Friday, April 17, 2009

Beware of the Set Up!

If employers engage in sabotage, it will usually be connected to any false or exaggerated allegations already being made by a supervisor, manager, etc. For instance, a supervisor, who is falsely accusing a complaining employee of missing deadlines, may overwhelm the employee with assignments and may make a lot of changes to the work instructions in order to make it nearly impossible for the complaining employee to complete work in a timely fashion. Or, a supervisor, who is falsely accusing an employee of not being a team player, may ask the employee to do things which are unethical (knowing they will refuse) or may ask the employee to do the work of someone very junior to the targeted employee as a means of demeaning the targeted employee with menial work. Any refusal may be cast in the light of the targeted employee not supporting the team/coworkers.

Sometimes sabotage isn’t connected to preexisting false allegations, but only serves to create new problems for a complaining employee who has performed at an exemplary level. A supervisor or an employer may decide they need to create the justification to target this complaining employee. Since there is no history of problems for a high performer, problems must be created from scratch. Negative patterns of behavior must be established. Outright lies, committed to writing, are often joined with acts of sabotage. Every effort will often be made to make new allegations of problems appear to be historic in nature.

Dealing with sabotage isn’t easy because acts of sabotage may be part of a wider conspiracy. I worked with a manager, who was sabotaged and isolated by supervisors, managers, and directors working across our job site. The level of collusion against this manager was hard to believe, but was real enough. Agents of an employer will often do whatever is commanded.

So, to fight back against sabotage, you need to:

1) Stay on point with your work. Don’t give anyone ammunition to use against you;

2) DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. I can’t write this enough;

3) Maintain copies of all written instructions, so that if you are set up for failure, you can pull out the guidelines you were given to perform your work;

4) Get verbal instructions in writing. If someone asks you to do x, y, and z, drop that into an email to confirm these are the instructions. If you are not given clarification or changes to your understanding of the instructions (the email), then you have been given a green light to proceed with the work as you understand it;

5) Keep copies of all emails and memos, no matter how routine they seem. You never know when one line in an email or memo may be what you need to support a point you need to make later;

6) Keep logs and/or thorough notes regarding your assignments and meetings, so that you can recall the information at a later time (including who said what and when);

7) Keep logs and thorough notes about the coworkers, managers, etc. whom you believe are acting in concert against you;

8) Make sure you are not blamed for mistakes caused by other staff. It is not uncommon for a targeted employee to be blamed for the mistakes of others, such as typos in a document, items not getting to a client, etc.

9) Respond to false allegations about your work performance, attitude, etc.; and

10) Look out for the traps that may be set for you. If you know certain people are shady or out to get you, dissect every email and every word they say. Be on the lookout for signs you are being documented, such as a supervisor writing in an email the false allegation that you’ve “repeatedly” made some mistake or that numerous people have noticed something negative about your behavior.

Do not assume that the people you work with (even those you’ve grown to like) are above setting you up for failure via acts of sabotage. People are strange creatures. Most people look out for their best interest and not anyone else’s.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this blog. Another place to vent/get support... thanks :-)

7:44 AM  

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