One of the best perks of working in an office is forming friendships with coworkers. For many, your good friends will be people you met at work, but that doesn’t mean that all of your coworkers will be your friends. Although some of them might be your true friends, others might only be pretending to be your friend while hiding their real agenda. A coworker might even be trying to undermine you, in an effort to ultimately get your job.
Below are eight red flags that someone at work might be trying to steal your job, and what you can do about it:
Coworker offers to help you with your work, and does an A+ job
Do you have a coworker who is suspiciously helpful – always asking to help you with your extra work? Do they go above-and-beyond the task they’re helping with, despite it not even being their job? Not only do they try to do a better job than you, but they make it clear to your boss that they’ve helped you. They’ve now succeeded in making it look like you can’t handle your own workload, and they’ve made it appear as though they can do it better than you can.
Solution: Be weary of unsolicited help, or overly-helpful coworkers who are way too enthusiastic. If you need help, you’re safer to ask a coworker you trust. Remember that a trustworthy coworker won’t tell anyone that they helped you.
Colleague takes credit for your work
If a coworker steals one of your ideas and plays dumb about it (pretending they don’t remember you having that idea) or a coworker takes credit for your work, that’s a big red flag. It means they want to be seen as the star, so that you’re left in the dust. Maybe they want to be noticed, so that they can get your job.
Solution: Ask to speak with your manager in private and make it clear that the work was completed by you, or that the idea was all yours. Show them evidence. Be professional and unemotional. Take the credit back. Now, the tables will be turned and your coworker will be questioned about why they are attempting to steal credit.
Coworker is suddenly acting like your office BFF
If a colleague is suddenly taking a great interest in you, and wanting to go for lunch or after-work drinks with you, suddenly acting like your bestie – there could be a hidden agenda at play. Are they asking you detailed questions about your job, how much money you make, what a day in the life looks like for your role, or asking about your strategies for certain big tasks? If they’re trying to get close to you to get information, hopefully you can see through that.
Solution: Pay attention to the types of questions your “new BFF” asks you. If it’s a lot of detailed questions about your job, answer without giving much detail. Don’t give them information, but still be polite. You can also notice if they’re being overly nice, and notice any behavior that seems fake.
Coworker finds a new way of doing your tasks that is more efficient
If a coworker is finding new-and-improved ways of doing your tasks, or coming up with great ideas that relate to your position and telling your manager about it, they might be trying to get your job by undermining you.
Solution: Stop letting them help you.
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Colleague broadcasts your faults~root~>
A coworker who is not out to get you will talk you up and mention your good qualities. A coworker who is trying to bring you down will broadcast your faults. They’ll tell managers what you’re doing wrong, and what you could be doing better.
Solution: Request a meeting with HR and the coworker. Explain the sabotaging behaviors the coworker is attempting, and keep your tone serious and professional.
Coworker oversteps their rank
If your coworker is telling other coworkers to report to them instead of you on a project you’re leading (one they’re only helping on) they’re trying to pull rank. They might be trying to position themselves as superior to you.
Solution: Send an e-mail that copies your boss and all coworkers working on the project, stating that you’re the one to report to. When people see that your boss is cc’d, they’ll believe that you’re the one who is really in charge.
Colleague plants seeds of doubt regarding your job
Is a coworker trying to make you think that your job isn’t all that great? Are they talking about how other employers offer way better benefits, flex hours, and other perks that your company doesn’t offer? They may be trying to plant a seed so that you decide that you should quit your job. Guess who will swoop right in to fill your place?
Solution: If you like your job, don’t let other people’s words or opinions sway you. Recognize that sometimes, people have a hidden agenda, and you may be getting manipulated.
Coworker is vocal about being envious of your position
If you hear from other coworkers that this person is vocalizing their envy over your position at the company, this is a red flag. If they’re even telling you directly that they think you’re lucky to be in your position, pay attention to this. If they wish they had your job, they might take the next step: trying to get it.
Solution: Address their envy. Explain that there are plenty of opportunities to move up in the company, and that there’s no point being envious of your role when an even better role might open up that they could go for.
Bonus tip: If you think someone is trying to undermine you, sabotage you or steal your job – keep all evidence. Take notes, keep related emails, and have it ready in case you need to present your case to a manager or HR. Always protect yourself, and always protect your job.