my coworkers deleted my part of a report

A reader writes:

I work alongside two other women in my department (Rachel and Monica) and report to the department director. They are very close, so I didn’t expect to instantly be the third Musketeer when I started last year. Not wanting to force anything, I just made an effort to be friendly (aka, myself, but not quite Phoebe) and work independently. Since then, I keep my distance as I’ve noticed some Mean Girls behavior from them. Regardless, we work well together, they invite me to lunch now and then, etc.

But recently, the director (my boss) asked for a report on the department’s annual activities. We all contribute pieces based on our different duties, and then Rachel compiles the final version. Not long after, the director came to me to ask why my section was missing. Since I’ve started almost a year ago, I’ve been tracking certain things at my boss’s urging – any events I attend, special projects, etc. I included it in my portion of the report that I forwarded to Rachel, like I have previously, assuming it would be added in its entirety. Well, lo and behold, it wasn’t in the final report, and I couldn’t edit the document myself. I went to Rachel to ask if I could forward her the information, figuring it was just an oversight. She instantly looked annoyed/defensive, and said that she and Monica decided to just delete it because, in her words, it makes the two of them look like they don’t do anything. However, they included everything they’ve both worked on.

Then, after Rachel added the section in question, Monica emailed me (with my boss cc’d) to ask if I could shorten my part in the future. She claimed it was because the reports aren’t really read by anyone except us and it gets lengthy, but earlier that day I overheard her and Rachel talk about how it made them look bad, so I have a feeling that’s the real reason.

I feel this was an intentional and passive-aggressive move, especially since they decided to delete it without telling me. And Monica’s feedback was only prompted by the fact that I found out it was missing in the first place – neither said a word to me about it prior to finishing the report. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t against the context of how they treat other people. I’ll continue to keep track of my stuff like usual, but I’m not sure what to do about this moving forward. I don’t feel the need to bring it to my boss, but would appreciate any advice you have on how to prevent this happening again. Do I send my portion separately to my boss and ask for a separate meeting? Do I just let this go, or should I address it with them? Am I right to be frustrated?

Whoa, your coworkers are Not To Be Trusted.

They just deleted your entire contribution? And thought that would be okay?

Honestly, I do think you need to talk to your boss about this — in part because Rachel and Monica may try similarly crappy things in the future in different contexts, and she needs to know what’s going on so that she’s more likely to spot it if they do. There’s an integrity issue here, and it’s going to put you at a disadvantage if your boss doesn’t know about it.

So I’d talk to your manager in person and say this: “I feel awkward about bringing this up, but I wanted to let you know that Rachel told me that she and Monica deliberately decided not to include my contribution in the report because they thought it made them look comparatively bad. Now that they’ve added my section back in, I’m perfectly happy to let this go and move on, and I’m not asking you to do anything here— but I thought I should let you know about it in case anything similar comes up in the future.”

Beyond that, you should also make sure that you’re keeping your boss up-to-date about your work in other ways. That doesn’t mean that you should send your portion of this report to her separately next time, since that would be circumventing the process she’s set up (unless she asks you to do it differently) and it’s unlikely that Rachel and Monica will repeat the exact same thing they just got called out on. But this is an annual report and you should be keeping her informed about your work throughout the year, not just annually. If you don’t currently have a system for updating her on what you’re working on, create one so that you can start proactively letting her know what you’re achieving, what goals are coming up, etc. That’s smart to do anyway, and it’s especially smart when you’re working with people who actively want to suppress that information.

Whether or not to say something to Rachel and Monica themselves depends on your sense of where things stand now. If it’s clear they got the message and it feels like revisiting it will make the situation worse, then saying something to your boss might be enough. But otherwise, yeah, I’d go back to them and say, “Hey, I want to make sure we’re on the same page about what happened here. If you want me to change something I submit, come talk to me about it — but I don’t want you to just delete my work or significantly change it without telling me. Can that be our agreement moving forward?”

And then treat these two with a great deal of skepticism from now on. Double-check things they tell you, don’t rely on them to pass along important information to you or from you, and otherwise don’t assume that they’re acting in your best interests — they’re clearly not.

{ 183 comments… read them below }

  1. Amy G. Golly*

    Wow. I will never stop being surprised at how clueless people can be! Imagine having the self-awareness to recognize that the amount of work another coworker does is making you look bad by comparison, the audacity to try to remedy the situation by sabotaging the productive coworker, and then the brazenness to just admit that’s exactly what you did when you get called out on it. I repeat: WOW.

    1. Bee Eye LL*

      Used to happen to me at a tech support job. I’d often have work orders assigned to me where I’d call the client and they would not be available. One guy in the office like to wait until people were at lunch or doing work in the field and then go behind their back and try to contact those clients, then fix the issue and make a big deal like he did it “for me”. People can be so self centered – I only hope the boss realizes what’s actually going on. In my case, they did not care, and I don’t work at that place any more.

    2. Kate M*

      And to do it in a way that’s so noticeable. Like, if they actually wanted to do something that might work, edit down OP’s portion to make it seem like she did less. The boss might not have noticed then. But to completely take out her section…what did they think the boss was going to say? OP’s section isn’t here, therefore she must not have done any work this year?

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        I assumed they were going to play it off like OP didn’t give them anything to include – like she hadn’t bothered to do her portion of the report.

        But this whole thing is bat poo crazy so….

        1. BeautifulVoid*

          And then what, assume that the boss would just think “huh, OP didn’t do this report, I guess she just sucks and I will never speak to her about this, ever”? The logic is not strong with these two.

        2. TempestuousTeapot*

          Smart, intelligent behavior does not work with these types. Similar to this, I had a two-person clique fest pull one during my Masters program, only they took my work and split it between them, trying to claim I did not participate. Too bad for them the instructor had all of our email communications pulled and verified that I had not only completed my work, but submitted it to the group first. What, I wasn’t going to give them what for over that stunt and alert the instructor? Honestly, some people just don’t think beyond their own immediate ends…

      2. Callielee*

        Exactly. If you’re going to be sneaky and back-stabbing, at least be a little subtle and covert!! I mean come on! You should only act like a bitch if you’re good at it. Otherwise, I’m just doubly pissed.

      3. Kira*

        Maybe they thought of it as “our report” and convinced themselves that OP should submit her information herself?

    3. Non-Prophet*

      Yes! My cousin just shared a remarkably similar story on Facebook. Except that it was about her three-year old son, trying to sabotage his infant brother. The three-year old admitted his shenanigans thirty seconds later, and then gave a really stupid reason for why he tried to sabotage his brother…it’s gross that these coworkers are being so childish.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        I used to think I was so clever as a kid when I tried to get out of things – I figured my parents were just super smart or lucky or whatever that they usually caught me. In hindsight, I suspect that I wasn’t nearly as clever as I thought.

