Finance for HR Nerds: GDP and How Big America's Economy Is...
Questioning Authority in Today's Organization: Naked Jumping Jacks Says It's Not Easy...

The 5 Managerial Responses to Sabotage At Work…

Human behavior is so... well... human.

How many times have you seen it?  The pressure's on at work, and maybe even layoffs look like they
might be around corner - or another round of layoffs, depending on your company's situation.  And when the pressure's on, you can bet that questionable human behavior is right around the corner.

Self-Preservation 101.  I'm good, he's bad.  Pick me, pick me!... Beastie-boys-sabotage-352116

What type of human behavior?  How about the type who will cheat to ensure an edge is gained against a co-worker you are directly or indirectly competing against?  The type of behavior you see when someone's trying to keep his job and will apparently DO WHAT IT TAKES TO CLOSE THE DEAL vs. his competitor, who also happens to be a teammate. 

How do you deal with that when it involves actions that are labeled as "sabotage"?  You know the type of internal cheating I'm talking about - email tips, gossip about someone's performance, misinformation and yes, even stealing the ideas of others and presenting them as your own.

For my money, here are the 5 most common managerial responses to sabotage/cheating at work:

1.  You ignore it because you created the system.  You tell your folks to take every inch they can get.  No such thing as a bad edge to you, right?  You wink at zero sum players of the world, even as their teammates cry.  If he'll cheat now, what will he do when you pressure him to cheat?  Cheat even more - you like that.

2.  You ignore it because you're passive and scared.  I know, I know, Johnny.  You don't condone it, but you won't confront it.  "Where's the proof?" is your mantra that keeps you on the sidelines.  Whether that's your stance because you're scared or you really want your talent to push the edge?  That's subject to public opinion.

3.  You're in support of a FIRM REPRIMAND.  But you won't disqualify the cheater from competing or even penalize him as a result.  If this is your stance, you also like to discuss the merits of committee rules.

4.  You regularly throw a crazy Nolan Ryan fastball at the head of anyone in the margins of cheating to gain a competitive advantage. They can stay the first time you catch them, but with severe prejudice that can only be overcome by lengthy periods of high performance with no artificial advantages.

5. Get a box and pack it with your stuff, because you're gone if you cheat.  This is the one we all think we would respond with, but we don't.  It's uncommon, blocked by rationalizations like:

--"I won't be able to replace them"

--"Can I still hit my budget number?"

--"I don't have enough proof"

--"We could be sued"

Ah yes, the rationalizations when the employees we love cheat.  Which response is yours?  What's your rationalization?



Great reminder for people who want to continue living a good life even after retirement. Without saying, the primary way to sabotage your retirement is spend all the money you have now, do not save for retirement and keep incurring debts.

Steve Lovig

One of my prior employers had a wonderful CEO, who TRULY cared about doing THE RIGHT THING. I will never forget the time I had to tell him our firm’s #1 Sales Rep was sexually harassing a few of the females on the staff. I completed my initial interviews and walked into the CEO’s office, prepared to defend my reasoning, explaining how it could ultimately cost our company much more than he would ever 'earn' for us, etc., etc. But instead of push-back, the CEO said "if he did it, he's got to go." One final bit of work with my investigation, and the harassing employee was out! The CEO never questioned whether we ‘could afford’ it or not, but instead, made the message clear – if you do certain things, you won’t work here! SL


thank you for this.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)