Back-stabbed At Work – What Would You Do?

stabbedAs much as we would like to think that the business world is far, it’s not. The reality is that we can all get back-stabbed at work. The important thing is how we deal with it if and when it happens.

This is a true story that happened to a colleague of mine. What would you do if this happened to you at work?

Imagine you are Sara, an Analytics Team Manager who just worked over the weekends with her team to deliver an important piece of analysis that her business team requested. This work took about 2 weeks to finish, and you communicated regularly with your business contact, Margaret, to understand what was needed.

The initial working relationship with Margaret was a little rocky: She wanted the raw data and didn’t want your team’s help to analyze it. That not really your team’s role, as raw data can easily be misinterpreted and your reputation would be on the line if anything were to be misrepresented. You told Margaret that your team doesn’t just hand over raw data, so you will have to work together on the analysis. You have a long-term relationship with Margaret’s boss, Steve. He agreed with you, so Margaret reluctantly agreed.

Finally, on Monday afternoon, you and your team sat down with Margaret to go through the final results of your team’s work; the executive presentation that needs this data is on Wednesday morning. The meeting on Monday afternoon with Margaret about the results seems to have gone well. She asked a few questions and then took the results. You told her to feel free to clarify anything once she had the chance to review it in detail. However, you hear nothing the rest of the week.

The following Monday morning, you attend your regular meeting, which includes your boss (Sheryl), Margaret’s boss (Steve) and yourself. You ask how the executive presentation went, as you never heard more about it from Margaret. This is what Steve tells you:

“Sarah, I am really disappointed in you. We have worked together for more than 5 years, but in light of the last few months, I no longer consider you a trusted partner. We cannot depend on you or your team for good analytical support any more. We couldn’t use the data you gave us in the executive presentation, as it was incomplete.”

If you were Sarah, how would you respond?  Add your answer and comments below.

Q1: If you were Sarah, what would you do next?

  1. Apologize for disappointing Steve.
  2. Get angry and defend yourself.
  3. Ask more questions to find out where this is coming from.
  4. Storm out of the room.
  5. Stay calm and tell your side of the story.

Q2: Did you suspect something may be wrong? Yes or no.

I look forward to hearing what you would do in this situation.  Here is how Sarah actually responded

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One thought on “Back-stabbed At Work – What Would You Do?”

  1. Hi Lei,

    I would do a combination of three and five – ask what exactly was wrong, and then try to calmly explain what happened from my point of view. I think Sarah’s team wasn’t at fault, since they had a positive track record up until then. For their data to be completely unreliable, given their stellar past, seems a bit unlikely.

    Either Margaret was being arrogant, or she really wanted to screw over the team. Arrogant, either in the sense that she wanted to prove that she could do this all by herself, or in the sense that she wanted to prove that she was better than a whole team of data analysts. If she wanted to screw the whole team over, I can’t help but wonder what her motivation would be.

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