      2. NW Mossy*

        I too had a similar thing happen to me. When I was in 4th grade, with actual mean girls, as opposed to grown women. *rolls eyes*

        1. Purple Dragon*

          It’s like a really bad soap opera. My mind is on WTF overload.

          Thanks so much for sharing Finman.

        2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          I remember reading about this when the lawyers were arrested – craziness! I love this story-style telling of it. People are nuts!

        3. Tempest*

          Wow, thanks for sharing that! It was very scary but an enjoyable read. In this day and age that they came so close to framing her is unreal.

    4. Sadsack*

      Yes, as if the boss wouldn’t notice. Or he would notice and think, gee, I guess Not Phoebe just didn’t do any work this year.

  2. Murphy*

    I totally agree with Allison. This is definitely a talk to your boss about it matter. Not necessarily to make a big deal out of it, but to make her aware for when something like this happens again.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Right? In addition to not being very productive, I think the coworkers may not be very smart.

      The smart, sneaky coworker would blame this on Microsoft: “Huh. I added your part to the file. It must not have saved back to SharePoint properly when I made the edit. Wow, that’s really weird.”

      1. Temperance*

        I honestly think a truly smart and sneaky coworker would have just deleted selectively, because Big Boss was going to notice when an entire section was missing.

      2. Critter*

        I thought it would go the way of “she denied it, so I have no means of proving that it was on purpose”.

    2. Edith*

      She admitted it because in her mind Phoebe was in the wrong. “She’s trying to make us look bad.” She sees her actions as defense against OP’s offense of trying to make them look bad. Obviously that perspective is complete BS, but that’s probably how Rachel and Monica have decided to view the situation.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      What she totally fails to understand is that this is what the boss requested. It was not her call to remove it , at all. I don’t think it was gall that allowed her to admit it, it’s her belief that she knows better than the boss does. The boss needs to have a chat with this employee.

      While I agree with Alison’s CYA here, OP, I think that these two women have issues with the boss’ authority over them. I am saying this to try to encourage you that this may not be personal, but rather, you just happened to be handy. Definitely talk to your boss, do not let this go unchecked.

      1. Average Joe*

        Definitely, especially if there is any chance that one of these two could end up as your boss someday. If they get promoted to boss and do this and then fire the OP for underperforming, OP would have less of a leg to stand on. But if it was in HR’s files that they were trying to make it look like she did less work, her personal record of work could take precedence over the “official” documents that got her fired. And “official” because there would be a history of them doctoring documentation for work completed by the OP.

  3. KR*

    You seem to have a good attitude about this which is awesome. Keep an eye on these two. They are definitely Mean Girls.

  4. Jaguar*

    It sounds like you’re at least friendly with them, OP (you go to lunch with them, as you say). You should really consider confronting them (individually, preferably) and ask them if they’re upset with you or don’t like working with you. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it tends to cut right through the bullshit of passive-aggressive behaviour (and this incident goes well beyond passive-aggressive), and they’ll either say no or (less likely) let you know, and then it’s at least in the open and you can decide how to handle it. If they say no and they do have a problem, it will make it that much harder for them to act passive-aggressive because they know you pick up on it and they know you’re someone who will confront it openly instead of playing stupid games.

    1. Chriama*

      I think asking them if they’re upset or don’t like working with you is more likely to start drama than anything else. Now you’re making it personal instead of professional, and also opening the door for a bunch of passive-aggressive bs. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if they’re upset or don’t like working with you because a reasonable adult wouldn’t let that impact your working relationship. Alison’s script is perfect, if you’re really conscientious you can add something like “do you have any concerns about this plan or our current process?”

      1. Jaguar*

        Well, I’ve had a lot of success with this. I guess if OP is fine dealing with the behaviour, then it would make sense not to address it, but my experience has been that if you address it head on, the behaviour either stops (and often the dislike goes away entirely) or, very rarely, it becomes an open issue as opposed to a passive-aggressive one.

        1. Blurgle*

          Or they just try to gaslight you and octuple down – which is in my experience the most likely outcome of “addressing it head-on”.

          1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

            Dammit, Blurgle! As soon as I read “octuple down” I immediately thought of an octopus dancing to this (click) and now I can’t stop giggling.

          2. Tangerina Warbleworth*

            Dammit, Blurgle! When I read “octuple down.” my brain immediately flashed to an octopus dancing to this (click) and now I can’t stop giggling. ;)

        2. Snork Maiden*

          I think it’s a case of “know your audience.” I’ve been in situations where “Going forward, I need us to agree to X” will shut it down effectively, and others where “What is your damage?!” stops them dead (and in some cases, garners their respect.)

          1. Mike C.*

            I can agree here. There are some time you need to be absolutely blunt and yeah, they respect you more for it.

        3. Tacocat*

          I think if it was just passive aggressive behavior, like no real impact to getting work accomplished, just clear someone was peeved with you, this works. In this case, and in others like it, it is less helpful because the passive aggressiveness itself is less crucial than the impact on the work. In this case, it changes the focus from the most important result: getting the OP’s work accurately reported to the boss and aware that there might be an integrity issue with Monica and Rachel. Instead, it makes it about her relationship with them and opens it up to them thinking the main issue is their feelings towards her. As Chriama stated, the issue here isn’t whether this stems from them having a problem with Phoebe and more is that they need to act professionally regardless of their feelings.

    2. meagain*

      If I’ve learned anything in the last year, confrontation no matter how nicely done with best intention, is not the way to go. I thought I was being polite and grown up trying to address issues and not get the other person in trouble. Guess what–the other person took it to my boss, complained that I was a bully because I explained that their actions were affecting my work. Guess who got the sit-down lecture?
      After that, I took everything to the boss. I figured out that it was a micromanaging thing and just let it go. Put my head down and directly reported to boss and/or cc’d boss on important things when I had to deal with toxic person. Took the target off of me and finally the real issues started showing up. My headache and dread went away.

      1. LW*

        Ugh, that sounds awful – I’m sorry you dealt with such a toxic person, but glad you found a solution that worked! I mentioned it on another thread, but if I were to confront them, it’d be on a lunch (assuming I would want to go after all this…kinda broke my rose colored glasses).

        But I’m a crier whenever I’m stressed, and that is so not how I want that conversation to go. Especially in the middle of an Au Bon Pain or something haha. So I’m keeping my polite, civil distance.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Yes, I think you probably want to have lots of other things occupying your time when the wicked stepsisters issue lunch invites.

