Career Advice

8 Definitive Signs You Are Being Sabotaged at Work

sabotage at work

Few things feel worse than the realization that you are being sabotaged at work. What makes this experience particularly awful is that your reputation and professionalism may have already suffered before you figure things out. Also, unless you have serious proof, any claim you make about being sabotaged may be dismissed as paranoia or failure to be accountable for your work performance. 

It’s a tough position to be in, but a solvable one. The key to addressing the issue is learning to spot the wrongdoing early on and developing a coping mechanism. 

How Can You Tell if Someone is Sabotaging You?

It can be difficult to tell if someone is sabotaging you. A mistake that appears for something you have double-checked is a sign of sabotage at work. Also, be wary of someone who always seems to be present when things go wrong for you, especially if they benefit from your failures.

8 Signs You Are Being Sabotaged at Work

At-work sabotage is more common than you think, especially in managerial positions.  A recent survey by Propeller Research found that managers are two times more likely to sabotage another manager — in most cases to improve their own reputation. 

Backbiting is more common among people in positions of power (14% for employees and 26% for managers). Managers were more likely to take credit for others’ work: 16% of managers would steal ideas while only 5% of employees would do the same. 

The same survey also showed that men were more likely to commit sabotage just before a performance review. In fact, they were four times more likely. However, to put that in perspective. Men were at 8% while women were at 2%. 11% of men also admitted that they had blamed others for mistakes they had made.

Though sabotage is one of the strong signs of a toxic work environment, upper management and HR don’t always deal with such behaviors, especially when such actions take place on peer levels. 

4 Signs You Are Being Sabotaged by Coworkers

Your manager may be statistically more likely to stab you in the back, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk from your coworkers. Here are four signs that someone you work with is actively trying to make you look bad.

1. You Are Being Treated Differently

Have you noticed that there’s a disparity in the way you are treated compared to your coworkers? For example, they may be praised for their work on a project while your contributions are ignored. Another common situation is that your coworkers are given opportunities to learn and advance while you are not. Yet when you ask for a promotion, your requests are overlooked.  

2. You Always Get Tasks No One Else Wants

Getting a disproportionally bigger or undesired workload could be a sign of coworker sabotage. Don’t play into this by accepting the most unpleasant tasks without any discussion. 

3. Coworkers Snitch or Lie on You

In most workplaces, there tends to be a level of cooperation among coworkers. They don’t tattle on one another over little things. They certainly don’t run to management with lies to get each other into trouble. If this isn’t the case where you work, someone could be trying to sabotage you.

coworkers snitching in the office

4. You’re Being Excluded From Social Conversations

Do your coworkers clam up when you enter the breakroom? Are you no longer invited to work happy hours? Have you been removed from private chat groups? You are being shut out and that could mean other workers are discussing how to sabotage you.

4 Signs You Are Being Sabotaged at Work by Your Boss

Why would your boss sabotage you? One common reason is that they are trying to come up with a “cause” to fire you. They may also be trying to create a toxic work environment that leads you to hand in a resignation letter. Some managers will sabotage you if you are perceived as a threat. 

Here are four signs that the management might be eager to undermine you. 

1. You Are Excluded From Important Meetings or Projects

Your boss decides who gets to sit in on important meetings and attend other group events. If you are cut out, they may be trying to prevent you from advancing in your career or withhold information that could help you succeed in your role. That’s plain bad. 

2. You Aren’t  Being Trained

First, you don’t get the training you need to do your job effectively. After a poor performance in untrained areas, you are reprimanded. This is classic sabotage that often leads to disciplinary reports and negative feedback during performance reviews. 

3. Other People Get Credit For Your Work

You put hours of overtime into a project. Then, in an all-staff meeting, your boss comments on the successful effort by thanking everybody but you. That’s a sign that they are actively trying to undermine you. By taking credit, they make it difficult for you to seek advancement opportunities or earn performance-related perks.

4. You’re Suddenly Stripped of Certain Responsibilities

Losing responsibilities could be a sign that your time with your current employer is limited. Your boss may be trying to show that you aren’t a valuable member of the team. They may also be attempting to imply that you aren’t capable of handling those responsibilities. In either case, don’t let this turn into an unwelcome demotion

What to Do When Someone is Sabotaging You at Work?

Start by documenting everything. Get all assignments in writing. Confirm any sort of disciplinary action or correction by email. BCC yourself in correspondence, but don’t include any proprietary information. Report to HR, if you have evidence. But, remember that HR is there to protect the interests of the company, but now always yours. You will need all of the information you have to defend yourself or take legal action if you are wrongfully dismissed.


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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