Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Being Bamboozled and Set Up By An Employer

Some employers will engage in acts of sabotage against an employee they have decided to target for whatever reason. Usually, the sabotage will 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...

I found this on the web and I hope it will be as rewarding as it was for me. I had to remove the name of the company because that's not important ---
I thought this would be an intwresting example of some tactics compamies use ---
Many victims of psychological harassment suffer from physical ailments, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, stress, fatigue, depressive states, burn outs, and in some cases suicide. Many are unable to continue working and suffer financial loss. In some cases the causes are over work, unrealistic work demands, withholding information and resources, arbitrary removal of responsibilities, public humiliation, consistent over time, lack of professional autonomy, favoritism and nepotism, excessive competitive work environment, disorganized working conditions, ambiguous tasks or contradictory tasks, tasks that are deprived of purpose, constant threats of dismissal, leadership styles, lack of communication, and intimidation. Violence has different forms: Physical and Psychological. Many safe guards have been put in place to prevent physical violence in our society but few if any exist to prevent psychological violence. Psychological Harassment has many forms: the most common being verbal abuse. Some tactics aim at trying to humiliate or weaken the morale of individuals or groups. Mobbing also referred to by some as Bullying, psychological terrorism, and organizational violence is described as a collective form of psychological violence in which many individuals unite to persecute an individual by making constant negative remarks, repeated criticism or sarcasm, intimidation, threats, insinuations, try to humiliate, circulate false information concerning the individual, and to socially isolate the individual. Mobbing is a way of destroying a person without using any physical means, a psychological war of nerves with wear the individual out tactics. A group attacks an individual's dignity, integrity, self-image, self-confidence, self-esteem, place in doubt of competence, threaten their careers, and means of subsistence. One method used to induce distress or suffering in a person is by systematically isolating them from their peers. After a few months some victims can suffer from psychiatric difficulties such as paranoia, chronic fatigue, loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, and depression. "A tactic that is sometimes used, to break a person down psychologically and physically, is to induce as much stress as possible for a long period of time." This tactic is often used to cause macromineral deficiencies and acid-base disorders in the victim. One tactic is to attack or upset, emotional or mood change, the victim early in the day or morning. This can set the mood or have a lasting effect through out the day. (see Negative Conditioning) Another tactic is to attack or upset the victim late in the work day on Fridays just before a restful weekend. This has the effect of causing the victim to think or worry, anxiety, about the attack or event through out the weekend.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ye i am due to be disciplined at work asda in Poole Dorset for something i did not do and no on believe me just got from holiday and there is so much said and i am going to loose my job for nothing and no one will listen to me why and what can i do?

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had just stumbled across this entry, and I must say that in my last job I had suspected one (or a group) of my superiors had been sabotaging me for months. I could never either completely confirm my suspicions, or find concrete evidence that it was just my imagination. I had long since slipped up and got laid off from that position. I was on the verge of transferring to a different department at the time and was told at my exit interview that the transfer paperwork was not revoked or voided, and that I should hear from the other department in a matter of days. No such call came. As time marched on, I had two theories about what why I did not get that call: my manager lied either lied to me about the transfer paperwork going through or "conveniently disclosed" my the grounds for my dismissal from the department, thus blacklisting me from being re-hired in any program. After reading this article, I regret not requesting that he put the statement that my application for transfer was sent. Thank you for posting this.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite assertions to the contrary, I've had a gut feeling for months that I was being sabotaged at work. I was being written up for errors that I definitely didn't remember making and it was getting to the point that I couldn't tell whether the errors I was taking the flak for, were mine or those of others who'd been assigned to the same task. I seriously felt like I was imagining things, and I was made to lose confidence in my professional ability, what with my version of events being contested by my superiors. And, on no less than two separate occasions, paperwork mysteriously went missing from my desk drawer, but I have since moved it to a separate location. I can't seem to prove my theory, but, my instinct is NEVER wrong. I was being told that I was making twenty errors a day, which I know isn't true. I've never made that many in a day in my entire career to date! Since we overhauled the system, guess how many errors cropped up today? Two! It's early days yet, but thanks to your post, it's helped me recognise the wide and varied signs of sabotage at work.

11:52 AM  

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