It’s only a matter of time. If you’re in the corporate world, at some point someone is going to want something of yours and take it, interfere with you and make it difficult for you, or block something from you and prevent you from having it. How do I know? It happened to me in the past and I hear about it from many people that I work with as a sales consultant. Often women are the first targets, but it’s not exclusive by gender. Sabotage from people you work with is a real issue in business. When it happens to you, you can be prepared. Here’s what I suggest.
This is what I mean by sabotage. It’s subtle when a manager asks for your input for a difficult decision and then you find out that the decision has already been made. There was never any intention of taking your input. Another instance is any negative talk behind your back that comes to your attention. It’s more obvious when someone publicly insults you. Here’s an example. It’s an insult if your major success is announced to the group and someone says to the group, “It wasn’t such a big deal. I’ll bet she can’t do it again.” Pay attention to your gut. If you feel undermined, you were. Now what are you going to do about it?
Doing nothing is never an option. You do have different options depending on the situation. With a public insult it’s best to confront the person directly. Just make sure you do it privately. Inform the individual that what they said was unacceptable and you expect them to avoid criticizing you publicly in the future. If the person says, “I didn’t mean it.” You must respond, “Then I accept your apology. I still expect it never to happen again.” It’s more difficult with the subtle undermining of public behavior with different private behavior. Now you’ve got to make sure your network of alliances is strong. If the perpetrator is someone above you, you’ve got to have strategic alliances in place or work on creating them. These people in your alliance have to be peers who will support you or other managers who are influential in future career decisions. How do you do this? Make sure that the results that you are producing are getting communicated to higher management and others who you work with. A A nice touch is to email thanks to the people who helped you achieve your goal. Copy these people’s managers and others who should see the note. You look gracious and the word gets out. The more people who know about your successes, the more difficult it will be for others to sabotage you and for the perpetrator to continue.
I hope your organization creates and values an environment of cooperation and trust. It just takes one person to ruin the culture. If by some error this one person becomes part of your organization and causes trouble, act fast. You better. It is no fun being a target twice.