4 Tips on Handling Co-Worker Sabotage

Apr 17, 2013
5 Min Read

One of my friends told me about how her co-worker got her in trouble at work for texting on the job. As a result, her manager told her not to text at work anymore. I asked her why her co-worker would tell on her, and she that this co-worker was jealous of all the attention and recognition the friend was getting.

I hear more and more stories like this of employees who are sabotaged by their co-workers in order to further their own careers. This is especially true in a bad economy where there's more competition for fewer jobs.

A recent study by Hogan Assessments of 700 people found that 81 percent believed they had been cheated or otherwise treated dishonestly by a colleague. 10 percent admitted that they had been perpetrators of acts including "playing dirty" in order to advance their own careers. The problem with this mindset is that the people you work with see you as a threat and as someone who could pull the same maneuver on them. Furthermore, managers are looking for team players who support each other instead of take one another down. Here are some tips for dealing with co-workers who are trying to sabotage you:

1. Document the situations of sabotage.

While the situation is happening and after it occurs, take notes in a journal format. Write down what your co-worker did, your impressions of why they did it and how it's affecting your work. This way, if you have to meet with them or your manager about the situation, you will have specific details for them about what's happening. If you don't journal the incident, then it will be harder to communicate exactly what went wrong.

2. Speak to your co-worker directly.

Instead of telling your manager about their actions, go directly to them and figure out what their intentions were. It could be that you had done something wrong to provoke them and you were unaware of it. You might be the one who has to apologize and rectify the situation. If they were out of line, then you have to tell them exactly what they did and why it was wrong. Be careful about what tone you use and your body language so you don't ruin the relationship or be perceived negatively by the people around you.

3. Set up a meeting with your manager.

If your co-worker ignores you or isn't willing to work things out, then it's time to bring the issue to your manager. Tell your manager about what the issue is and how it's affecting you. If you don't speak up then these incidents might happen in the future and people will look at you as the one to blame unless told otherwise.

4. Don't stoop to their level and sabotage them.

At first you might think that sabotaging them back is a great idea but really it's not and can make you look really bad. Refrain from taking that course of action and instead, focus on supporting your co-workers, remaining positive and focused on your work. The worst thing you can do is to let your co-worker negatively impact your performance. If you get distracted and start complaining, then it won't help your case at all.

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