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Build Your Career Office Life

Co-Workers Sabotaging Your Career? Here's How to Deal

Co-Workers Sabotaging Your Career? Here's How to Deal
Credit: Ra2studio/Shutterstock

There's a strong chance you're not getting the type of support you're looking for from some of your co-workers, new research finds.

In fact, rather than trying to help you succeed, some of your co-workers could be trying to make sure you fail, according to a new study from the staffing firm The Creative Group.

Overall, nearly one-third of executives in the survey said colleagues had tried at one time or another to sabotage their careers. Luckily, however, that number is down significantly from 2008, when 50 percent of the executives surveyed said co-workers had tried to make them look bad on the job.

Workers who do feel others around the office are trying to hurt their careers handle the situations in a variety of ways. The research revealed that 41 percent of those surveyed confront the person directly, 40 percent notify the person's boss or the human resources department and 10 percent talk to a separate colleague about the situation. Just 6 percent of those surveyed said they do nothing. [Rude Behavior at Work Is Contagious ... And Bad for Business ]

"Some professionals are so competitive that they'll do just about anything to get ahead," Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, said in a statement. "Being able to handle challenging or difficult co-workers — and maintaining healthy working relationships — is crucial for career success, particularly in environments that require a great deal of collaboration."

To help those who have co-workers who are trying to hurt their careers, The Creative Group identified a few ways that colleagues sabotage each other, and a few strategies for dealing with it:

  • Credit thieves: These employees openly steal your ideas and try to take all of the credit for a project's success. To ward off these types of sabotage, try keeping a written report of your activities and accomplishments, and provide your boss with regular project-status updates.
  • Belittlers: These employees constantly diminish the work of others in an attempt to make themselves look better. Since these workers tend to back off when you confront them, try using facts to refute their criticism.
  • Sly sharks: These workers tend to leave you hanging when you're really relying on them. These are the most difficult saboteurs to identify, because you typically don't realize you're working with one until a deadline arrives. At that point, you aren't able to meet the deadline because a co-worker has withheld important information.

The best way to handle these situations is to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of everyone on your team. Additionally, have regular check-in meetings to ensure these types of sabotaging co-workers can't take advantage of lapses in oversight.

The study was based on surveys of more than 400 U.S. advertising and marketing executives.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer with more than 20 years of media experience. A graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff as a senior writer. Currently, Chad covers a wide range of B2B products and services, including business phone systems, time and attendance systems, payroll services, and conference call services. Before joining Business News Daily and business.com, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. Chad's first book, "How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business," was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.