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Colleague putting blame on me...


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Old 20th August 2016, 9:38 PM   #1
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Colleague putting blame on me...

I've been having a few personality clashes with a colleague and just hoping for some advice here. Basically she's a nice-ish person but I don't quite trust her as she doesn't accept responsibility for things. Last week she broke a piece of equipment (one we'd all used for months and not broken) and didn't say 'I'm really sorry I broke that'. She just said 'We shouldn't bother with this any more. It's obviously a faulty piece of equipment'. This isn't the only incident though.

I know for a fact she talks about me behind my back with the boss because the boss told me. I'm really a bit concerned about what's going on. She'll be a bit overbearing and try to speak on my behalf and make it sound like I'm incompetent to the boss. She'll say "thecrucible was talking about x". I then have to jump in and say "Look I don't need help with that. I know how to do my job". There are comments I've made in passing just about general frustrations of the job. I handle these frustrations really well but she rephrases this to the boss as if it's something that is actually problematic for me.

We had an event near my workplace last week. It was a community fair and I had arrived at work early, much earlier than my colleague. There were a few stallholders nearby and some from the ambulance crew said they were bursting for the toilet and "can we use yours?". This was about half an hour before official opening of our building but I obliged in order to be helpful and to have good rapport with surrounding charities at the event. My colleague went and told on me to the boss, again making me sound incompetent. It was only later on after I spoke to my boss that my boss realised it was charity reps I allowed to use the toilet, not just random people.

At work this morning, I just left in the middle of a conversation between boss, me and colleague because I felt ganged up on. Colleague was trying to score points with the boss and butting in, not mentioning mistakes she had made herself. After a few minutes I just said "I can't deal with this anymore. I'm off" and then I went to the loo for 5 minutes to compose myself.

Anyway, just wondering if anyone has any advice for this kind of situation?
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Old 20th August 2016, 9:43 PM   #2
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You said your boss is aware of it. Now you need to make sure your boss understands that this person is interfering with your work and then trying to make it sound like she's actually doing something and taking every opportunity to run to the boss about you for no reason you can fathom. Make sure the boss knows that she, not you, is causing friction by making mountains out of molehills and that you want it to stop.
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Old 20th August 2016, 11:09 PM   #3
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You said your boss is aware of it. Now you need to make sure your boss understands that this person is interfering with your work and then trying to make it sound like she's actually doing something and taking every opportunity to run to the boss about you for no reason you can fathom. Make sure the boss knows that she, not you, is causing friction by making mountains out of molehills and that you want it to stop.
Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it. I will try this approach. I think I am feeling a little bit better now I am back home from work.

It's concerning me because I am trying to get on to have an easy life but it's like she's overpowering me.

To be fair to her, it's not as if she doesn't do anything. It's the fact that she's apt not to admit to doing anything wrong but will bring up stuff that I may have made mistakes with during staff meetings (all of these are minor things but also mistakes she has made but she conveniently leaves out her own examples). If something concerns her, she wouldn't say anything at the time, just say something disapproving behind my back after the fact. I mentioned to my boss that we had a particularly hectic week but I did an extra 15 minutes a couple of days just to wrap things up. The boss said I really shouldn't do that (we don't get paid overtime). My colleague failed to mention that she had also stayed late after a shift for a few days. Another instance was when I had a task I had to concentrate on but I was forced to do it at the same time as reception duties due to being understaffed. We have a short crossover hour but there is always lots to do. So we agreed to free up more time during this crossover hour. Again my colleague failed to mention she had done the same as me and made it sound like she knew better.

I'm not into these kind of games so I have not told the boss certain errors she has made because I don't think it is my place to do so. I just feel like she is thinking of herself a lot. I don't need her to be like that - we do the same job on different shifts. I sometimes feel she isn't a team player because she's very secretive about stuff like event planning. You won't find out things because she wants to keep it all to herself so she can take all the credit. We had a kids' fun day earlier in the year which had been her suggestion and in the run up I kept saying I'm there to assist and I'm not sure what's going on. In the end I felt disregarded. She has organised work night outs and invited me out to certain events but it's felt weird to me - like she is only inviting me because she has no one to go with or because it's something she wants to go to. If I suggest something myself, she is not interested at all. I'm reluctant to say too much to her and keep our interactions really bland as I really don't want it to be used against me.
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Old 21st August 2016, 12:22 AM   #4
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Well, you should mention to your boss that she is monitoring you as if she is your manager and reporting things to the boss that you would never dream of reporting on her or anyone else because it's not your job, and that you just feel it's interfering with your work and infringing on your territory.

