When Managers and Co-Workers Attack
In the U.S., most workers spend approximately 34.5 hours per week at their jobs. That amounts to about one-fifth of your time per week, not counting the time we spend taking our work home – either in our briefcases, laptops or in our hearts.
Yes, some of us seldom clock-out; we take our work home in our hearts and minds due to the unnecessary stress, manipulation, lies, and other poor behaviors by our managers or co-workers.
Sure, it’s after 5pm, but you’re still furious about the inter-office gossip about you. Or, perhaps you’re struggling to find a way to prove that the issues with your work product weren’t there a day ago before your co-worker changed something. You don’t know what they did or how they did it, but you know they’re the culprit.
You are experiencing workplace sabotage.
Workplace sabotage sucks, but we have solutions in our playbook, the Bible, to help. Before we dive in further, let’s talk about what workplace sabotage is not. Teammate, if you are:
- Coming to work late, coming back from lunch late, leaving work early…
- Doing just enough of your job to say that you were “there”…
- A busybody in the work “lanes” of everyone else…
- Constantly needing a co-worker to pick up your slack or “cover me”…
- Known for bringing management more problems than solutions…
…and you feel like you’re being sabotaged at work? No. You’re not being sabotaged – you’re simply not doing your job as “unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23-24) and feeling the pressure to change. You’re not being “attacked by the enemy”, you are self-sabotaging yourself. It doesn’t feel good to be pressed and refined out of your resistance to line up and show up to work as a child of the Most High. Remember:
You cannot sabotage mediocrity, laziness, or disobedience.
Now, for those of you who are working in excellence and experiencing external workplace sabotage, here are some tips for you:
1. Recognize that you aren’t fighting against flesh and blood.
The surefire way to lose any battle is to fight the wrong enemy. When dealing with workplace sabotage, we as followers of Christ set ourselves up for failure and/or inefficiency when we misidentify our true enemy.
I understand – it’s hard to look at that co-worker or manager and not point the finger directly at them. But, we have to remember that there are “rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12) lurking everywhere in our lives. And, what better place for the devil to wage war than where we spend 20% or more of our time, the place that represents the foundation of our livelihood and finances?
As offended and angry as you may be, apply the blood of Jesus to the spiritual wickedness and God’s grace to your co-worker or manager. Stand fully dressed in the armor of God against principalities – the Lord will rebuke the devourer of your peace at work (Malachi 3:11). Pray for your offender’s salvation, that God would change their heart, heal them from the damage that informs them that it’s okay to mistreat others.
2. Don’t talk too much on the job.
One of the worst things you can do when you’re facing workplace sabotage is to tell others on the job what you feel is going on. The next worst thing you can do is tell the wrong person or people on the job. Talk about adding gasoline to a fire!
The safest place for your words right now is in the ears of God. Tell God how you really feel, where it hurts – not everyone on the job who will listen. Take your tantrum to the Lord – He can handle it! If God gives you clearance, talk to a wise, trusted confidant on or off the job. Yes, we all need to vent sometimes, and holding things inside can adversely affect your physical, mental, and emotional health. During this season, be clear-thinking and discern who’s earned the right to be your counsel.
3. Don’t retaliate with counter-intelligence.
Never use the inside knowledge you have about your co-worker or manager against them as a form of retaliation. Remember, it’s not the world’s way of doing business, and people will not understand why you don’t strike back – but we don’t repay evil for evil. Team Jesus overcomes evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).
So, if the one causing you trouble ever needs help, and you have the means or knowledge to do so – help them! Show love and kindness to your enemy. They won’t know what hit them, but they will know that you didn’t hit them with what they deserved. And for that, God will reward you.
4. Learn your employer’s protocol for conflict resolution.
Your human resources department is just that – a resource. Find your HR representative and seek confidential guidance on how to handle the conflict. There’s typically some protocol or process to help employees work through their issues. During conflict resolution, be open-minded to anything you could have done better – there may be some underlying misunderstanding or misperception by your offender that needed a 3rd party to help clear up. Be honest and stay calm through the process.
5. Bow out gracefully.
You’re fired. You feel defeated, perhaps abused, and it seems like they’ve won. It’s not fair. Yet, even in what looks like your “L“, hold your head up high and leave with grace and integrity.
You see, teammate, what looks like an unfair loss is actually a setup for your good (Romans 8:28). Is being released from your job the final domino for you to finally use your knowledge and skills to start a successful business?
For me, this exact scenario was the stepping stone to my promised land. After being wrongfully let go, I was redirected to another area of the company. It was in this place that management would search for an individual with my knowledge and skill, and give me a promotion with all the bells, whistles, and the salary I desired! I was being sabotaged to be found at the right place, right time! Will you allow yourself to be sabotaged all the way to your promised land? The key is leaving your season of captivity with dignity and a good name.
So, What’s the Play Call?
In the midst of workplace sabotage, keep your focus on honoring God. Do what He says to do, how and when He says to do it. This keeps you in a position to receive God’s best from the ordeal. That’s the plan – good is coming out of your struggle!
Sleep well at night knowing that God is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17). He’s in the fire with you – protecting you from the smoke and the flames. Power belongs to God, not management, not the lies, not the efforts to sabotage you. Keep a song in your heart as the Lord, likewise, sings over you.
Need a sign that God has not forgotten you, that He will come through for you at your job? In the midst of my rejection and feeling cast aside, here’s the post-it note that was left at my new desk when #5 (above) happened. It’s yours now. Believe me – God keeps His promises!