How to Deal With an Employee Who Is Trying to Sabotage You

Their concerns may be petty, but you still have to deal with workers' complaints.

Their concerns may be petty, but you still have to deal with workers' complaints.

You have enough to deal with as the supervisor or boss at your workplace -- but when someone's trying to sabotage you, it's time to drop a few things off the list and give the issue the attention it deserves. An employee who's trying to sabotage you or your company is a big problem that could result in reduced productivity, a damaged company reputation or a spread of the virus that results in total mutiny. Minimize the damage by taking action now.

Develop a workplace code of conduct, and put it in your employee handbook. By clearly outlining the behaviors that are accepted and not accepted in the workplace, you'll have something to refer to when an employee gets out of line. Your code of conduct code may include directions about what employees can and cannot reveal about the company in social media and other outside outlets, how they deal with the press, and how employees are expected to treat one another. Make all employees aware that you've created this code of conduct; or if you already have one, send it out as a reminder.

Open up the lines of communication. If you have one employee who's trying to sabotage you, chances are she has some complaints -- and she may not be the only one. Allow the employee to sound off about her complaints in a group setting, such as a regularly scheduled team meeting in which all staff are invited to make suggestions for improving the workplace. During these meetings, be very careful in your language and communication materials, taking steps to show workers that you want their voices to be heard. When you hear feedback, work on implementing the suggested changes, and then report back about your progress at the next meeting.

Document any instances of sabotage you observe. If you already know the employee is trying to sabotage you, chances are it's because you've seen or heard about things she's doing to bring you down. Write down the date, time and nature of the incidents, and keep them in a safe place where co-workers will not stumble upon them. In the event that the problem escalates and the employee tries to get you fired -- or tries to destroy the reputation of the company -- you'll have evidence of her directed efforts against you, which may prove she's more vindictive than victim.

Arrange a one-on-one meeting with the employee to discuss the issues she may be having. Sometimes, simply talking about the issues may help you discover what it is about you that the employee doesn't like. This may involve developing an action plan for both you and her to follow, so that you're both engaging in behaviors that are amenable to both parties. By remaining humble and listening to what she has to say, you may be able to come to some compromise that has her feeling listened to and understood, while at the same time leaving you feeling more secure about the future. At the same time, remember that you're the boss; so remain the authority and don't let her dictate all the terms. After the meeting, document the content of the conversation.

Talk with your Human Resources department or your direct supervisor about the problem. If things are getting out of hand and you've made an attempt to solve the issue yourself, you need to get others involved. Your HR department or fellow managers can help you monitor the situation and keep an eye out for bad behavior; they can also provide direction about a possible reassignment of duties for the person, or possibly even advise that you let the person go.

Tip

  • Once you've set a code of conduct policy, it's up to you to enforce it. Check out your employees' social media profiles, blogs or other outside sources to make sure they're not spreading bad will about your company; if they are, you may have grounds to let someone go.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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