Career Advice

20 Alarming Signs You Are Being Sabotaged At Work

In a perfect world, people would come together in the workplace and work as a team for the company’s greater good. No one would step on anyone’s toes or try to harm another human being who wants to earn a paycheck.

However, this isn’t a perfect world, and that’s why malicious acts such as workplace sabotage exist. Here’s a little information about the signs of workplace sabotage and other helpful data.

What Is Workplace Sabotage?

Workplace sabotage is a series of acts in the realm of bullying and abuse. It includes humiliation, ridicule, shouting, monitoring, and interfering with one’s work duties or success.

Workers, managers, or other individuals intentionally try to cause a target to quit or get fired because they do not want such a person around. In some cases, sabotage occurs to ruin any chances of the individual ever advancing within the company.

Why Does Workplace Sabotage Occur?

Sabotage at work occurs for a variety of reasons. In many cases, individuals feel threatened about their positions. Sometimes, insecurity rears its ugly head and causes people to react by annihilating the perceived “threat.”

Other times, the entire workplace is a clique that doesn’t want anyone new to enter. Additionally, some individuals have abusive personalities and outright enjoy harming “weaker” people.

Weak-minded people often follow such personalities so that they don’t have to be on the receiving end of the abuse.

Workplace Sabotaging and Bullying Statistics

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released some statistics about workplace bullying and sabotage. In this report, they concluded that 57 percent of victims are women. Research also concluded that more women are likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder due to workplace bullying than men.

It was also reported that 24 percent of workers had experienced bullying, and 12 percent of workers had seen at least one person get bullied. It’s unclear how many of that 12 percent stepped up for the victims.

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20 Signs You Are Being Sabotaged at Work

Work sabotage can make you feel inadequate, incompetent, and useless, no matter what you do. You’ll know that something is wrong with the workplace dynamics if you feel a bad taste in your mouth every time you leave, and you dread going back because the workplace kills your joy. However, these are 20 signs you are being sabotaged at work:

1. You’re Being Trained Improperly

Improper training is one of the most prevalent signs you are being sabotaged at work.

Look out for trainers and helpers who tell you to do things improperly and then report your “errors” to the manager and the rest of your coworkers.

The chances are high that this person does not want you to succeed.

Read More: “My Boss Won’t Train Me”: How To Overcome This Obstacle?  

2. You Get Put on the Frontline With Partial Knowledge

In a sabotage situation, your bosses may put you on the frontline knowing that you’ve only received part of your training and don’t yet feel confident in the position.

This might conveniently be a time when one of the higher-ups is visiting. Incidentally, he or she will be reviewing your work and taking notes that day.

3. You Get Set Up

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Your coworkers or bosses may also set you up in a situation, hoping that you’ll do something wrong.

For example, they may “accidentally” drop money on the floor or “accidentally” leave the entire back door to the facility open so that you can walk in, not knowing that your supervisor isn’t even there.

You’ll do the right thing and not take anything from your employer, and then your sabotagers will try much harder to get rid of you using other tactics.

4. You’re Not Given Tools to Succeed

Another one of the signs someone is sabotaging you is if you never receive supporting information. You might be missing part of your learning courses or materials if you’re being sabotaged.

In other words, they’ll forget to give you what you need, throw you into the job, and then talk about you horribly if you make any mistakes.

5. Other People Take Credit for Your Work

A coworker or boss might take credit for something you do behind your back. The person who does that will then receive praise and recognition for doing it.

6. Your Coworkers “Snitch” on You

Sabotaging coworkers always run straight to the boss with complaints instead of clueing you in about what you’re doing wrong. This usually happens because they want the boss to have a negative impression of your work ethic.

7. Your Coworkers Outright Lie on You

Unscrupulous coworkers may outright lie about things you did or didn’t do. Then you’ll hear something from a supervisor about wrongdoing you have no recollection of doing.

Read More: What Employers Need To Know About Lying At Work Disciplinary Action

8. Higher-Ups Subtly Mention Your Alleged Flaws

You can feel confident that your coworkers or boss is sabotaging you if the higher-ups come to you about your work flaws.

Even worse, the higher-ups may completely ignore you, which is a huge sign that you won’t ever be moving up any higher than where you’re at.

9. You Get Your Responsibility or Tasks Taken Away

You may be getting sabotaged if you notice that your responsibilities are reduced or minimized. It indicates that someone now believes you are incapable of handling them.

10. People Jump in Front of You Unnecessarily

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Some people can’t handle their insecurity, and they will literally jump in front of you while you’re working to put a spotlight on themselves. They might even push you out of the way. Unfortunately, even managers do this when insecurity levels are high.

11. You’re Constantly Being Watched

The stalking and monitoring acts are a mix of bullying and sabotage. The idea is to make you feel so uncomfortable and nervous that you either leave or make numerous errors.

Read More: Top 7 Reasons Why I Hate Working In An Office (And What To Do About It)

12. You’re Left Out of Important Meetings

You may be in a sabotage situation if you find yourself left out of important meetings. Those meetings usually cover important processes, sales numbers, new products, and the like.

If you don’t get invited to the meeting, perhaps someone doesn’t want you to have that knowledge.

13. You Get Asked Strange Questions

Be leery if your coworkers ask you personal questions, strange questions, and questions that pertain to information they shouldn’t know.

They may be trying to get some dirt on you or get you to verify information that they found in their “research.”