      2. Jaguar*

        Yeah. There seems to be a lot of objection to my suggestion, so maybe this specific sort of personality conflict hasn’t happened with me before. But I still have to believe you learned the wrong lesson from that encounter. Addressing conflict openly and directly is both the mature and the ethical thing to do, and as I said, from my personal experience, it’s also the most helpful.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I take serious issue with a blanket statement claiming that addressing all conflict openly is “the mature and ethical thing to do”. As several people have pointed out, many of us have direct personal experience that addressing this kind of passive-aggressive bullying behavior openly can backfire spectacularly, feed the drama llama, whatever you want to call it, and make things much worse rather than making it better.

          In a healthy workplace, yes, addressing conflict openly is ideal. However, when you’re dealing with people who’ve already proved they can’t be trusted to be mature or ethical about something, you need to get pragmatic rather than hold on to your idealism regarding maturity and ethics – and frankly, I think it is actually *more* mature to be able to realize when you’re up against a toxic personality and adjust your tactics accordingly (by informing your supervisor of the actions that were taken, and if you talk to the coworker directly specifically addressing only their actions as Alison suggested, rather than lobbing the conversational grenade that is an open question like “do you not like working with me/are you upset with me?”). Being “mature and ethical” doesn’t pay the rent, and forcing a confrontation with a passive-aggressive bullying coworker can end up in you being maturely, ethically out of a job if they manage to get you labeled the aggressor for calling them out.

          1. she was a fast machine*


            Anytime someone says “x method is THE adult way to do it and the only mature thing to do” it sends up red flags. There is no “method” that is always 100% of the time the best way to handle it. If there was, we’d all know it and wouldn’t need AAM!

        2. Observer*

          Addressing conflict openly and directly is the mature and ethical thing to do IN SOME CASES. In others, that’s just not true.

          When someone tells you that they decided to make your report disappear because you are doing a good job and they aren’t, there is no ethical imperative to imperative to invite more complaints, which is what your script is in these circumstances.

          Also, maturity is not about getting people to like you. Addressing BEHAVIOR is generally a mature thing to do, although even that has exceptions. In this case, asking why they have a problem is, imo, the reverse of the mature thing to do. You see, it doesn’t matter WHY they don’t like her. Mature adults understand that you have to behave yourself even when you don’t like someone. So, instead of the feeding into the “I don’t like you. So there!”, toddler dynamic, stick to the mature “Let’s all behave like reasonable people.”

          1. Jaguar*

            I agree that the behaviour is what should stop, but we’re discussing strategies to get the behaviour to stop. “Why are you acting like this?” is the place to start.

            Honestly, I’m really surprised that the idea that you should talk to people if you have a problem with them is so controversial here.

            1. Observer*

              That’s not what’s controversial. What’s controversial is the idea that there is ONE way to deal, and the idea that you should ask people why they are doing manifestly wrong things – and even in a way that implies acceptance of some of the blame for this.

              Talking to people is OFTEN a good idea, but not always. Talking to people in a manner of “What did I do to cause this?” way is usually a bad idea, and “Why are you doing this?” is rarely better, in a workplace context.

              1. Jaguar*

                There’s plenty of ways to deal with the situation and some are better than others. Obviously people should take the context into consideration when deciding how to address it, but lacking context and speaking broadly, I believe addressing the situation directly and openly is both the best course of action in terms of how to resolve the issue as well as the mature and moral way of handling it. I don’t agree with you at all that a workplace is somehow different.

                Again, I’ve had conflicts, both with other people’s behaviour and other people taking issue with my behaviour. I’ve always addressed the issues openly and have never had the catastrophes other people have discussed here, so maybe I’m lacking in an important experience other people have had (I’m skeptical, though). Some of the cases where I’ve talked to someone to find out what’s going on, they were acting crappy in response to something they didn’t like about me. After talking, all hard feelings disappeared. But I’ve also had instances of people complaining about me to others / my boss or denying the problem and then continuing to act crappy. Both were supremely awful things to do!

                I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be confrontational, but I totally disagree with you saying that talking to people is “not always” a good idea. It may not always solve the issue, but it’s a step that should be endeavoured. I understand it’s hard. It opens you up as vulnerable and nobody likes confrontation, but I also think it’s a pretty basic application of the golden rule: if the roles are reversed, I definitely expect other people to talk to me if they have a problem with me. Many people fail that expectation, but those that don’t, I have far more respect for.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Directly addressing things may not be the way to go at your current job, but please don’t extrapolate from that to other workplaces or you can do yourself real damage in the future! When people adapt to dysfunctional workplaces and then carry those adaptions with them to their next job, they can mean that they end up behaving in ways that are really dysfunctional in better-run places. So just see it as a temporary adaptation, not a lesson forever.

        1. Rocky*

          Epiphany for me right there! In fact I might use that to approach the difficult person in another agency who is causing havoc in the relationships around our inter-agency table…If I assume this approach must have worked for her in the past, I can finally put myself in her shoes (everyone else is just sort of shrugging helplessly at her behaviour).

  5. Dust Bunny*

    What, seriously? Not edited your part, but deleted it completely? Holy moley.

    Yeah, I think you boss needs to be in on this, too. That was too big a swipe to let go unaddressed.

  6. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    Hmm. If the report is only read by “us”, then why are Rachel and Monica so concerned about looking bad?

    Rachel and Monica need to grow up. If it makes them look bad, maybe they need to step up their own work instead of complacently bitching.

    OP: make to sure to backup all of your documents, including onto a separate flash drive that you keep locked in your desk, especially if those documents are on a shared drive. Such things can magically disappear. You might also want to password-protect your Word documents, such that they can’t be edited. I had to do that with a particularly deceptive boss.

      1. Menacia*

        I actually email documents and other items that I think I might need to my personal email address to store at home because you just never know!

        1. Temperance*

          Oooh just a warning – this is strictly forbidden at my place of employment due to our data security protocols. Good advice, so long as you don’t have the same limitations we do.

    1. KarenT*

      That jumped out at me as well. If no one reads it, why do Monica and Rachel care if it’s in the final version or not?

    2. Rahera*

      I think backing things up is very sensible, and this is a situation in which I would also discreetly alert my boss. I wouldn’t call Monica and Rachel out on their behaviour, but I would take their brazenness and their behaviour as a warning to watch my back at all times.

  7. Observer*

    I’d just add two things. Don’t assume that they will act in the interests of the company or with any integrity at any point.

    And, don’t expect them to act with good sense, going forward. This might work to your advantage, because it’s their stupidity that alerted you to the problem, and it might alert you in the future. Don’t depend on it though. Just keep in mind that just because something sounds just TOO stupid to have done, do bet on that.

  8. LW*

    LW here.

