Resist the urge to create a buzz around the workplace by inferring or stating undeniably that you have been wronged, even to just one other person (office gossip spreads like germs at the height of flu season). Trying to coax co-workers into your corner may backfire, particularly if those colleagues respect or genuinely admire your superior. And, tattling on the boss is reminiscent of grade school antics: conduct that will not reflect well upon you. Take the high road and do the following:
Confront your supervisor in a non-threatening manner, and in privacy. You can attempt to clear the air and arrive, in an adult manner, at a resolution.
If a civil and appropriate resolution is not possible and the sabotage continues, you should have, as a professional, already kept meticulous records of all emails, reports, presentations, spreadsheets, and other data that you have produced. In other words, compile documentation indicating that your good ideas were yours, not his. Also collect data demonstrating your superior performance, including the achievement of goals within the established timeframes, as per your supervisor’s written plans/objectives for your work. Make two copies of all of this material and remove the copies from the office, to a safe location such as your home. Keep one set of copies for yourself. With the other, you will draft a brief letter to a manager within your department or division whose authority supercedes that of your immediate supervisor.
After requesting a meeting with this manager, present your concerns. He or she will not wish to read through everything that you have compiled, and may, in fact, not want to get involved at all. The manager may suggest that you take your apprehensions directly to Human Resources. In both your letter and in your discussions with the manager and HR person, it would be wise to state that approaching HR constitutes your last resort, in that you had attempted to resolve this matter previously and directly with both your supervisor and your manager (state dates, times, and places; i.e., fourth floor conference room). State also that your work ethic is that of a fully functioning team member and that you wish to work, as you have throughout your entire career, at the highest possible level in order to bring value to the company.
HR will open a dialogue between you and your supervisor, which they will mediate. Provided you possess supporting documentation and remain calm throughout the mediation, demonstrating that you are warranted rather than vindictive, the meeting should resolve in your favor.
Understand also, that each situation is unique and that each company has its own policies and general guidelines for addressing circumstances of this nature that fall under the heading of “Office Politics.” Use your good judgment, as well as these tried and true methods, to restore peace and respect in your new work environment.
In Part Four of our series, we’ll consider social situations arising in and around the workplace.