14. You Experience Group Humiliation

Sabotage and bullying are usually group activities. Therefore, you may notice that several people participate in humiliating you, and no one comes to your defense.

15. Everything You Say Gets Twisted and Recycled

Every word you say will usually get twisted and recycled as something that causes conflict if you’re sabotaged.

You might even hear some recycled written or verbal texts from before you worked there if the group has put a lot of effort into studying you.

16. You Have to Look Over Your Shoulder Constantly

You will feel like you can’t even work without looking over your shoulder because someone’s eyeballs will be plastered on any mistake you make, and then the gossip will start.

This is common in bullying and sabotage situations, and it gets old quickly.

17. Someone Is Always Distracting You

Distracting is a popular form of sabotage, and it’s meant to steer you away from work or cause you to make errors.

Be leery of someone who has a lot of conversation with you during busy times or while your boss is watching you to see your progress. That person may be trying to mess you up on purpose.

18. They Gossip and Badmouth Others

Gossiping and backbiting are toxic, even if you’re not the subject. Sometimes, malicious coworkers will speak badly about other people to you so that they can say you were participating. You don’t have to say a word, and they will still say that you said or did such and such a thing.

Be careful and keep in mind that gossipers talk about everyone. Imagine the horrible things they say about you if you hear them speak negatively about someone who has been there for a while.

19. Your Coworkers Socially Undermine You

Social undermining is also something that sabotaging coworkers may do.

For example, they may spread a rumor that you spoke badly about someone or flirted with their love interest, even if you never did such a thing.

The idea is to alienate you from other people who may have liked you as a person and team member.

20. Your Coworkers Try to Make You Believe You Imagine Things

The worst part of sabotage and bullying is that it worsens if you try to address it. Participants will deny what they’re doing if you mention it to a supervisor, and then they’ll ramp it up so that it’s 10 times worse for you.

You’ll be blamed for getting upset, and the situation will be turned around to make it look like you have a problem, and they didn’t do anything wrong.

How to Tell If Your Boss Is Sabotaging You

While sabotage by coworkers can be extremely damaging, often the most insidious sabotage comes from above. If you suspect your own boss may be actively working to undermine you, beware of these signs of managerial sabotage.

10 Sneaky Signs Your Boss Is Sabotaging You

1. Withholding Important Information

One of the most common ways a manager can undermine you is by keeping you out of the loop. They may “forget” to notify you about important meetings, decisions that affect your work, or changes in company policies.

Without crucial information, you can’t do your job effectively. This allows your boss to criticize your performance. Make sure you stay in regular communication with your boss and team to avoid this.

2. Providing Inadequate Resources

A sabotaging boss won’t provide the resources you need to complete projects. They may deny budget requests, give you malfunctioning equipment, or stick you with inadequate staffing.

When you inevitably can’t deliver, they can place blame on you. If this happens, document your resource requests and issues in writing.

3. Assigning Meaningless Tasks

Being assigned pointless busywork is demoralizing. A manager who wants you gone may load you up with tasks well below your skill level to make you feel useless.

Push back professionally if you’re overqualified for assignments. Offer to take on more challenging projects.

4. Encouraging Errors

Some toxic bosses deliberately try to confuse employees by giving vague, contradictory directions. This breeds mistakes they can criticize you for later.

Get clear communication in writing to CYA when given ambiguous orders. Seek clarification if needed.

5. Unfairly Claiming Credit

A big red flag is when someone higher up consistently takes credit for your hard work. They may present your ideas as their own in front of senior leadership.

Protect yourself by documenting all your contributions. Email summaries of projects to your boss so there’s a paper trail.

6. Blaming Without Cause

When things go wrong, unsupportive managers look for scapegoats instead of solutions. You may get accused of mishaps beyond your control.

Don’t accept blame that isn’t warranted. Calmly explain the facts and reiterate how you’re committed to constructive problem-solving.

7. Nitpicking and Micromanaging

Micromanagers undermine employees by over-scrutinizing work and restricting autonomy. Sabotaging bosses take this farther by hyper-focusing on trivial flaws.

Address this respectfully by emphasizing you want to meet expectations and asking for constructive feedback on priorities.

8. Overloading You

Giving one employee an unreasonable workload or unrealistic deadlines is a go-to sabotage tactic. When you inevitably fall behind, the boss looks generous for “helping out.”

Track all your tasks and time spent. If overloaded, show how more resources could improve outcomes. Leverage coworkers.

9. Sabotaging Promotions

A manager invested in blocking your career growth may give you overly negative performance reviews. Or they’ll fail to consider you for promotions you deserve.

Combat this by getting facetime with senior leadership on cross-collaboration projects. Seek mentorship from allies at higher levels.

10. Turning Coworkers Against You

A threatened boss might try to undermine your workplace relationships and social capital. They may spread rumors or isolate you from team bonding.

Maintain positive relationships with colleagues. Clear up any misunderstandings quickly and professionally if they arise. Kill ’em with kindness.

Final Words

You may be getting sabotaged at work if you’re experiencing some or all of the above-mentioned occurrences. You may want to consider parting ways if you haven’t had the job very long. You certainly don’t want to force anyone to have to “walk on eggshells.”

The employment world is full of opportunities, and not all places have toxic cultures that engage in bullying and sabotage. Think about moving on if you’ve experienced several signs you are being sabotaged at work, and you have very little energy left in your body. As they say, life is too short to put up with signs you are being sabotaged at work.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.