    Alison (and commenters!) thank you so much! I’ve been torturing myself about this a little for fear of coming across overly sensitive, but definitely felt like this went over the line. Fortunately, I meet with my boss regularly throughout the year so this isn’t the only documentation she sees about what I’m doing (especially since she’s recently started training me on something new), but now I’m aware that I need to double check the final reports. I’ve always assumed everything I submitted would be in there, won’t make that mistake again.

    I was hesitant to bring it to my boss only because I still feel like the newbie and don’t want to be the squeaky wheel, but at our next one-on-one I will at least mention it. Just a bummer after feeling like, even if we weren’t BFFs (which is fine – I have friends outside of work), we at least had a good rapport among the three of us.

    1. Kai*

      Yeah, that has to sting. Ugh! I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. But it sounds like you’re handling it really well–they’re definitely the ones with the problem, not you.

    2. Liz*

      You’ve been there long enough for an annual report, you’re not a newbie squeaky wheel- this is directly impacting your performance appearance now. In fact my only change from the advice given is to omit the “I feel awkward about this” part. There’s nothing to feel awkward- the facts are what they are. You present them as such and as an FYI as a way to document, CYA, and allow management at least some chance to get on top of it.

    3. Emmie*

      You are not a newbie ;). You are a seasoned professional who – with the least amount of seniority- is outperforming those with more in company experience. I’m glad your mentioning this. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d want to know as a manager. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I’m also very glad you know about it.

    4. HumbleOnion*

      How soon is the next one on one? Can you meet with her tomorrow instead? As a boss, this sort of sabotage is the kind of thing I’d want to know about ASAP. What if something else happens between now & your next 1-1?

    5. LQ*

      I think that it would be good to stop thinking about this as mean girl behavior and start thinking about it as aggressive to the company. This isn’t about how you feel. This isn’t they don’t eat lunch with you but everything else is ok.

      This is they are hiding deliberately sabotaging documents. Documents that may be used to talk about what was done last year, what can and should be done next year, it could impact staffing, it could impact future projects. The company may take on less work because they don’t know how much was getting done. (This shouldn’t be the only want it is known how much work is done, but this can absolutely impact it.)

      This isn’t mean girls, this is coworkers who are trying to sabotage you and the company.

        1. Observer*

          That is completely true. You are also not doing the company any favors – what else are they going to delete, if it makes them look bad?

    6. babblemouth*

      Nothing wrong with being a squeeky wheel: it means you’re alerting the driver to a problem that needs her attention, and reminding her all wheels need oiling and checking from time to time :)

    7. neverjaunty*

      It’s not overly sensitive to come to your boss with a professional issue – which is exactly what this is.

      Your feeling like an oversensitive newbie is precisely the atmosphere the Dunder Twins are trying to cultivate – one where you feel junior and inferior to them. Reject their gaslighting!

      1. sayevet*

        Yes, this professional issue only becomes personal if you include the intention behind the action. If you alert your boss of the action alone, it remains professional.

    8. Mike C.*

      definitely felt like this went over the line

      Are there other situations that you wonder about with regards to these coworkers or is this the first time they’ve played games?

    9. Rahera*

      I’m really sorry, LW. That sort of thing leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. It’s really hard to remain dignified sometimes in that sort of situation but you sound like you’re being really restrained and sensible about it.

      Glad you have other regular check-ins with your boss. Best of luck to you. :)

  9. Troutwaxer*

    “Mean Girls! To the last, I will grapple with thee… from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee! For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee!”

      1. Troutwaxer*

        I was thinking more about Kirk and Khan and two-dimensional thinking – the whole harpooning thing has implications which are a little unkind!

        1. annoyed and anonymous*

          Uh-oh, once we move into Star Trek territory I become clueless but I’ll take your word for it!

  10. self employed*

    Ugh! I don’t want to sound paranoid, but you may want to take an extra security step or two now– always log out when you leave your desk, keep private things locked up or at home, etc. I’d hate for these people to try to get at you in a worse way. You sound like you are taking a mature road here, LW!

    1. LW*

      Very good point, and I’ve been lax about that in the past (not thinking there was a need for it, as naive as that sounds). I’ll be a lot more vigilant about backing up and locking things up from here on.

      1. Koko*

        A tip in case you didn’t already know: On Windows computers, the Windows key + L will instantly lock the computer. I’ve gotten myself into the habit of reflexively hitting Win + L every time I get up from my desk, even if for no other reason than an office intruder/thief could happen to enter the office while I’m in the bathroom (it’s not unheard of, there have been robberies in the past along those lines). It keeps all of the secure data on my computer secure from prying eyes, and it also makes my computer immediately less useful/valuable because it’s locked. Sort of like having your cell phone automatically lock every time you turn off the screen. Just good protocol.

        1. justsomeone*

          At one of my previous jobs this was a requirement that you would get audited on. If someone walked by and could see your screen when you were away you’d get in trouble. It’s not a requirement at my current job, but it’s so ingrained in me. My boss noticed and actually mentioned she wanted to get in the habit!

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Evil Law Firm did this audit with us as well. Now I never leave my computer unlocked, not even my personal laptop in the privacy of my own home, lol.

        2. NW Mossy*

          My company actually requires that people do this – we’re heavily regulated, so being able to use someone else’s machine, logged in as them, can give you permission to do things that are prohibited by our internal controls. The last thing you want is someone placing a financial transaction that they’re not authorized for!

        3. Adlib*

          This is absolutely a useful tool! I once had a boss who would go around at lunchtime to computers that weren’t locked and send emails from us to us. It taught us a lesson about locking things up, but still kind of a weird thing to do in my opinion.

          1. LQ*

            My small team and I decided that since we were the ones who were responsible for training on data security that we should be extremely good about this. We created a file in a shared drive with a “You’ve been busted image” and then when someone’s computer was unlocked someone else would open it up on the screen and lock the computer. It worked pretty well to get everyone to the point of locking their machines up. We slip occasionally, but it was a good thing to do I think.

            1. Kyrielle*

              At my last job, the traditional trick in our office was to change your desktop wallpaper.

              To something the person changing it thought would bug you (but that was worksafe).

              1. StartsWithZed*

                I heard a story about FormerBoss doing the best version of this once: took a screenshot of the person’s desktop, moved everything off the desktop into a new folder, and then made that screenshot the wallpaper.

                1. Kyrielle*

                  A former coworker set someone’s screensaver to a beastly little thing that mimicked a blue-screen (Windows 2000 box I think?) caused by a particular so perfectly the person yanked their box off the network.

                  I prefer things that may irritate but won’t result in IT tickets (don’t want to aggravate IT!)…like, say, setting the macho ex-firefighter’s wallpaper to a particularly over-cute pose of the Powerpuff Girls. *g*

            2. Mike C.*

              We like to use a photo of David Hasslehoff from his days on Baywatch set to the desktop.

