This is happening in central Europe.

So basically I got this co-worker (let's call her Stacy) who regularly tries to undermine me. She disrupts my work, puts me in a bad light and doesn't cooperate with me at all.

Usually, she just talks about her products (in which I helped her a lot) as if she did them all alone and they were perfectly done. Which isn't the truth. She also puts all the "easy work" that she doesn't want to do on me and keeps all the bigger jobs, but at the same time complains that I don't help her enough (every time I'm done with one task I ask her for another one) and that she's way too overworked.

A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with my (our) boss to get a raise and receive overall feedback on how I am doing. He told me the amount of the raise 1 day beforehand. Just an hour before the official meeting, Stacy goes into the office of my boss and talks for half an hour with him. At the meeting with my boss he suddenly told me that my raise won't be possible and that he changed his mind. He told me Stacy was working really hard and was better than me. So my raise fell flat. (I sadly do not have evidence that Stacy talked to him about me in the discussion they had an hour before my meeting, but it is very logical (to me at least)).

Now Stacy is on vacation and blocked me out of her mail-access. I am the one who does her unfinished work when she's on vacation and the other way around. The jobs she left me are a complete mess, and I can't get any details because she blocked her mails getting through to me. My coworkers complain to me that these jobs aren't done yet and I'm still in the prep phase, because I need to collect every detail and make sense out of it. I texted Stacy over Whatsapp, she read the messages yesterday (ticks are blue) but didn't answer me. I'm furious and stressed out right now.

Should I report this to my boss/HR?

I don't know what details would help, so please comment them if you want some more.

EDIT: First of all thanks guys, your opinions helped a lot. For clarification, Stacy is not my boss, but we both have our own set of clients (4-5 clients pp). I'm not as long as Stacy in this company, so I don't have the real big jobs (except when Stacy is on vacation)

I will talk to my boss tomorrow anyway, so I will tackle this topic again. I collected as much evidence as I could and hope for the best.

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    She obviously talks to your boss about how you work together. Why are you hesitating to do the same and give your side of the story? – Roland Oct 16 at 9:48
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    I would like to see more clarification about the hierarchy here. It sounds to me that Stacy is your boss or manager, or why else is she deciding what you are working on? The boss you mention, is he not involved in the planning? If I needed info from a colleague who was on vacation I would immediately bring it up with my manager because it's their problem to solve, is this not what's expected here? – pipe Oct 16 at 11:47
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    why aren't you escalating to your boss now? what is your hesitation? – bharal Oct 16 at 12:45
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    @Konrad no, this business is medium sized. My thoughts exactly though, what manager would promise a raise and then back out of it? Seems very unprofessional in my opinion – Gunter Oct 16 at 13:29
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    Why do you do her work? Is that an expected role for you to perform at your job? – Jamie Clinton Oct 16 at 16:15

10 Answers 10

up vote 127 down vote accepted

Ask for a meeting with your boss. In the meeting say you wish to discuss why you didn't get a raise as you are unclear.

Hopefully he mentions that you are not working hard enough (the reason he gave before. That Stacy was working hard(er than you) is a reason that Stacy got a raise, not a reason you did not.

You want him to say, directly or indirectly, that you are not working hard enough or need to do more. This gives you opportunity to directly confront those accusations, and you will need to be well prepared with the details and times if possible of the work you completed.

Then you say "I have done..." and start listing details of the things you have done, starting with the largest.

If he says it was Stacy who did the work, correct him. Prove it was you. Take as much evidence as you have.

Otherwise, ask him what other work should have been completed. If he has nothing, there is no argument why you shouldn't get a raise, you did everything you were supposed to. If he starts listing things you should have done, say something along the lines of "I asked Stacy for additional work N times, and this was never mentioned to me." (Assuming all of this is accurate, of course)

Finally, start logging everything. Get work requests in writing ("It makes it easier to keep track of what i'm supposed to do") and send completion notifications the same way. Use email, or a ticketing system if you have one. If not, suggest to the boss a ticketing system will make it easier for him to have an overview of current work.