She's a work bully. Nip it asap.
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Old 21st August 2016, 4:56 AM   #5
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Yep she is a bully.

Your boss has given you an 'in' here by letting you know Miss B (Bully) talks about you behind your back.
The incident with the toilets wil have highlighted to your boss that yep - you let some folk in to use a toilet but that a major part of the information was deliberately not mentioned by miss B that it was to all intents and purposes for 'members of staff'.

I actually think you did a good thing when you ended up walkng away saying you couldn't deal with this anymore over that event.

What you boss needs is you to speak up though. There will only be certain bits and pieces like the toilets for instance where the boss ends up finding out the truth.
If you are able to I would begin by talking up opportunities for liaising with you boss over things a little bit more.

Something similar was happening to me with one of the Managers at work. I only became aware of it when our boss (we both report directly to the same guy) let it slip about something it's part of my job to ask her to do which she had done wrong due to a bit of info she said I had bot told her.
He didn't blame me though for this - I can't even quite describe this conversation but he was almost smiling at me and he knew full well that the first person to realise the impact of the error was me. The impact was a huge one btw.
The issue was easily solved by my own Miss B so the boss asked me to get her to amend the mistake. I went over to ask her. Her response to me was that she didn't have access rights to the system high enough to make the change.
I accepted her answer then my next step would usually be to go straight to the database bods and ask them to amend it but I didn't do that this time. Instead I went to ask them what access rights were needed to do xyz, how to amend the error and then went to my boss and told him that Miss B told me she didn't have access rights but that if he would request and approve me to have the rights then I would amend it.
He immediately put the request in and half an hour later I had access, amended the error and let him know it was done.
I went to walk away from his desk and he called out to me saying that I now had the same level of access that Miss B has always had, he thanked me for making the amendment but also added that Miss B makes this exact amendment on a regular basis. He said he was grateful I had found out how to do it myself. Then he said it was clear that she wanted to blame me for it and then wanted to make my life more difficult by not just fixing it.

It's now been a few years since this happened but big and little things here and there have happened along the way so much so that my boss will sometimes say 'Would you go and soeak to Miss b and ask her xyz... but he rethinks, stops himself and literally says to me - no - ignore that, I'll ask her myself as it'll be quicker - she will only give you a BS answer anyway' so don't worry, I'll sort it.

Still she tries to lay blame on me for things but these days she tends to wait until the boss is out of the office to do so. I act the dumb blonde and keep great mail trails - any time she acts up with me she gets the mail trail where the boss asked me to do whatever it was and I copy him in too.
he knows precisely why I do it and has absolutely no problems with me handling it that way.

I am a bit like you and didn't speak up very much - until I realised my boss was wanting me to - but he needed me to DO something and get the result that he had basically predicted!
One thing to do is to write down these little things that happen - but also just chat with your boss more - the boss will suss it without you feeling like you are blaming Miss B.
Myself and my boss now often have a few laughs about the attempts from Miss B to flame or blame me. He knows. Your boss knows too - she just needs a bit of help from you.
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Old 21st August 2016, 6:29 AM   #6
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Be very guarded about what you say to this person. Don't give her any tit-bits she can twist, stick to football, horse racing, any sport.

A disturbing way to have to be with a colleague but she has issues and an agenda.

A poster on LS has a useful signature that goes something like this:

"If they keep stabbing you in the back, then quit handing them the knife"
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Old 21st August 2016, 11:30 AM   #7
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A good manager would see right through this bull****. I would have a hard time working in a place where a supervisor allowed this to continue without end. Maybe look for a better employer if one can be found.
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Old 21st August 2016, 11:54 AM   #8
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How long have you worked here? How long has the problematic colleague worked here?

As long as you allow yourself to be a doormat, she is going to continue to wipe her feet on you. Asserting yourself as you did when you said you didn't need help with X task bc you know how to do your job was a good move. I understand you were frustration with the gang up, but in the future, you should stand your ground. I think stating you can't deal with this and walking off to compose yourself actually gives credence to her point about your inability to handle situations. When she throws you under the bus pointing out mistakes, show them you have a backbone and toss it right back, otherwise, you'll look weak and incompetent.
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Old 21st August 2016, 12:16 PM   #9
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A good manager would see right through this bull****. I would have a hard time working in a place where a supervisor allowed this to continue without end. Maybe look for a better employer if one can be found.
The only times I've been in this situation is when one of the male bosses (or more) was being sucked up to, flattered and flirted with by the bully female. And I literally lost a decade-long job because of one, so it's no small thing. They trounce on everyone they want to climb over and lie and then cry to the boss they're working like a pro. So he's lucky this boss is onto it, but have to keep an eye out for her grooming someone up above him who might insulate her.
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Old 21st August 2016, 1:57 PM   #10
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The only times I've been in this situation is when one of the male bosses (or more) was being sucked up to, flattered and flirted with by the bully female. And I literally lost a decade-long job because of one, so it's no small thing. They trounce on everyone they want to climb over and lie and then cry to the boss they're working like a pro. So he's lucky this boss is onto it, but have to keep an eye out for her grooming someone up above him who might insulate her.
Some might advise "standing up for yourself" but I've often found that doing so ultimately means standing on your own. It's really an indication of managerial and administrative skill as to whether or not something like this gets nipped at the bud or continues to fester until it consumes everyone involved.

