What To Do When A Co-Worker Sabotages Projects
Have you found yourself in an office situation with a co-worker that is not only difficult to deal with, and has poor communication skills but also gets in the way of others performing successfully? This office situation is common and if you’ve experienced this yourself, you’ll enjoy this letter I recieved and responded to. (Real names not used.)
I’m looking for help in dealing with someone who repeatedly ‘sabotages’ work projects – often through poor communication/lack of communication and the subsequent misunderstandings this causes, or through making decisions that don’t appear to make much sense. It occurs when the person ‘strays’ into areas of work that are not their responsibility (and have been repeatedly clarified as being part of someone else’s role).
The person appears to be searching for appreciation – I suspect the sabotage is partly to try to avoid other people getting the appreciation she is looking for. Can you give
me any advice on strategies to resolve this problem?
Hello and thanks for writing. It does sound like ‘Get Appreciation’ could be the driving force. Either that, or feeling out of control, she undermines the control of others. In either case, and basing my response only on this limited information and without the opportunity to gather information, (pardon my caveats, but…there’s likely more to this story than initially meets the eye, and my response may miss by a mile as a result) here my initial response.
I would document the problem. Captain’s log on the bridge of the Enterprise.
- What specifically happened.
- Who else was there when it happened (witnesses).
- Where it happened and when.
- The consequences and cost of it happening, extrapolated into the future.
When you have three specific examples logged, you could go to this person directly and create a focused meeting in which you describe the problem and offer the evidence and then ask her for an accounting. “What’s going on? What are you trying to accomplish by doing this? What needs to happen for this to stop?”
Then you could say what you want instead. Be specific. If there are consequences, you could spell them out. Preferably positive ones if the behavior changes, and negative ones if it doesn’t. I would leave her with the choice, but stand firmly behind the consequences.
You can find many of the keys to dealing successfully with a difficult co-worker improving your own skills of persuasion in order to create positive change. Let me know if you’ve experienced this problem with an “office sabotager” and how you resolved the situation.
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.