In short, make this about the raise (and thereby your work) not about Stacy. Prove what work you have done, and Stacy then cannot claim it was hers.

  • Will do hat. Huge thanks, this helped a lot. I always thought that it would be seen as "rude" to complain about coworkers. I now realized that, when somethings wrong I should talk about it. – Gunter Oct 16 at 14:08
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    @Gunter It is very risky to complain about coworkers - the whole point of this strategy is that you are very deliberately not complaining about a coworker, or anything else. You are asking for a discussion on why you did not get a raise and how you can do better. If that just happens to lead to a discussion showing that you really did all the work, well, bad for her – David Oct 16 at 14:13
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    @Gunter always prepare for being wrong. - If she didn't talk about you, and instead gave you credit for work, but you didn't get it for some other reason, this should help you look proactive to improve rather than someone trying to throw her under the bus instead – David Oct 16 at 14:17
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    of course My goal is to show him what work I did (big and small jobs) and the projects I worked on (many of them will be hers, but I got some other side projects I'd like to address) I won't even mention her, as long as my boss doesn't mention it. I can't be sure she talked negatively about me, so I won't take my chances with that one – Gunter Oct 16 at 14:36
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    Not only should the OP get work requests in writing, he/she/whatever should confirm them all in writing, and courtesy-copy every relevant boss as well on every confirmation. In fact, everybody should already be doing this; absolutely nobody tasks me without my boss knowing about it. – EvilSnack Oct 17 at 3:07

When the boss told you about "no raise", that's when you should have spoken up. Told him that a lot of "her" work is actually your work and so on and so on.

You can still make an appointment with your boss. Be well prepared. If someone tries to push you under the train, it is your duty (to yourself and to the company) to push them.

It's probably best not to but the blame on Stacy, but just mention that you have done a lot of good work that may not have been attributed to you, because you helped out Stacy a lot when she didn't know how to do things. Tell him that she often comes to you when she has problems doing her job.

And I mean that you should say "she has problems doing her job". There's no reason to be nice to her. Of course not accusing, but like "I hate to say this, because she is a very nice person, but sometimes there are things she doesn't know how to do, and then she asks me".

(Adding Chococrocs comment because it does make it a better answer: ) Be careful on how to present this: Do it in a concerned way, but not accusing her of having issues on doing her job, but asking the boss about approach when she goes to the OP asking for help, and that it happens almost every day. That way, you present yourself as a willing worker with bad publicity, instead of someone who wants retaliation with Stacy.

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    I'd be careful on how to present this: Do it in a concerned way, but not accusing her of having issues on doing her job, but asking the boss about approach when she goes to the OP asking for help, and that it happens almost every day. That way, the OP is presented as a willing worker with bad publicity, instead of someone who wants retaliation with Stacy. – Chococroc Oct 16 at 11:29

You have a toxic coworker and incompetent boss. Get out.

There are some very good answers here; however, I feel that the odds are stacked against you, and your best bet is to look for a new job.

Take this for example:

Just an hour before the official meeting, Stacy goes in the office of my boss and talks for half an hour with him. At the meeting with my Boss he suddenly told me that my raise won't be possible and that he changed his mind.

Since Stacy had no way of knowing that you were asking about the raise, it looks like your boss wanted to run this by Stacy, which is complete incompetence on their part, and Stacy is running the whole show.

I have been in a situation, where weak/incompetent manager relied on their favorite dev for everything, and I only regret not getting out earlier.

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    'it looks like you boss wanted to run this by Stacy' - I like that this answer points out that the boss could be in Stacy's pocket. If it is true, it is very important for deciding the next steps. – Boris van Katwijk Oct 17 at 9:16
  • It's unfortunate that I had to read through two other answers before I saw this, quite obvious, statement made. – DonBoitnott Oct 17 at 11:45
  • 100% time to go – Strader Oct 17 at 17:23

While the other answers adequately touch on the matters regarding your raise, I'd like to address some other concerns you raised.

She's obviously playing the office politics game. And at the moment she's taken the lead.

