Refuse to Participate in a Cutthroat Environment

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It’s demoralizing to have a boss who pits you against your colleagues. Don’t give in to this dynamic. Instead, collaborate with coworkers to find your own ways of working together that don’t ratchet up the competition. Tell your boss how you feel about the situation, but be diplomatic and constructive. If she thinks you’re complaining, she won’t take your concerns seriously. Discuss it with your colleague(s) first and then meet with your boss, perhaps together. Say you’d like to stop vying for the spotlight, because it’s distracting you from doing your best work. Ask if she can avoid putting you in competitive situations (and give a few examples, in case she’s not tuned in to her own behavior) so you can both be more productive—to the benefit of all.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Office Politics.

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2 comments
goldengrain
goldengrain

We had a boss who would call each person individually into his office, praise him for a job well done, and ask that he keep an eye on others whose work may be sub standard - and report back to the boss of these instances.

We all ganged together and refused to give the boss any information.  When he went to his manager's meetings he was mute when asked various questions.  One of our group eventually got promoted over him.  

What a jerk he was.