Founder and CEO Aha! — world’s #1 product roadmap software
I know all about nasty offices because I have worked in a few of them. I consider myself fairly tough, but I have been bullied in a parking lot by a colleague and even threatened by another when I received a choice assignment after a promotion.
Christine Porath and Christine Pearson have been researching bad behavior in the workplace for over a decade. In a Harvard Business Review article, they write that 98% of workers report experiencing uncivil behavior, and about half say they are on the receiving end of rudeness at least once a week.
As the CEO of Aha! (visual roadmap software for product managers), I vowed to build a company based on accomplishment and respect. So, I have been thinking a lot about what we should do as we rapidly grow the team to leave no space for treachery.
If you are unlucky enough to work in a dog-eat-dog organization, how good are your survival skills? Are you beaten down or silently planning your next ambush?
Aggressive workplaces abound, but you can be humane and still succeed if you know what to look for and the signs that you will shortly be under attack. So, do you know what the one sign is your co-worker is going to stab you in the back?
The one sign to listen for that your co-worker is on a warpath is when he says “You do it.”
When your co-worker says “You do it,” he is doing more than just pushing off work. Alarm bells should go off in your head for the following reasons:
Pretend you are in a team meeting, discussing the moving parts of a new project. Team members who are peers usually talk about how work will be divided. Peers ask and suggest, but do not dictate. As soon as you hear “you,” you know that your co-worker has given up on collaboration and is now creating separation.
“You do it” is usually said in anger. If she is a peer, she should be bouncing ideas off you, asking and suggesting, and offering help, not giving orders. When a co-worker starts thinking “me” vs “you”, she has moved from shoulder-to-shoulder into a metaphorical face-to-face (fighting) position.
When you hear these magic words, it means that you are left to get it done, by yourself. There is no safety net and and if you do go down in flames, it’s going to be a high-profile crash that makes the office gossip frontpage. And your co-worker is likely to be gleefully spreading the news.
I apologize if this post strikes close to home. Perhaps this scene plays out daily at your job, or worse, you find yourself as the one saying “You do it.” But it’s worth thinking about your current company, and if it’s draining the life out of you. There shall be no tolerance for acts of malice.
Learn to see your colleagues for who they are. The good, the meh, and the back stabbers.
So what do you do when you find feral behavior at work? Trust first but watch and listen closely. Be transparent in what you do and your interactions and expect the same. Talk to an advisor if you are being mistreated and escape if you need to. You should always work towards a company that has a more collaborative, supportive culture.
How do you know when a colleague is about to whack you?