Usually she just talks about her products (in which I helped her a lot) as if she did them all alone and they were perfectly done. Which isn't the truth. She also puts all the "easy work" that she doesn't want to do on me and keeps all the bigger jobs, but at the same time complains that I help way too less (everytime I'm done with one task I ask her for another one) and that she's way to overworked.

I'd strongly suggest trying to get some of the bigger jobs yourself, to get more visibility with your boss, and his superiors. One way to do this might be to stop taking her lead, and go to your boss directly, indicating you'd like some bigger projects to work on.

As others said, document everything you can, you ask her for more tasks, do it via email / some ticketing system. If she mentions being overworked, send her an email saying hey I heard you're bit overworked, I'd be glad to help out with 'some bigger project you'd like to work on'. If she does not reply, or keeps giving you the smaller stuff, go to your boss, saying you realized she's overworked but trying to do it all herself. That you tried asking her to divert some things to you but she didn't want to.

Now Stacy is on vacation and blocked me out of her mail-access. I am the one who does her unfinished work when she's on vacation and the other way around. The jobs she left me are a complete mess, and I can't get any details because she blocked her mails getting through to me. My coworkers complain to me that these jobs aren't done yet and I'm still in the prep phase, because I need to collect every detail and make sense out of it. I texted Stacy over Whatsapp, she read the messages yesterday (ticks are blue) but didn't answer me. I'm furious and stressed out right now.

If you can't take care of her running business while she's away, because she blocked access to information you need, you should make sure every person concerned knows about this.

How far you want to go in this is up to you, but here's some options

Alert your boss

let your boss know what is happening, because sooner or later, complaints will reach him about your 'bad' handling of the ongoing tasks while she was away.

I'd personally send him a quick email, mentioning you are responsible for taking over her ongoing tasks but can't. You might add that she deliberately blocked your access, or not, depends on how far you want to take it. How many hints you drop regarding the messy state of her ongoing tasks, is up to you.

By doing this, you ensure your boss at least knows why you can't do the things in due time. Depending on your technical setup he might also be able to get your IT department to grant you access anyway.

Alert your colleagues

Again how you do this is up to you, but I'd suggest trying not to be confrontational about it. Something like this should suffice.

There seems to be a mix-up between Stacy and me and I can't seem to access her mailbox to get more information on the matter at hand. Do you mind briefly walking me through it?

That way, you don't really put the blame on her (nor on you) but your colleague is in the loop on the situation.

You could go a lot more confrontational as well, saying that she seems to have blocked your access, but I do not advise doing so.

Things to do when she's back

Plan a meeting with her, to discuss the 'mishap' that occurred. We both know it's not a mishap, but if you word it like this, she still gets a way out without loosing face.

The advantage of not being confrontational is that it is a lot harder for her to shift blame. You're not pointing fingers, so if she starts doing it in response, you've got the moral high ground.

That's when I'd start pointing fingers though. Than you can start actually saying what you said here in the question, how she blocked you etc... How she is overworked but does not want to give you any of the bigger things on her plate...

You need to be careful. She might be trying to set you up as this place falls apart without her.

With out criticizing her directly provide your boss with a report on where you are on her tasks. Make it clear which you cannot complete because you lack proper information.

In general you should document your tasks and identify the tasks from Stacy.

Many comments here are good: document everything, "cover your ass" on everything, have everything in writing, also your proposals to take over more tasks.

This is the only thing you can do if you want to stay there.

The problem is, the position of your colleague seems to be very strong. She talked to your boss for 30 minutes and he decided to withdraw the pay raise he had promised. This means, you can do everything right and still win nothing. Facts are convincing to people who are rational, he doesn't seem to be so.

So get out quickly.

  • „Facts are convincing to people who are rational, he doesn't seem to be so.“ — well we don't really know because the ”facts” he knows seem to be mainly coming just from Stacey so far. – BlackJack Oct 17 at 15:34

EDIT: First of all thanks guys, your opinions helped a lot. For clarification, Stacy is not my boss, but we both have our own set of clients (4-5 clients pp).

