Teachers prove masters of backstabbing
FOR most teachers, the classroom is a daily battlefield that takes up much of their time and energy.
But the real arena of combat, it would appear, is the school staff room, as teachers have scored top marks in a new survey of workplace backstabbing.
The office politicking that goes on in between lessons makes teaching the most gossipy job of all, with eight in ten teachers admitting they regularly criticise fellow staff members behind their backs.
A further 27 per cent of teachers revealed that they gossip about colleagues at least once every week.
More than half (54 per cent) admit they withhold important information to get ahead at their colleagues' expense and curry favour with their head teacher.
The most popular behind-the-back topic on teachers' curriculum is criticising colleagues' work performance.
While admitting to being involved in Machiavellian skullduggery, 42 per cent of those questioned claimed they, too, had been victims of pettiness and politics at work.
But though teachers top the poll, which was commissioned by business forum Leaders in London, bankers and stockbrokers only narrowly missed out on the top spot for office cattiness.
The report, which questioned 2,000 workers, aims to show the reality of office politics, backbiting and game playing that millions of Britons practise at work every day.
Ronnie Smith, the general secretary of the EIS teaching union, doubted the survey's findings: "Unlike many other organisations, teachers have staff rooms, where they can get together and talk on a regular basis.
"In the case of stockbrokers, for instance, I should imagine they lead a pretty solitary existence and that much of the gossiping goes on outside the workplace.
"But it would surprise me if teachers were much more interested in their colleagues than other professions. They tend to talk about what's going on, the management and other subjects, much in the manner of a common room."
But business psychologist Rob Yeung, author of The Rules of Office Politics, said he was not surprised by the results: "Office politics become more intense wherever there are less resources to go around. There are few schools that aren't strapped for cash, while in the City environment you don't have to tread on people, there's room for expansion.
"In teaching, you're essentially waiting for dead men's shoes in terms of career advancement, while your budget is shrinking.
"People get much more defensive trying to protect what they have got."
Across the general workforce the poll showed that more than one in three workers said although they tried to grin and bear it, knowing they had been regularly criticised by fellow staff members did reduce their performance.
Despite this, more than a quarter of all workers admitted that they gossip about colleagues at least once a week and one in ten confessed that they gossip about fellow staff if they do not like them.
More than two-thirds, 69 per cent, of workers felt they worked in a positive atmosphere. But when problems did arise, constantly taking sick days topped the list, with 31 per cent citing this as the main reason for letting off steam about their colleagues.
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