Turn Backstabbing into Productive Front Stabbing!

February 25, 2014, by , Posted in Blog,Leadership, 2 Comments

We all want to believe we left childish games and backstabbing on our grade school, high school or even college playgrounds. However, backstabbing continues into the workplace; at all levels of the organization, even by those leading the company and its people.

According to a Hogan Assessment Systems survey of 700 people: 80% of U.S. workers say they’ve been lied to, stolen from, cheated or treated dishonestly by a supervisor or a co-worker.

Back stabbing comes in many forms when it comes to business. It isn’t just the overt talking, ridiculing or judging of someone from behind; and it isn’t just when someone purposely betrays ones trust. It is also as subtle as someone not dealing with conflict, failing to confront difficult issues or conveying serious feedback, and/or putting their own needs in front or in place of someone else. To the employee, peer, or even boss on the other end, they consider it backstabbing and betrayal.

Don’t agree? Go to Wikipedia and type in ‘backstabbing’ and they will automatically direct you to betrayal.

Some, so called leaders, laugh off such a notion; yet one subtle but dangerous form of backstabbing includes the passive aggressive approach many professionals take; by making a negative comment, in the form of a joke while in a group setting, with the intention of causing professional harm to the other. It may appear to be front stabbing, but, it is in fact backstabbing or betrayal in the most basic form.

No true leader ever consciously betrays someone. Yet, if there are times when your silence, action, word or judgment is at the detriment of someone else, you have to step back, assess your behavior (or that of another), and reset from the front! Ignore it, and you are ignoring a key role of a leader: to deal with people and difficult situations and behavior upfront, transparent, and respectful.

And if you don’t think your own leadership reputation is or will be affected by the behavior; frankly, you are wrong. It may not today, but it will some day.

“Having a betrayer in the office does more than just damage interpersonal relationships; such individuals can also hinder employee morale, engagement and productivity,” said Chamorro-Premuzic.

Here are LEADERtips™ for coming at it from the front –

  • Lead by example. If you don’t want team members to be complaining, talking about, judging or disrespecting others, be sure you are not demonstrating the behavior with your own actions.
  • Create an open, respectful and collaborative environment and culture within your team that advocates transparency, directness and support; eliminating any reason for backstabbing behavior.
  • Address conflict, issues or difficult situations head on. If you have an issue with someone, have bad news to convey, or don’t like something you are observing or experiencing, pull them aside and be unemotionally direct on the issue; regarding your role (if applicable) or theirs, and the solutions to be taken; asking them for their solutions as well.
  • If you observe backstabbing from anyone; on or outside your direct team, approach the individual provoking it and discuss the situation directly. Engage them to justify their actions, provide a solution and to acknowledge their behavior. Then work with their manager and/or them to see it through with the other party to ensure it is resolved, and the behavior is not repeated.
  • Don’t avoid or ignore an employee, peer or boss you discover is or could be offended by your actions or words. You’re a leader; be upfront, admit any wrong doing or misunderstanding, or apologize for what may have happened.
  • Be upfront and transparent with your team and others on your own goals and ambitions at work and at home. It will provide them a basis for understanding of your actions and words.
  • Don’t allow backstabbing or betrayal from any of your team members.
  • If you are not skilled at dealing with conflict or issue resolution, seek out the training or coaching; as they are critical skills of an effective and successful leader.

Corporate cultures win or lose based on each individual employee, rolling up to a team and into the company. Ensure each and every one of them, including you, are treating others with respect and integrity.

BONUS – You can also view this video on Dealing with a Bully in the Workplace; my most watched video (and radio show topic).

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Bernadette Boas is the ball of fire behindBall of Fire Consulting, a strategy and leadership consulting practice, and Ball of Fire Inc. (media/publishing). Bernadette is a business growth and leadership consultant, trainer, speaker, radio personality of Shedding the Bitch Radio, and author of her first book Shedding the Corporate Bitch, Shifting Bitches to Riches in Life and Business. Her focus is on igniting leadership in individuals, businesses and their company cultures to one of RICHness and profit.

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2 Responses to “Turn Backstabbing into Productive Front Stabbing!”

  1. I have been notified that you are having trouble commenting on this post….. am looking into it currently and using this comment as a test.
    Bernadette Boas recently posted..Turn Backstabbing into Productive Front Stabbing!My Profile

  2. Doc Robyn says:

    Thanks for writing about this important topic. As you know it is near and dear to my heart. Too many adults condone backstabbing by others because they are silent. To stop this and other drama behaviors each of us needs to not allow it to take place around us.


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