              That sends the message loud and clear. :D

              1. KellyK*

                Wow, that tradition is widespread! That’s what folks do around here too. (I’m proud to say that I have never been Hasslehoffed.)

            3. Sensual Shirtcuff*

              Our computers must be locked for security. We always prank the new hires to reinforce this if they leave the laptop unlocked.

              If you have a Lenovo Thinkpad hit Ctrl-Alt-Down arrow, reverse with Ctrl-Alt-Up arrow. Turns the screen upsideown and VERY tricky to reverse using the menus if you don’t know the shortcut as your mouse is now going backwards

              Go into the Control Panel and switch the left and right mouse buttons, hours of fun.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Oh man. Something like this happened at former employer of mine.

            There was a travel assignment to East Nowheresville in the middle of summer that nobody wanted, and our supervisor emailed around to see if anyone wanted to volunteer before she picked someone. Well, Fergus went to lunch and left his computer unsecured. Wakeen promptly slipped into his office and sent an email from Fergus’s account explaining that he actually had family near East Nowheresville and would love a reason to go. Then, he waited for her to respond and deleted her confirming email to Fergus wouldn’t know any of this happened.

            You can imagine how Fergus reacted when the calendar came out (too late to change assignments) and he asked why he got stuck with it.

            1. Myrin*

              I am aghast at the audacity but also astounded by someone being willing to actually risk something like this – what if the supervisor hadn’t answered promptly? Surely Wakeen couldn’t have camped out next to Fergus’s computer for the whole day? If you don’t mind, how did the situation unfold after this? Since you live to tell us about it, Wakeen’s shenanigans must have come out eventually?

              1. neverjaunty*

                Fergus asked why he got the assignment and the supervisor, somewhat baffled, said “Because you requested it” and forwarded ‘his’ email back to him.

                It tells you all you need to know about Wakeen that 1) he was the immediate, obvious suspect and 2) when confronted he cheerfully admitted it.

      2. Troutwaxer*

        If it doesn’t violate company policy, send all important documents to yourself by email. You should probably print anything out that needs to go through the Mean Girls first, just so you have a correct copy you can give your boss if necessary.

        Also, maybe you can cc your boss on important stuff, like the poster said above, but you and your boss can agree on an email heading when you’re doing a CYA cc, so your boss can create an Outlook rule to send those mails to a special folder, so the boss doesn’t have to deal with it at all unless there’s a disagreement.

        1. TheAssistant*

          I personally like a Box or Dropbox folder for stuff like this that’s shared with two accounts – one for your work email and one for your personal. You can sync something like Box to your work computer so you can just save select items there as you would onto a company shared drive. Perfect for times when you don’t know where you’ll be or when you’ll need it, but you know you’ll need it eventually!

          1. Troutwaxer*

            Dropbox may violate security laws if there’s financial or medical stuff taking place. Sending anything off site has implications, and it would be a shame if LW got fired for trying to protect herself against getting fired, so the right thing to do is check the rules for both the her particular workplace, plus any government regulations before finalizing her backup plan. (And there definitely needs to be a backup plan!)

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I wonder if emailing files to herself at her work address (not home) would be appropriate?

              1. KellyK*

                That sounds reasonable. It doesn’t sound like the mean girls are in IT, so they shouldn’t have access to that. But it does require locking your computer when you get up (which you should do anyway), to make sure they can’t just mess with your emails from your desk.

          2. Namast'ay In Bed*

            A great thing about Dropbox (at least with a business account) is that it automatically tracks all changes made to a document – you can see who made what changes each time it was saved, and you can restore it back to any save point, no need to keep separate versions. (A super helpful feature for weekly reports if you accidentally save over last week’s before changing its name to this week’s date!)

      3. Mabel*

        I don’t think it’s naive to assume that your co-workers would not try to sabotage you and the company in order to cover up their lackluster performance. However, now that you know what they’re capable of, you can protect yourself.

  11. Chevron*

    Honestly, it’s overwhelmingly likely that they WILL pull this exact stunt again. While the LW called them out on it, even if the LW gives the boss a heads up about what happened, since the boss him/herself did not call out the Mean Girls, they will feel free to do it again. Maybe they won’t completely delete it, but the email they sent to the boss indicates they are planning on shortening the section whether the boss gives an OK or not. The email just creates plausible deniability, wherein if the boss says nothing they can just assume it’s an OK idea. They’re just hoping the boss won’t notice what they’re doing. Unless the boss calls them out on this, and specifically says there will be consequences if he/she suspects the LW’s section is not accurately reporting the work done, the Mean Girls will continue to sabotage. I even suspect that they will need more than one reminder from the boss not to sabotage.

    1. Yetanotherjennifer*

      LW, another handy tool might be a file comparison app that you can use to compare the contents of two documents. If next year they include your piece but delete every 3rd accomplishment of yours or alter some numbers, a quick comparison of your version and the final document will bring it to light. Usually these apps are used to examine code but they should work for text as well. I used Exam-diff when I worked on a Windows machine. I think it still exists.

      1. LQ*

        Word has a tool like this baked right in. There is both a compare and combine tool in the track changes area, which works pretty well.

  12. Cookie*

    Pay attention to how your boss acts….if they blow it off like it’s no big deal that says a lot about them. The last time I went to my boss with an issue he told me “people (co-workers) are horrible and I just needed to get used to it”. If she doesn’t have your back now they never will.

    1. neverjaunty*

      This is an excellent point. If the boss takes it seriously, OP might not know exactly what disciplinary measures were taken, but that’s very different from ‘oh, well, that’s just how they are’ or ‘you need to toughen up’ or similar.

    2. Mae*

      Exactly. In similar instances, I was always told to “roll with the punches” and “grow a thicker skin.” Not the support I was looking for. My morale decreased and I left said industry. I hope OP’s boss doesn’t let it get to that point.

  13. Trout 'Waver*

    Personally, I would ask your boss if it made sense to CC her on things sent to the two other coworkers. Not that she had to read it and review. Just so that there’s no potential for this to happen again.

    Also, I would not trust these two ever again. Anything they said to me would need to be verified from here on out. They tried to get you fired. I would take that very very seriously.

    1. Oryx*

      I’m both paranoid and strategic enough to take it a step further and BCC the boss (with permission) in an attempt to almost, well, trap Monica and Rachel.

      1. ReluctantBizOwner*

        BCC is a beautiful tool to have use with toxic coworkers.Old Manager was delighted at some of the stuff she got from me that way.