Focus on your clients. Focus on your work. Do as good of a job as you can on all the projects that have nothing to do with her.
You're going to be in a much better position with your boss once you can show that the work you do has a high quality when Stacy is not involved.

Also as others have said document everything you can. Try to only communicate via office email. Give your part of the work to her via office email, maybe even CC your boss on big parts that are done especially well.

You have a few choices from what I can see.

Complain to to your boss about how she's not giving you enough work but then she's complaining that she doesn't have enough help. Start keeping email evidence and a log of all the work that you've completed with timestamps so you can argue that you've done X amount of work here and asked for more at X time.

If you want to just do it passively, you can CC your boss into an email when you ask for work so that your boss can see that you've been asking for work, and when she replies (or doesn't) your boss will know and see that you've been actively seeking to assist.

One thing I would 100% avoid doing is accusing her of negating your raise. You can't prove this, you just assumed based off the chat before the meeting. If you raise it to HR you need hard evidence against her, emails, work logs etc.

All the answers her so far are really good ones and I have to copy. I'll focus only on your last paragraph before the edit.

Ask yourself a question: Do you like the job that much you want to fight your position there? Do you think it is worth your time and nerves? In CE there is a sighnificant lack of workforce and critical lack of "able" workforce.

If you still want to stay there go visit your boss ASAP.

  • Bring all the "documentation" she left you to you.
  • Bring all the mails and messags clients sent to you complaining on the work undone.
  • Bring all the mails you wrote to Stacy and prove they were not answered.
  • Print the WhatsApp chat log between you and Stacy.

All the points are to back you up that:

  1. You are not the bottleneck.
  2. You have tried to push the work done but were actively sabotaged.
  3. You deserved the promised payrise.

You can also raise the issue to the HR stating that:

  • You are blamed for other's misconducts and mistakes.
  • You are bypassed from informations critical for your actual work.
  • This office-politics issue is not affecting only you, but the whole image of the company.
  • Your planned payrise was cancelled one day after it was discussed.

If it doesn't work, update your linked-in profile, send your ciricula, pack your things, file all mandatory data, clear the computer deeply (format, rewite, format) and say good-bye to your not-yet-former colleagues, that are worth it.

Tell your boss what's happening. Document everything. Find a new job. Quit your own job. Spit some hot fire on your resignation letter explaining that you left because Stacy is trash at her job and has consistently sabotaged your success to make herself look better at every turn. Suggest that she'll do the same to her new partner.

If all goes well you should get rehired at market rate - probably earning you a pay raise - relatively soon. If not, you have a new job, have successfully made it out of a toxic work environment, and very likely given yourself a pay raise anyway.

Your career, paycheck, and mental is what's on the line here. You are not your company. You don't owe them anything. In fact, they pay you so that you're both even. You need to handle this like Stacy is trying to stop you from eating because she is.

  • My company itself is very pleasant to work for though, the only thing that bugged me in the 3 1/2 years I've worked there is Stacy, and she starte being like this just a few months ago. I'd rather deal with a small problem like her than to start a new job – Gunter Oct 16 at 14:38
  • @Gunter: why did she start being like this a few months ago? Is she like this only to you, or to other cooworkers? (it's easier to document her behavior if the latter) – smci Oct 16 at 20:41
  • @smci People in our department noticed that she behaved differently since a few months. Nothing particularly bad, just a bit annoying. But to me she started to be really negative, I don't know why though, can't think of anything that might've upset her – Gunter Oct 17 at 6:13
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    It may have gone way too far now, but did you try scheduling time to talk to her privately to find out what got into her mind since then, and clear the air? Did she for some reason think you were a threat or something? Did someone else badmouth you to her? (You will still need to to go talk to your boss, and document what's been happening. And ultimately, since your boss doesn't sound very trustworthy or capable, you might end up deciding to leave. But either way, helpful to decode what went on, to avoid such things in future.) – smci Oct 17 at 7:03
  • 'Spit some hot fire on your resignation letter' - You don't gain anything by doing this, you are only burning bridges. – Boris van Katwijk Oct 17 at 9:12

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