How to Deal With an Employee Who Is Trying to Sabotage You

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Workplace sabotage can result from unhealthy competition, which itself often results not from simple disagreements, but from serious workplace conflicts. Conflicts rarely resolve themselves, and the longer they continue the greater the chance that negative actions such as sabotage will undermine not only daily operations, but also the entire business. For these reasons, it’s vital to stop sabotage behaviors immediately using conflict-resolution skills.

Gather Objective Evidence

Although at some point you’ll need to confront the person directly, the worst thing you can do is allow the meeting to become emotionally charged. Instead, document sabotage behaviors by taking detailed notes in a journal format. Write down what happened, when it happened, provide specific examples and describe how it’s affecting your work. In addition, save emails or memos that may provide additional evidence. This way, when you confront the person, you’ll have objective evidence that will be difficult to deny.

Act Professionally

Make sure your own actions are above reproach. Try hard not to let the co-worker affect your on-the-job performance and productivity. Most importantly, never attempt to sabotage the person back. In an article on Forbes.com, Alexander Kjerulf, an author and speaker on happiness at work, recommends that no matter how poorly a sabotager may be treating you that you remain positive, focused on your work and be willing to work with and support the person.

Meet Privately

A face-to-face meeting is vital for stopping workplace sabotage. Dan Schwabel, a career and workplace expert, suggests that you first try meeting with the co-worker privately. Ask direct, yet still polite questions designed to reveal the root cause. For example, ask why the person fails to respond to email communications, continually criticizes your ideas in meetings or added her name to your slide show presentation. Ask whether you’ve done something to aggravate the person that you may be unaware of and express a willingness to resolve the situation. Schwabel cautions against using an accusatory tone or body language such as crossing your arms while speaking or standing when the other person is sitting, that portrays negativity.

Involve a Mediator

If a private meeting results in accusations or denial and you can’t resolve the situation on your own, ask a third party, such as a manager or human resources representative, to act as a mediator. At this point, you should also inform a supervisor about what’s happening. Although it’s generally a good idea for a mediator to be a neutral party, not a direct supervisor, management should be aware of the situation and progress during conflict resolution mediation sessions.

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