Sabotaged At Work? How to Keep Your Head, Protect Yourself & Come Out On Top

back stabber

You’re being sabotaged at work. You decide to:

  • Immediately get another job
  • Keep your head down and hope it all blows over
  • Go straight to HR, do not pass GO, do not collect $200

Oh, for an alternate reality! Unfortunately, here we have to deal with the economy and the fact that things like this rarely do blow over. Even more unfortunately, your human resources department isn’t always the helpful human resource you need it to be.

“HR is not an option for me to go to,” said a friend who’d been the victim of dirty office politics. “We have one HR person, and she’s one of the three ladies who is “in” on the sabotage.”

Earlier in the year, “Mary*” had noticed things were going on that were out of her control. She started saving her “good job” and “thanks for the quick turn-around” emails and so forth, but when she had her performance review, her boss claimed she overcommunicated on the job and was bad at prioritizing. Her boss couldn’t provide any examples that backed up these claims and ignored all the documentation Mary had that proved otherwise. Despite this, she received a low score on her review.

“I’ve never had a poor review in my whole career because I always put forth my best effort. It’s hurtful and frustrating to feel stuck when there’s no evidence or proof of failing in any way,” Mary said.

So what can you do when you’re up against saboteurs with clout? I asked the savvy Career Juice folks over on Brazen Careerist. Take a look, and good luck with your situation!

Linda A. Hamilton: “I was in that same position several times at my corporate America job. My suggestion is that she documents everything, trusts nobody and makes such she has her resume updated while perhaps looking elsewhere for something, but only leave if it’s much better. Sometimes managers are told to sabotage someone from higher up. I know I saw that as did some of my co-workers who approached me about it, so I documented everything. For whatever reason, document everything, do the best you can in all situations, and be ready for anything. It’s not being paranoid, it’s being prepared. ”

Cheryl Roshak: She should have an updated resume and start looking for a more suitable environment or company to work for. Why stay in such a hot bed of mistrust and conflict? She can do both, do a good job and look for work simultaneously. Just tell her to be discreet and careful. Wish her good luck and tell her to try and remain calm, this happens in the business world far too often.

Chris Parker: There are people on the job who will try to lie, sabotage, and make life hell for you, but as long as you are following the job description, doing what you are to do, and DOCUMENTING everything, it can work out in her/his favor. Document. Document. Document. If she has a person who is neutral and has observed the political play I would suggest that she try and befriend them. Have someone who will go to the even higher ups on her behalf if the harasser tries to fire her.

Noel Rozny:  The truth of the matter is that, in the end, most ulterior motives are discovered, but do you really want to suffer and wait around to find out how it will end? Your friend should take care of herself, document everything, and look as much as she can for something new.

JenG: There’s nothing wrong with documentation and updating her resume, but I would urge her to talk to the person about her feelings. Not in a confrontational way, but just say something like, “I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page about X. You did Y and that made me uncomfortable because…” She’d probably need to practice the talk several times so it doesn’t come out emotionally, but just as a concern that she wants clarity on. It’s worth trying if she likes her job. If she hates it anyway, then the sabatoge is a moot point–she should be looking for another place to work regardless.

Iris Aikins-Afful: If the abuse is simply too much to handle, perhaps she should consider transferring to another department or finding another place to work altogether. However, no matter where a person works, there will always be some sort of tribulation, so she should also consider that if she does want to go to another job, she could be entering into an even worse situation. Another point to consider is that people like this, who concentrate so much of their time trying to pull others down, it turn pull themselves down by focusing on so much negativity as opposed to focusing on giving 110%. She could also consider waiting it out (while documenting everything). Sooner or later, people who are up to no good end up hanging themselves with their own rope.

Raquel Elle Bell: She may want to answer her own questions by focusing on the end result. How would she use the documentation and if she were to use it what would be the ramifications afterwards? If the documentation is for her to be able to see what is going on objectively I’d say do that. Overall she needs to figure out why whatever she thinks is happening is happening.

Linda A. Hamilton: Follow the advice previously given, do seek out HR if that department can be trusted, and hang in there. I learned the hard way that sometimes it’s better to find other work and leave the bad job than be like the battered wife and stay–the psychological ramifications are brutal.

*Some names have been changed.

6 thoughts on “Sabotaged At Work? How to Keep Your Head, Protect Yourself & Come Out On Top

  1. I work on a team of 3, where the other 2 guys are best friends. In tough economic times like these, they are routinely sabotaging my work. They give me false information and conceal important information. I have a supervisor who constantly takes their side – even when it’s obvious that they’re hanging my out to dry. My cowardly supervisor see it as more politically expedient to take the side of the two sabotage artists. Any time I confront them on their crimes, they go to my lame supervisor, along with HR, and lie about the incident to paint me as a “violent, angry” person. They have fabricated false incidents to reinforce this completely false notion about me. The union reps are the biggest pussies off. After I was hit with a false “hostile work” complaint – which was completely contrived by my backstabbing “team members” a.k.a. as my false union brothers, the union stewards cowered out of it – and to my utter disbelief shared the documents with their friends – instead of helping me at all. The Union stewards have proven to be useless cowards in this ordeal. my work is getting sabotage as we speak. I have to pay the bills. But I’m close to walking out the door because I’m spending 8 miserable hours per day getting sabotaged
    Has anybody here every been in my shoes?
    Any feedback or advice? Thanks!


  2. I am sorry this is happening to you! Toxic work environments can have long-reaching effects. Actually, my best advice is to send you to another site: There are a lot of posts about this theme, and you can email Alison what you posted here, too, for her to answer personally. Or you can post on Fridays during the open thread about work issues.

    Best of luck to you!


  3. i once had a job where a guy purposely befriended me to see if I was doing drugs on the job because there were rumors that I sold drugs which wasn’t true.he would ask me if I wanted to go get something to eat after work and start bombarding me with questions andmaking remarks that made it seem like he was cool with doing drugs.but I had no drugs once they found out it was someone else selling the drugs he acted like he didn’t know me.which was just fine by me.i went on to a better job six months later.some people will do anything for brownie points.


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