    2. Knitchic*

      Agree! I had to do this when we were having delivery issues and we’re getting almost zero response from our head office. If your boss agrees and you trust she won’t tip off Monica and Rachel it really could save your bacon.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        A former boss’ boss was so terrible at being bcc’d. He’d request that one of his reports bcc him on something sensitive with another employee, and then he’d either reply to the email thread or he’d say something in person to the other employee to out the person who bcc’d. After a couple times of that, no one would bcc him again. Be careful that you can trust your boss with bcc’s.

  14. Moonsaults*

    They are stupid enough to think that the boss wasn’t going to say “Hey, wait, a third of this is missing?”, that says a lot about how low they’ll continue to go.

    They’re lazy and you’re showing them up. If only they’d put that much effort into doing their actual job, they wouldn’t have to worry about looking like they’re doing so much less.

    It sounds like your boss likes you and is training you to do other things, therefore I’d just be aware that things may “go missing” and you can’t trust these twits.

  15. Jeanne*

    This is not passive-aggressive. It’s plain aggressive. They directly attacked you by making it look like you didn’t do any work. I would keep every interaction brief and professional. You can be friendly as in Good Morning but I wouldn’t be friendly as in go to lunch.

    1. Jaguar*

      Yeah, I mentioned it above, but this really isn’t passive-aggressive behaviour. It’s deliberate sabotage.

    2. LW*

      I agree with you about keeping everything brief and professional, my only hesitation with being *too* distant is because I think that will tip them off too much, and then their guards will be up too. This happened a couple weeks ago so I’ve been trying to act as normal as possible – while not trusting either of them at all since then.

      If anything, I figured another lunch outing would be the best time to bring it up with the two of them directly and away from our boss/the office. But to be honest I don’t even think I’d want to go anymore.

      1. Marisol*

        Hmmm…if it were me, I don’t think I would want to concern myself with whether or not I’m tipping them off. If anything, I might want them to see that I wouldn’t put up with their shenanigans, while still behaving professionally, so “tipping off” would be a good thing; it would convey a message of power and integrity, that you are someone who is not intimidated by them. I could see them being intimidated by *you* since Monica already thinks your work performance makes them look bad, and if they witness you standing your ground they might get really scared and stop messing with you.

        But it might be even better to steer clear of all of that and not even strategize, since contemplating what’s in their heads is kind of buying into a drama that you don’t want.

        Of course I don’t know the particulars of your situation and I may be reading too much into your comment, but those are my musings…

  16. Gene*

    If you don’t currently have a system for updating her on what you’re working on, create one so that you can start proactively letting her know what you’re achieving, what goals are coming up, etc.

    And don’t let Rachel and Monica know that you are doing this. All the security things people have mentioned as well. And since I’m a Machiavellian, since you haven’t been doing this in the past, start creating false documents that you leave where you have been leaving things prior to taking the security precautions. You want everything to look as it did before you learned their snakelike ways while subverting their plans to the best of your abilities.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is always good advice. You should always have a strategy for assuring that your boss knows your accomplishments. Sometimes it is by establishing some formal reporting every week or two; sometimes it is just a pattern of informal conversations at the water cooler or lunch room. But most bosses are not very alert to what everyone is accomplishing; it is on you to make sure they know as a matter of course, not just as year’s end.

  17. Anna*

    These two are trying to make you look bad to your boss (are they under-performing?) and you need to take it up with the boss directly.

  18. AnonAcademic*

    OP, it’s time to start a CYA file of this incident and any others that raise your hinky meter (other documents you send going missing, PA comments made directly to you or that you overhear, etc.). Start recapping in-person conversations about deadlines, delegation, etc. in email (“per our earlier conversation…”) and blame it on having a bad memory if things aren’t written down (or whatever). That way if they ever try escalating to the boss as a tactic, you have a file on them that you can dispassionately present and your boss (if they’re worth their salt) will quickly figure out who is full of BS here.

    1. LENEL*

      I did this with my cruel co-worker. Ignored me when I asked a question? Emailed myself a short note. Didn’t respond to me when I said good morning? Emailed myself a short note. Didn’t bother to say ‘happy birthday’ but got my boss (who funnily enough, had exactly the same birthday as me) a card and a bottle of expensive booze, emailed myself a note. Sent me “urgent” tasks last minute and didn’t tell me when she sat 2 metres away or less and didn’t mark them as urgent or provide any instructions on how to do something new, emailed myself a note.

      My boss didn’t want to deal because they were very friendly outside of work.

      Thankfully I have a really fair and transparent boss now and mean co-worker is gone. I would rather keep doing the work of two people than feel the nastiness radiate out from her all the time.

      Also, this gave me a sense that I actually actioned it in some way by doing something, if that makes sense. And helped me realise I wasn’t crazy, I was being bullied while I considered whether to collate and follow up with HR about the entire issue (and email AAM for some strategies but she left before I could quite articulate the problem without getting really emotionally involved because I did not have perspective on this).

  19. Seal*

    You might also ask that everyone gets the chance to proof the final copy of the next annual report before it goes to the boss, just so they don’t make the same “mistake” of cutting your section again.

    And because it can’t be overstated, make sure you document everything from here on. These people obviously have no shame and will undoubtedly continue to try to undermine your work.

  20. Kate*

    Quick question: how do you do these updates? Send an e-mail every Friday a summary of what you did all week? What if boss never asked for something like this? Which way is more effective in giving these updates to your boss?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. LW*

      I suppose it can differ depending on the specific work/progress you have to show. My position revolves around a calendar of monthly deadlines, so we meet every other week or so, and I send/share an updated calendar that show upcoming items, things that have been completed, etc. Summer’s been quiet but things are picking up again so those meetings will be more frequent. My boss likes to be in the know, so I err on the side of over-sharing sometimes (work-related stuff, of course).

  21. Menacia*

    What the f’ing f? These two women just suck, not just because they did this, but also because it’s obvious they aren’t even doing the same level of work you are if they think your contributions make them look bad. Definitely speak with your boss in the professional manner suggested, perhaps it will open a larger discussion as to what these two biatches do all day. Sometimes the only good defense is a good offense. I would love to hear back from this OP if/when she talks to these coworkers about what they did and are asked not to do it again, what their responses were. These two women suck, just had to say it again.

  22. Rick*

    So you know, many modern word processors will show you the revision history. This could be useful for accountability.

    Google is particularly convenient for this (Check File -> See revision history). Even MS Word keeps track of what changed, but it requires special tools to see.

  23. Christine*

    Those two are ingrained in their positions and feel a certain amount of security. Feel for you. I would just bc: yourself everything that you send to the two of them. At least you’re aware of what those two are like. If they can do something like that, that cannot be covered up I would be worrying about what they’ve done that you’re not aware of.

