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8 Signs You Are Being Sabotaged at Work (2023)

Do you feel like you’re being sabotaged at work? Continually being undermined, whether its co-workers or a boss who makes you feel incompetent, can even drive you to leave a job you love. From bullying to exclusion, here are eight answers to the question, “What are some concerning signs you are being sabotaged at work?”

  • Bullying
  • Not Explaining or Justifying Responsibility Changes
  • Withholding Critical Information 
  • Receiving Harsh Criticism
  • Noticing Consistent, Unrealistic Expectations
  • Other People Taking Credit for Your Work
  • Being Set Up for Failure
  • Excluding You from Meetings and Decision-making


Bullying is a form of sabotage. When you are bullied at work, your self-esteem may suffer, and you can spend so much time trying to combat the bully that you have less time to concentrate on your work. So, if you are being bullied, report it to your manager if you can, or simply ignore the bully. Their need to intimidate or criticize you speaks for them and not for you. Don’t let bullies waste your time.

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Miles Beckett, Co-Founder and CEO, Flossy

Not Explaining or Justifying Responsibility Changes

Unexplained/unjustified responsibilities shifts could involve additional duties or tasks being added to your role, or existing tasks suddenly becoming more complex than usual. It could also mean that someone else starts taking credit for the work you do or there is an attempt to increase the difficulty of completing specific tasks by changing the rules or expectations. 

If any of these things occur suddenly, it could be a sign that someone is trying to sabotage your job performance. It’s important to speak up and bring it to HR’s attention to make sure you get the support and recognition you deserve in the workplace.

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Arkadiusz Terpilowski, Head of Growth and Co-Founder, Primetric

Withholding Critical Information 

Withholding means there are some people who intentionally are not providing you with the information or resources necessary to complete your work effectively. This could include not giving access to critical files or data that is essential for a task or withholding approval or sign-off on projects, leading to delays in your work. It also can include purposely providing incorrect information or resources, leading to mistakes or wasted time and effort.

Luciano Colos, Founder and CEO, PitchGrade

Receiving Harsh Criticism

One sign you may be sabotaged at work is receiving unfavorable feedback from colleagues. If others make negative comments about your work when discussing it with you, or give criticisms uncharacteristically harsher than what we should usually expect for the situation, this could show malicious intent. 

An uncommon example of this would be if someone privately messages you on a professional platform to tell you they don’t think your recent project was up to their standards, even though most other people whose opinion matters have made positive or constructive remarks. This type of hostile comment may show sabotage meant to damage your reputation‌.

Grace He, People and Culture Director,

Noticing Consistent, Unrealistic Expectations 

If you notice that every project or task you receive seems impossible to achieve in the given timeline, something could be off. Try to be self-aware and ask yourself if you are consistently performing below par, or if these expectations of you are unrealistic. Also, closely look at the resources and materials you’re given to determine if they are enough to successfully complete the project or not.

Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed

Other People Taking Credit for Your Work

People might do this subtly, or they might be more blatant about it. You may also find yourself in situations where people are deliberately excluding you from meetings or conversations, trying to undermine your relationships with coworkers, or creating obstacles to progress on projects. 

These can all be signs of sabotage. If you think someone is trying to sabotage your work, it’s important to document everything and speak to a manager or HR representative. It’s also a good idea to reach out to trusted colleagues or mentors who may provide support.

Yusuf Shurbaji, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Prismfly

Being Set Up for Failure

This can include omitting important information, assigning excessively arduous tasks, giving unreasonable deadlines, or providing inconsistent advice. The goal is to make you fail conspicuously and embarrassingly, so they can continue criticizing you. 

This creates a vicious cycle, where your confidence is continually diminished, making you more vulnerable to malicious intent. To break this cycle, query every request you receive and voice any concerns you have early on. If you’re being set up to fail, escalate the issue to a higher authority, such as a senior manager or HR. Getting set up to fail is abusive management, and employees may defend themselves against it.

Ben Schwencke, Business Psychologist, Test Partnership

Excluding You from Meetings and Decision-making

This includes not being included in email discussions, being left out of key conversations, or having one’s input ignored during team meetings. This exclusion may show an attempt to undermine one’s efforts and a lack of trust in one’s capabilities, potentially leading to diminished motivation, decreased job satisfaction, and a feeling of being isolated from the team. 

Therefore, it is important to recognize these signs and bring them up with HR or one’s supervisor to address any underlying issues because, honestly, I strongly believe that no one should ever feel excluded at work. It’s just not right.
Shaun Connell, CEO and Founder, Learn Financial Strategy