What Does It Mean When Someone Is 'Sandbagged' in Corporate Jobs?

A person engages in sandbagging to make her work appear outstanding.

A person engages in sandbagging to make her work appear outstanding.

Sandbagging occurs when a person intentionally sets the bar for success low, knowing that she will be able to surpass expectations. An employee typically engages in this practice so she can receive glowing reviews for her work and be viewed as an outstanding performer. She avoids setting realistic expectations for her performance because she does not want to be viewed as average.

Examples of Sandbagging

Sandbagging is commonly seen in sales departments, as sales staff works to reach their monthly and annual targets. Many companies give a bonus to an employee who exceeds her quota, so this may motivate her to try to keep her goal down, so she can easily surpass it. Another practice common in sales departments is someone who has already met quota for the month, so she keep extra sales under wraps and moves them to the next month, to ensure she reaches her quota during slow periods. Sales team members aren’t the only employees guilty of sandbagging. Any worker can engage in this practice. For example, if a manager assigns a few tasks to an employee and she finishes most of them before lunchtime, saving the last few to slowly complete during the course of the entire afternoon, that also qualifies as sandbagging.

Reasons People Sandbag

People engage in sandbagging for a number of reasons. Common motives include a lack of confidence in her own skills to complete her job, not having the enthusiasm to perform well and a fear of failure or success. Sandbagging is a way for a worker with these characteristics to coast through her job without ever having to challenge herself. An employee may be afraid of becoming a one-time success story, where she is able to achieve impressive results once, but can’t reach such high levels a second time.

Reasons Not to Sandbag

Sandbagging can only get you so far in business. This tactic may work well on clients and associates you haven’t worked with extensively, but eventually they’re going to figure you out. Many professionals consider sandbagging lying because, in a way, it is. If people discover you’ve sandbagged them, it can damage your professional reputation.

Spotting a Sandbagger

It’s not always easy to identify a sandbagger, as these people are often smooth-talking sales professionals or otherwise have the ability to talk a good game. Oftentimes you’ll never even know you’ve been sandbagged, but eventually you may catch on. If an employee continues to set the same goals for herself or seems bored despite claims of a full workload, she might be engaging in a bit of sandbagging.

 

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