    Talk to your boss. This should concern your boss beyond the tracking of efforts, hiring needs, performance evals, etc. …. reasons like this is why new employees leave. When you have a hard worker that comes into an office and finds themselves being sabotaged by the current employees; people start job searching versus dealing with it. Do your boss a favor and discuss it so he’s aware of what has taken place, and not be surprised if it happens again. There could be a trend of bad behavior on their part that has ran everyone out of the job … that’ s an assumption on my part. I’ve been there; but my issue was someone taking credit for my work. She even accepted a thank you from the faculty member for work I had done. He had a screwed up travel reimbursement (that she had done) and I research the supporting documents, and told accounts payable where the miscalculation was). Our boss was aware of what had taken place and notified me. Be aware of them taking credit for your work elsewhere. Put this in your boss’s court. If he has your back and is willing to address the issue, than he’s a good boss. To me, this should be an offense that where the woman (or both) that deleted your portion of the report and submitted it, requires a formal written warning. If your boss just rolls over and plays dead (not sure what to think if he does that). It’s surprising how many supervisors are conflict avoidant . . . than you have to decide what to do than. I do not know how to handle the two sabotagers (sp?) since they freely admit the reasoning beside their actions.

    Do you think that it’s a pot shot at you? besides the fear of you out performing them? Are they quite lazy and you scare them? not as skilled as needed? It could be a certain amount of envy and professional jealously behind the action. They are showing that they are threatened by you.

    Well . . . if you ever resign and go elsewhere you have my permission to superglue their desk drawers shut on the way out the door.

    LW — why did the individual in your prior position leave? or is a totally new position you got hired into?

    1. LW*

      Thank you for sharing this! There’s validation in hearing from others that I’m not imagining things but now I’m also afraid of the implications like you suggest – what else they’re doing that I’m not aware of.

      The previous person at my position left to pursue grad school in another city. She was meticulous and organized in everything she did and her files have been super helpful for me when I transitioned into the job, and when I first started she even answered questions for me via email. My boss speaks very highly of her so I was pretty intimidated stepping into her shoes.

      Of course, Rachel and Monica told me that she was quiet as a mouse, and I’m starting to understand why she kept to herself a lot. No idea if similar things happened when she was there but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, for sure.

      1. Salyan*

        Yeah, ‘quiet as a mouse’ can be a personality thing, but it can also be a red flag. I’m fairly quiet myself, though I can do my fair bit of talking when I feel like it! – but when I was dealing with a toxic coworker, I absolutely shut down and avoiding any unnecessary conversation. Turning into a mouse was the safest way to survive.

  24. Employment Lawyer*

    I don’t know if I think this is going far enough.

    I hate to say this. But in my experience, this is unlikely to improve and likely to worsen, unless you put a LOT of effort into it. More often that we would like, a determined saboteur will often win in the end. Enemies are very effective: it’s really hard to keep your guard up constantly, and its even more difficult to protect against “not sharing information.” And when it’s two on one, it gets worse.

    It’s hard to be specific without really knowing you and your boss. But I would be cautious not to understate this. You need your boss to recognize quickly that this is a Big Deal. And also if your boss doesn’t recognize this as a potential major deal, that may cause you to question your future there.

    If you stay, you’ll want to get in the habit of documenting EVERYTHING. They can lie about what they said, but they can’t lie about what they wrote, so long as you have a copy. Also, keep a diary (updated constantly–what we call a “contemporaneous record”) and note any things they say which are a problem, together with date/time/location/etc.

    1. LENEL*

      All of this. And it’s also exhausting and draining and distressing.

      I am so sorry you’re going through this OP.

  25. animaniactoo*

    This seems like a good place for a clarification e-mail that asks the boss to respond.

    “Can you please clarify – do you think I should be less descriptive about my projects/events, or only include the higher profile ones? [Boss], what is your preference?”

  26. TootsNYC*

    I don’t think I’d say “because they thought it would make them look bad.” As a boss, I wouldn’t love that drama. That feels a little “under the bus.”
    I think it’s often unwise to talk about other people’s motivations–you look as though you’re assuming things about them (even if they directly said it, your boss may not hear it that way).

    Stick w/ facts that are objectively provable (like, “My list was much longer than theirs”) yet still sort of highlight the situation (if the list was longer, you must have done more). They’ll look just as bad as they deserve to.

    I think I’d stick with, “They deleted the whole section. Do you want that level of detail in there? I know my part was a lot longer, but it was just the basics, really / what I thought you’d asked for.”
    And I’d definitely say, “You saw Monica’s email about putting less in that report. Please let me know what you want in there. My list was pretty basic, and I thought you wanted to have it all in one place. It seems counterproductive to have a partial list, or a list in two places. Let me know, and maybe alert Monica, since she puts it together.”

    1. Observer*

      I’m not sure I understand your issue. These two SAID that they deleted her work because they thought it made them look bad. As a boss, do you really think that this is just irrelevant drama? Do you not recognize the implications of that?

      As a boss you need to realize that not only did they do something like this, but that they will go to some very unethical lengths to make themselves look good. That may be more drama than you want, but it’s very important information, and it’s your job as a manager to deal with it.

      As for the “under the bus” thing, what on earth?! They tried to delete here work – and when forced to include it they continued to try to reduce it. Why on earth should she go out of her way to protect them? She’s not making something up, or blaming them for something that was not their fault. She is simply informing the boss of what happened.

      1. Norman*

        “I’m not sure I understand your issue. These two SAID that they deleted her work because they thought it made them look bad.”

        Yeah, but does LW have that in writing? Because her coworkers are going to deny they said that if the boss asks, and then it’s just workplace he said/she said drama.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I saw the comment upstream about how this sort of behavior can have a negative impact on morale and drive an employee away.
      I think you can say, “It felt pretty demoralizing/demotivating when they deleted it completely.” And maybe stuff like, “It affects how much trust in have in them now.”

      Because you’re talking about the impact on you, but not their motivations, emotions, internal feelings/reactions.

    3. Chriama*

      I get the hesitation in claiming they said it made them look bad. It’s like the braggy kid who says everyone’s jealous when they don’t want to hear him talk about his cool stuff for the hundredth time. But in this case you really don’t want to make any of this your problem or responsibility. You can say “I’ve spoken to them and asked that they run edits to my work by me in the future but I also want to let you knpw because their behavior and response to my question was pretty unsettling”. That way you acknowledge that this was what they said as opposed to what you’re projecting and also underscore the seriousness of what they did. They sabotaged her work! It doesn’t matter that it was something of small impact, the fact of the matter is they were willing and able to undermine her and do something to decrease the visibility of her accomplishments. As a boss, I definitely want to know that sort of integrity issue in one of my employees. You don’t know what other info the boss could be relying on them for, and now she knows to double-check anything they bring to her.

