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.

Work in an Office? You’ve Got Politics

Can you work in an office and NOT be part of office politics?

We could all use a What Not To Do for navigating the pitfalls that crop up the moment you start working with other people.  Even if you swear blind you don’t participate in office politics, you still need to be aware of what’s going on so you don’t get blindsided by other people’s agendas.

Our Twitter #careerchat discussed how to make office politics work for YOU.

Key takeaways from the chat:

  • Office politics happen whether you want them to or not. Learn to thrive in the workplace with the relationships you develop up and down the chain of command.
  • Trying to avoid office politics is an ineffective strategy. It’s better to be a good listener, empathize without agreeing and be a problem solver.
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking office politics are always negative. Build smart relationships with ethical people who support you.
  • Finding a good mentor or role model in your company can be the greatest tool you have for managing office politics. Identify who the key players are and who has credibility and knowledge.
  • Leverage likability–you may have to go against the “norm” to get best results. But if you want to make a difference, it’s how you do it more than what you do.
  • How you handle office politics is a reflection of your communication skills and character. You always need to be aware of your personal brand.
  • Best practices: Listen. Learn. Know your competition. Probe for information. Lead.
  • Don’ts: Don’t gossip. Don’t badmouth others. Don’t whine!


Special thanks to @jelfster, @SaleStart, @TECMidwest, @3D_EXHIBITS, @DrWoody, @dwilde, @pushingvision, @BlogLuvr29, @PaigeHolden, @CindyRichards, @Careerbright, @buzzandrea, @PushJobs, @RossLeadership, @WomensAlly and @davidawinter.

Job seeker? Just want to get ahead in your career?

Join our Twitter #careerchat Tuesdays @ 12 PM CT to talk about everything from friending your boss on Facebook to personal branding to how to get a call back from recruiter.

How to join: Go to and follow the hashtag “careerchat” at noon CT every Tuesday!

Adapted from my post here on MyPath.
Pic found here.