When I was younger I used to assume that managers or supervisors would ultimately see what I saw, because they were presumably competent and intelligent people. I've come to realize that managers are often not good at their jobs. They might have been good at jobs prior to their becoming managers. They might have been so good that they impressed others who assumed that because they could function in one area they could function in another.

Unfortunately, many times managers are just not cut out for the job. They may know how to sell or crunch numbers but they don't know how to lead. That's why situations like workplace bullying fester. They're afraid to make personnel decisions. They're also afraid that people under them will challenge their authority, so they become sensitive to their own perceived weaknesses and they become even more sensitive when someone points them out.

That's why I'm pretty skeptical when administration or HR says "We have an open door policy." Calling a supervisor's attention to a problem is often taken the wrong way. "What? Are you saying that we have a problem?! Are you saying that I'm too stupid to know how to deal with this?!"

At minimum, the supervisor ought to at least see what's going on and do something about it. It's not the OP's obligation to stick up for herself; it's the manager's responsibility to know workplace cancers and put them in their place immediately. If they can't do that, find another workplace, OP. Use your time that you're employed there to network and find other places, or maybe other opportunities in the company but different department, division, or office if you like the company.
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Old 21st August 2016, 6:58 PM   #11
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In my case, I was the first of several people to complain about her and then I was the one blamed for the others, some of whom I didn't even work with. It was just because the married VP enjoyed the attention.

But I had to act because she was straight-up sabotaging my work. I was told to give her a certain task and she wouldn't do it and instead would say I never gave it to her, but others knew I did because they were there in the room when I did. Didn't matter because she was this guys Monica Lewinski or whatever.
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Old 9th September 2016, 6:33 AM   #12
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Just to clarify, I am a woman and work in an office with a small staff of 3 - 2 other women.

I see what you are saying about standing up for myself. It's hard for me to do it to the right extent without seeming uncooperative but I stood up for myself yesterday by clearly coming back and explaining my stance on something (I'll explain more if necessary). I was also doing something yesterday, had completed the task and colleague said "would you like me to complete (said part of this task) so you can get on to the next thing?". I'd actually already done it, she just wasn't paying attention so I said "No no I've just done it".

I was feeling a bit fed up yesterday and the day before as I'd just come back from a week's holiday and everything still seemed a bit hectic at work. I don't want to look fed up though. Because it's a small team, I don't want to isolate myself. But I've realised that I've given too much effort to get on with the colleague. I think I will just do my best to demonstrate my competency more than anything else. As I said before, she can make a lot of things an issue that I don't think are important to my job. She has a habit of trying to get me to do things when she thinks I should do them, I just tell her I'm doing them when I want to or I say "I'm doing x task now" because she is not my boss. I set my own priorities and do things as I see fit.

That day I mentioned in my originally post, I just felt ganged up on as I'd literally just walked in the door (hadn't even taken my coat off) and I was in the middle of some meeting discussing what our priorities were for the next few weeks. What annoyed about this meeting is that she never pipes up to say she did something wrong, she will mention something I have done wrong when she has actually done the exact same thing and she acts as if she has come up with some idea to improve things when she has been doing the exact same thing. Because she has a habit of not listening properly, if I mention a task to her to do (for us to spread workload), I will tell my boss straight away that I have done that - for instance "I'm focusing on getting xyz done but I've mentioned other task to [colleague] to get on with". It happened once where she'd agreed to do something but somehow forget and claimed she didn't realise to do this thing (but this goes back to me and makes me look incompetent even though I clearly said to her).

I think I need to keep cards close to my chest as it's easy to let go and let out a few frustrations. I don't get personal about frustrations but I want to try and come across like I'm so competent that I'm just doing my job and not letting these things distract me. But I want to keep things friendly enough with people at work and not like I am some lone worker.
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