Yes, Your Colleague Really IS Sabotaging Your Career

No one likes to think that coworkers, colleagues or anyone else at work is undermining the careers of others.

career sabotage

We’d prefer to believe that we’re all in it for the good of everyone. Most of us are. But whether they intend to or not, there are those at work who can hurt your career.

Anytime someone’s words or actions at work cause you to fall out of favor with those who make decisions about your future, your career is being undermined. Anytime a colleague or a leader overshadows your accomplishments, your career is being undermined.

These individuals may not be setting out to sabotage you intentionally, but they do not have your best interests at heart and their actions are hurting you.

4 Types of Saboteurs Who Might be Right Under Your Nose

Do any of these look familiar?

  • team members who aren’t doing their share and therefore could adversely affect your work products
  • people delaying getting something important done for you or your team
  • people who are taking credit for your work, including your boss
  • a boss who’s not giving you challenging assignments or visibility

What to Do

Team members who aren’t pulling their weight. Calculate the adverse affect their behavior is having on your reputation, then take action to head off the negative fall-out before it significantly affects your standing. One way to do that is to start regular written status updates to your boss with info on what’s in and what’s not that was expected from your team and what you’re doing to speed things along. Do this without laying blame on anyone. Just the facts. You can casually let the specific slacker know that you’ve begun this status update process.

People outside your team who are delaying getting important work done for you. They’re interested in their careers as well and what you’re asking for probably isn’t at the top of their priority list. If that’s the case, you’ll need to have a strong influence case for getting their attention to your needs – a pitch that shows that by moving your priority request higher, it will likely  (1) solve or prevent a problem for them, (2) improve a difficult situation, or (3) add value. Here’s an example: “What I’m needing may not be at the top of your priorities list right now. But if I were to get this from you by xyz date, I’ll make sure that the right people know you came through.” While this pitch may not work for some, it likely will work for those who want positive exposure to leadership for their careers.

People who are taking credit for your work. In this case, you clearly need to have a plan for how you can be sure that those who need to know, in fact, do know about what you’re producing. I recommend reading my post on what to do when a peer takes credit for your work.  And what about the boss who’s taking credit for your work? That may be inadvertent or intentional. You’ll need to find out which it is. Either way, you’ll need to tread carefully, and never make your boss look bad in front of others, no matter what. My post on what to do when your boss takes credit for your work outlines some options.

If you’ve got a boss who isn’t giving you challenging assignments, find out why. Maybe your boss doesn’t know what you want. If that’s the case, start by getting clear on what you’d like to take on, and pitch it to your boss. If your boss doesn’t care about what you want, then your pitch needs to include the benefit to your boss. That is, your pitch should cover why giving you a certain assignment would solve or prevent  a problem for the boss, improve  a difficult situation, or add value.

Over the course of your career you’ll always run into others who have their own agendas. Some may be out to get ahead at your expense, most are not. But that doesn’t mean our reputations don’t suffer because of their words or actions. The above examples are of people who in most instances are not intentionally setting out to sabotage you, but the negative effect on your career is real.

Question: Have you ever encountered intentional or unintentional undermining at work? Do you have any tips to share for dealing with it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/Lightspring

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