerated; only results matter.


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