You finally have a job you love, but your coworkers aren’t what you expected. Instead of welcoming you, they’re petty and jealous. They try to sabotage you so they get all the credit. Sometimes you don’t find out until it’s too late. While you shouldn’t automatically suspect every coworker of trying to backstab you, you should take time to see who’s who and be proactive when you notice any coworker starting to sabotage you. If you’re paying attention, there are signs. Just remember, you never have to stoop to their level.
- Cover your ass on everything. Above all else, cover your ass on everything. Keep all correspondence. If your coworkers ask you to do something, follow up via email. When colleagues try to sabotage you, they might tell you lies to cause you to make mistakes. If you have questions about anything, ask your boss via email and copy the coworker. Tell the boss what was said and ask if that is really what you’re supposed to be doing. The more you cover your ass, the less you have to worry about.
- Stop helping them. I’ve personally been in the coworker sabotage situation. The coworkers I thought were friends and I always helped, stabbed me in the back. They told the higher ups that if I had enough time to always want to help them I must not be doing my own job. They took credit for all the help I gave them. Frankly, it pissed me off. If you suspect your coworkers of anything or they constantly want your help, stop helping them. It’s their job and they can either do it or get fired.
- Outperform them. The best way to get back a conspiring coworker is to outperform them. If they came up with a great idea, come up with a better one. Make sure the boss notices how well you do your job. Make a list of everything you do and how much value you bring to the company. Discuss this with your boss during your annual review. Nothing makes this type of coworker more frustrated than watching you succeed.
- Try to talk it out. If, and this is a big if, your coworker isn’t all bad, try to talk it out. Find out what they have against you. Maybe they heard a rumor you were after their job. Most of them will just deny anything is going on, but some are willing to talk to you honestly. If it is just a misunderstanding, talking could resolve the problem. It never hurts to at least try this approach. If nothing else, it lets them know you’re on to them.
- Gather evidence. If you CYA on everything, you already have quite a bit of evidence. Even if you have to record conversations, try to gather as much evidence as possible. You want anything that shows you’re doing your job and your coworker is lying and trying to sabotage you. You’ll need this if it ever comes down to their word against yours.
- Take it to HR. When it becomes more obvious and things are starting to escalate, take it to HR. It’s the most professional thing to do. It doesn’t make you a wuss, it makes you an adult. Go by yourself to start with and take in your evidence. HR will usually talk to both parties separately and then together. Your bosses and other coworkers may be asked what they think as well.
- Get backup from other coworkers. Remember I said all coworkers aren’t bad. Despite my experience, I still had other coworkers who jumped to my defense. They saw exactly what was going on. It pays to listen when one of your coworkers tells you to watch out for someone else. They could just be trying to cause trouble, but it’s worth watching your back anyway. Try to have a relationship with all your coworkers. It really does pay to make friends when you can. Backup can make all the difference.
- Ignore them. As long as you’re doing your job to the best of your ability and your boss isn’t paying any attention to the sabotaging coworkers, just ignore them. Many coworkers try to sabotage you by frustrating you to the point of making mistakes or doing something against them. The idea is to make you out to be the bad guy. Their reputation seems spotless. Don’t let them get to you. Ignore them and watch all their carefully laid plans fall to pieces.
- Move on. Sometimes it gets so bad that it’s not worth staying around. Working in a toxic environment isn’t good for you. Your work might still be good, but the constant petty politics start to wear you down. You end up negative and bitter. You even hate what you once loved to do. It’s not worth it to stay in a bad situation, especially if your boss or HR won’t do anything to help you. This doesn’t mean your coworker won. It means the company lost a great employee because they were too silly to fire the troublemaker.
Meddling coworkers can happen at any job. Stand tall, focus on your job and show them exactly what you’re made of. You will win in the end.