Wedding Woes

How to navigate my saboteur of a boss.

Dear Prudence,

I’m having a problem at my job. My workplace is small, with a single supervisor and just a handful of subordinates. We all work on similar but freestanding projects, so there’s some coordination, but my coworkers and I are largely unaffected by one another’s work. I recently learned that my supervisor did something that I consider inexcusable, effectively damaging a coworker’s reputation with important collaborators and setting them up for failure. My supervisor has not acknowledged the impact of this action and has aggressively minimized my coworker’s concerns. I’m feeling both outraged and conflicted about it. How can I best support my coworker through this horrible experience of sabotage? And how can I continue a working relationship with a person I’ve lost a lot of respect for? The term of my project is almost over, and if I walk away before completion I’ll have nothing to show for years of work.

—Workplace Conundrum

Re: How to navigate my saboteur of a boss.

  • Document.  Document.  Document. 

    "Per this meeting I will be doing x."   

    "Attached is the documentation requested.  Please note Y and Z." 

  • Is there anyone outside of your supervisor you can talk to? It’s possible you don’t have the whole story. If there isn’t I’d say get your resume in order, keep you head down, do you work, and document your contributions. Follow-up emails to confirm in person conversations. 
  • Don't walk away from your project before completion. That will only damage you and won't help your coworker in any way. Finish what you started, but start looking for another job in the meantime so you aren't stuck with this toxic supervisor any longer than needed. 

    As for your coworker, I think you should stay out of it. You don't know the whole story, and even if your coworker was truly wronged, you shouldn't act on their behalf unless they ask for your help. You may end up doing even more harm if you act without being asked.
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