      1. TootsNYC*

        That might be a way to present the “they told me I make them look bad” thing.

        You just run a risk when you start talking about other people’s motivations. Even if they said it to you in exactly those words, other people aren’t likely to think you’re telling the strict factual truth. They’re likely to believe you’re coming to that conclusion yourself.

    4. Sarah*

      I disagree completely. If that was simply her inference or the vibe she got, that would be one thing. But, this is what they actually said to her, and it constitutes an issue that the boss needs to address – that Rachel and Monica would do something like that for such a petty reason. I don’t know if you’re a boss or manager, but I would hope that anyone in a supervisory role would not penalize the OP for simply reporting “drama” that was not of her making.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I was talking about my own strategy if I were in our OP’s situation.

        However, I do confess that I am highly skeptical when someone talks about other people’s motivations. Because my experience is that people like to assume they know WHY other people do things, and then they state that as fact. So I’d start out with a very strong skepticism about the factualness of “they thought my list would make them look bad.”
        And I’d be asking, “did they say that directly? Those exact words?”

        And therefore, if I were bringing the problem to my boss, I wouldn’t leap to bringing that part of it us. I’d just stick w/ “my list is quite a bit longer than theirs,” and let my boss come to the “I bet they thought it would make them look bad” conclusion on her own.
        Not that I’d hide the “she said exactly these words” if it came to it, but that wouldn’t be where I’d start.

  27. Cat Steals Keyboard*

    I don’t think they’re just mean girls to watch out for. In my book this is workplace bullying and needs to be addressed by management.

  28. Sarah*

    I know others have said this, but I just want to reiterate that I think it’s not simple “mean girl” behavior, and that it’s a serious workplace issue. Your boss is the one who sets the parameters for the annual report – both how it is compiled and what should be in it. You followed through on your steps, and a co-worker chose to delete your portion from the annual report. That both made you look bad to your boss and did a disservice to your boss because now the report is incomplete. I am shocked that Rachel and Monica admitted they chose to delete it because they thought it made them look bad. I can’t decide which is more unprofessional – deleting your section or saying that to you. I agree with Alison that now you have to be very skeptical and cautious in your dealings with R&M. I also think that this is an issue for your boss to deal with, since the document they tampered with was a report for him. I’m sorry you have such unprofessional and immature co-workers, but at least they showed their true colors in a very obvious way so that now you know.

    1. Cat Steals Keyboard*

      In fact, would anyone say it’s just playground mean stuff if it was a man who did this to her?

  29. Callietwo*

    I had a coworker that would change sales and bank figures that I had submitted and then would bring the sheets to the boss and say “Look at this…Callietwo is an idiot, you need to fire her”..

    Was originally hired as her backup and I knew something was up but couldn’t put my finger on it. Well, fast forward a few months, I’m fired and on unemployment (which she tried to have denied and lost) and next thing I know the state police are looking for me to question me about her.. she was let out of prison last year for embezzling.

    When I hear of people erasing things, or removing date from reports, it gets my hackles up and raises my suspicions. (And I now passcode all my files that are on the shared drive at work- overkill I’m sure but once burned and all that jazz)

    1. Observer*

      I’m so sorry that this happened to you. But, this is just the kind of thing I’ve been thinking about when I said “what else will they delete”.

      1. Callietwo*

        Thank you. It truly was an awful time in my life that landed me in the hospital on three separate occasions. But I’m now in a place that seems to value me and my work. I’ll know about that more later today, hopefully! (Interviewed for a promotional position Wed and am to hear today >fingers crossed<

        My most recent boss was horrified to find out I kept all my documents passcoded but didn't ask/tell me to stop, and she's no longer my supervisor. Handling my files this way keeps my stress levels down. I don't have any documents that anyone else needs to edit but everyone does need to have read access to my notes so I don't see how it harms anyone at all.

        1. KellyK*

          If your new boss has a problem with it, depending on your relationship with them, you might want to tell them the condensed version of why. E.g., “I know it’s a little paranoid, but at my last job, I actually had someone deliberately sabotage my work. While I know no one around here would do that, after that bad experience, password-protecting the files makes me feel more comfortable. Of course, if there are files you need to be able to edit, I’ll be happy to leave them unprotected.”

        2. Observer*

          Your new boss may be equally horrified. I’d insist that it stop. There are some good reasons for that. If someone had an issue like yours, I’d make sure they had a secure place to keep copies of everything they did, and also show her how to turn on revision tracking for everything.

          The thing is, I do see why people need to cover themselves, and I am more than happy to give them the tools to do so. But, password protecting all of your files creates its own set of problems that I couldn’t allow someone to expose my organization to.

          1. Tia*

            This. I work with someone who did this. And then went off long term sick. IT just loved spending several days de-passwording years of files (until we looked at them we didn’t know if there was something that did require the password so we started out getting them to give certain people permission before giving up any getting them to make the documents available on the server). It didn’t help that she’d randomly used the ultra secure setting for some of the documents which meant you couldn’t even see the file existed if you didn’t know it was there.

  30. Green Tea Pot*

    Best advice I ever got from my first office supervisor, back in the low-tech days was to keep a “junk drawer” with copies and drafts of reports, edited pieces, etc. In those days, it was a lower desk drawer, now it can be an electronic file; make hard copies, too, and save certain emails.

    Keeping backups got me out of hot water when coworkers rewrote (and butchered) my traditionally written news release and blamed me when the editor in chief demanded a rewrite. It might seem small to most of you now, but it got me a bad performance appraisal. I refused to sign off on the PA, produced the draft, and got a refused PA within a week.

    I was student at the time,

    1. Callietwo*

      Yes! I save EVERYTHING now… At the position I mention just above here, I wish I had covered my butt better. We were doing accounting on 17 column green sheets (in 2010 for gawd sake!) and when I tried to do the work on excel spreadsheets, she had the IT person remove excel off my computer (she being the office manager that went to prison for embezzlement) I wish with all my being that I had taken copies of those damn green sheets before I turned them in to her. I was just too trusting. Live & Learn.

  31. Lindsay*

    I would have likely replied back, with the boss cc’d, and said something like, “I’m hesitant to accept that the length of my contribution was a factor when I clearly heard you and Monica, today at 3:30pm, discussing how you feel that my work makes you two look like you aren’t doing anything. Did I hear that correctly earlier, Rachel? I also find it more than a little alarming that you both made a decision not to include me behind my back and behind the back of so-and-so, who requires this information. I am responsible for providing necessary information and I don’t believe it is up to you two to decide what is necessary. I respectfully require that my contribution to the report is included as-is and verbatim. Thank you and good day”

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