Dealing with employee betrayal

Trust defines every interaction in a working relationship, it builds intimacy and it strengthens bonds. Without trust no relationship can thrive. Unfortunately people don’t always cherish trust the way that they should. Because it is often given freely at first it is also easily taken for granted. When trust has been damaged it can spell doom for managers,  and it can be very hard, if not impossible, to do your job without keeping watching your back and who the hell wants to work in that type of toxic environment ?
Whether or not trust can ever be restored depends on how badly it was damaged and how much the spurned person feels betrayed. If you’ve had your trust betrayed then you know how hard it can be to let go, move on and fix the relationship. So what is backstabbing and why does it happen ?
It’s called “backstabbing” for a reason; betrayal feels like someone plunged a sharp, rusty knife deep in your back, gave you a pat on the back to dig it in deeper, especially after you treated them so well as their manager. Some people tend to feel that they’re the ones to blame, like they haven’t been paying enough attention to their employees, or that they did something wrong.

The important thing to remember is that you’re the victim. You’ve been a good boss to the person who stabbed you in the back. You were genuine, upfront, and you had nothing to hide. It’s all right to feel bad for yourself, but you shouldn’t blame yourself for being betrayed. You’re the one who’s already suffering from your employees betrayal, so you have every right to be mad and feel victimized.

Nobody is born a backstabber, but there are many reasons why an employee  you once thought to be a good person can betray you. Get to the root of the problem: why did your employee betray the trust you had in him or her for so long? Some of the reasons can get quite ugly:

  • Jealousy. Chances are that your employee is insanely jealous of you. Maybe you’re more well-off, more popular with others, or that you’re doing better . Some backstabbers feel that they’re being treated like that “typical employee,” and are not getting as much attention or respect as their others within your group.  They often also feel that they should have your job and like to make up their own rules like coming in late and refusing to openly sharing information with you.
  • Selfishness. Another common excuse for backstabbing is, “I did it for us.” Some people try to justify backstabbing, and say that they only did it to protect you from a manager who want to do you harm, or are up to no good. Chances are your employee  is just trying to get away with backstabbing you and trying to justify it in their own mind.
  • Somebody else made him or her do it. Two of the most common excuses a backstabber makes are, “I didn’t know what I was doing,” or “Someone else made me do it.” While it’s tempting to take the crocodile tears of your friend as genuine, don’t believe a word of it. Remember: he or she decided to freely and consciously betray your trust when he or she stabbed you in the back.


So what can you do  ?  First, let the negative feelings and anger go.  I know you want to get even but remember that what comes around goes around and that these people will eventually be found out for what they are.


Second, acknowledge the fact that the working relationship is never, ever, going to be the same.  You can say “it’s water under the bridge” but in reality people can never really forgive a coworker who stabs them in the back.


Finally you can have the courage to do something about it.  This means becoming a hard nosed by the book manager and documenting everything or not allowing yourself to stoop to their level and saying “screw this, life’s too short.  I’m outa here.”  If you don’t have the option of quitting think of the damage that the person is doing to your mental health and the stress they are adding if you stay.


The pain and anger of betrayal at work is not easy to get over and can ruin a great job and turn it into the type of job where you get up every morning with a knot in your stomach.  When you reach out to someone with kindness and as a mentor and they turn that against you it’s their problem not yours.  Life is too short so leave them to their destructiveness and embrace good people who don’t turn against you. Remember you can have a lot of co-workers who you think are friends but they are just co-workers.  Use the term “friend” very closely.

2 thoughts on “Dealing with employee betrayal

  1. Very well-said. At the end of the day we are co-workers and a professional yet “cordial” relationship must be maintained, which doesn’t necessarily mean friendship. I found this article very interesting, thank you for sharing.

  2. i saved 4 persons life. they were under the line of poverty. i made their life better paying them 4x the averge wage in the coutry.
    they all stabbed me .
    their reason: he is making money, we are getting few money in comparision of what he gets.
    Jealousy, lack of moral values.
    the lesson learnt : 1-never tell your employees how much is your margin.
    2- never hire an employee that is close to another employee you fired especially if he knows how much is your margins.
    3- never get employees too close to you. i mean never make them friends. they will see you of their level and they will feel not enough paid for their ” super hard job” meanwhile you are sleeping. even if you give them 1million per week and you make 10 they will feel underpaid.
    those are some of the small business problems, that’s why most of small business never succeed. especially in services where the needed capital is small to start. every employee is waiting his opportunity to swoop down on you if you dont keep your business secrets away from them and keep them too away from you.
    and never never never hire a friend of yours. help him, give him money lend him. but never hire him. he will destroy you and your frienship.

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