If you have been in the workplace for more than about two minutes, you are bound to have encountered saboteurs. You may just want to ignore them and hope they go away. That’s understandable, it can be unnerving to think about taking these people on. They come in several forms: employee saboteurs; peer saboteurs; and boss saboteurs. If you get nothing else from this article, hear this — ignoring it is self-sabotage. You must act! It’s the variety of ways you can act that can be confusing yet gives multiple options. Remember, while saboteurs are doing their dirty work, the dirt is flying around and landing on you. Saboteurs are everywhere. Right now, I have four clients dealing with this issue and they each come from a different type of workplace: large corporation; small business; non-profit; and government sector. No one is safe.
Saboteurs come in three general flavors: 1) Employees; 2) Bosses; 3) Peers. Let’s look at how the problem shows up with each and different ways to handle it.
- Employees – Imagine you have hired a new employee that you believe is going to do a great job, plus you like her and suddenly she is acting like she wants your job. Another scenario is that you become the boss of people that were once your peers. Either way, let’s say she believes she could do your job better than you do. One way she may proceed is to spread lies about you, to get your job or to retaliate if she thought she should have been chosen. What to do? Your inclination may be to do nothing, you are her boss, after all. Do not be naïve, this type of coup does happen. You may want to protect yourself by doing the following:
- Document everything immediately.
- Act fast by having a one-on-one, putting her on notice of the behavior you have observed.
- Get your name on all ideas and reports.
- Let your boss know about her shenanigans.
- Curtail her power.
- Bosses – Do not be surprised when a boss feels threatened by you and decides to keep you in your place. Maybe the boss is older, and you come in with fresh ideas, enthusiasm and energy. That can strike fear in many people. What are the signs that you have a boss saboteur? If your boss keeps you out of meetings that would be appropriate for you to attend, that’s a sign. If you are left off emails that are pertinent to you, that’s a red flag. If you have a duo presentation and he tells you he will do your part, at the last minute, that’s a tip-off. Now what do you do?
- Get a mentor and or sponsor who can advocate for you.
- Keep important people abreast of your work progress and successes. These successes are often customer success stories, new sales figures or other news that your thumbprint is on.
- Bring this behavior to your boss by framing it something like this: “I am somewhat confused that I was not included the budget meeting, especially since I had done a deep dive into the numbers that were that be presented.”
- Don’t blindside the boss! Making the boss look bad because she wasn’t informed of something you did, can rachet up saboteur behavior by the boss pretty darn quick.
- Peers – These can be the worst saboteurs of all. Usually, you have little control over peers. Peers may want you to look bad, so they look good. They may try to take credit for your work. They may try to get a leg up by sucking up to the boss and cutting you out. They may try to undercut you because you have a better relationship with the boss than they do. How to proceed?
- Don’t be gullible, expect this behavior to happen and be thrilled if doesn’t.
- Don’t share your ideas if you haven’t presented them to the boss yet.
- Don’t complain about them to another peer! I promise you; it will make you look bad. If you need to process this, go to an outside trusted person like a coach or wise family member.
- Call them out, not in a nasty way but let them know you are aware of their actions and antics.
What you probably notice about this entire article is that acting is the key. The sooner you address this behavior the better.
Does the prospect of addressing saboteur behavior scare the pants off you? Would you rather do anything else? You are not alone; many people would much rather hide from the entire mess. I get it. Would having someone aid you in navigating these pitfalls ease your mind? That is what I do with my coaching clients. Let’s discuss the situation. High-Heeled Success offer 45-minute complimentary telephone consultations. Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 to get the ball rolling.