Have you ever felt that your supervisor or co-worker was undermining your performance? Tactics may include withholding information, failing to tell you about important meetings or just being plain uncooperative. It’s the classic example of the professional saboteur — someone who is consistently uncooperative, making your job more challenging, and at times, impossible. How do you deal with it?
“Avoid a personal attack,” advises Suzette Spann Scarborough, a human resource professional at American International Group, a New York-based insurance company. Though you might be tempted to give the person a piece of your mind, you should stick to discussing work- related issues. “Name calling, accusations and other insults only indicate that the situation has gotten the best of you. Always keep your cool,” she adds. If talking fails, Scarborough offers the following suggestions:
- Establish a relationship with upper management. Advise your managers about the problem. Also keep them informed about your professional achievements and the status of ongoing projects. Ask for suggestions on solving the problem.
- Keep written records. Write up your conversations with the saboteur as a memo and send a copy to your boss. Keep a calendar of your work activities and document interactions with clients.
- Assess your performance — honestly. Is there room for improvement? Sharpen your skills and ensure that your work is up to speed.
- Get the support of other colleagues. Is your co-worker’s behavior also affecting other employees? Encourage them to express their concerns to their immediate supervisor. You can outsmart the undermining employee through teamwork.