I saw this post about how to confront a back-stabber and all these warm fuzzy thoughts came back to my head about being stabbed in the back by a former colleague at the Canada Revenue Agency.
I hoped this article would give me all kinds of ways in which I could get even should the situation arise again, or given me some insight into how to handle myself professionally should our paths ever cross again because I hate confrontation just for the sake of confrontation. I’m absolutely not going to seek her out to have a conversation with her.
The article, however, focuses on talking to the back-stabber in a non-threatening environment, and reminds the reader that a back-stabber act this way because they are insecure and that possibly they do this to protect a friend, or because they are finally in a position of power and don’t fully understand the repercussions of their actions. The recommended approach takes the emotion out of the confrontation and provides a safe environment to let that person know you are on to their deceptive ways.
Here is the Coles notes version of my story;
While working for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) I had applied for many management positions in the almost 11-years that I worked there, but was never chosen to be a permanent Team Leader / Manager. Many times it was because there were employment equity guidelines to meet, and as I was told, as a “white male” I would always be near the bottom of the list until our representation was met.
At first, I understood, but as I progressed and moved up in the CRA, it bothered me that I could “act” as a Team Leader, and I could manage teams but never permanently, as once I completed my MBA the decision made even less sense.
A Managerial position had posted in a different tax office, and I met all the criteria. It would have been a new challenge, new people, new office, a fresh start and it would have been managing staff which I was quite good at, so I applied.
I was contacted right away by their HR representative which is unusual (to get into the CRA was an 11-month process)and she told me that I was by far the best candidate, and she asked me for 3 references.
I chose them, but in the process of checking them, the HR representative contacted my new Team Leader, who had been managing my team for only 6-weeks. Not only that but she had been away from the office for 2-years on maternity leave and while she was gone, she had completed her qualifications, written the test and been selected to become the TL.
I was okay with that because when she joined the CRA, I had trained her and her friend and I had managed her on a couple of occasions. In fact, prior to her return, I had been leading the team – handling any escalations, addressing staffing matters, set up the goals and objectives for the team and leading the team meetings.
When she arrived, I gave her all the information and took a step back. She booked a meeting with me right away, sought out my opinions and asked me to continue helping out with the day-to-day operations, which I did.
Then after 6 weeks, she was gone. Nobody knew where she went or what had happened to her, but I later found out that she left to accept another position (and she didn’t even telling the team), so the Assistant Director appointed another team leader to run our team, and she booked a meeting with me and asked me to continue to run it for her.
Sounds okay, right.
Here is where it gets wacky.
Since it takes ages for government processes to run their course, 5 or 6 months had passed when I was approached out of no where by a colleague about a rumour that she had heard that I was not going to get this position because this outgoing TL had told the hiring board that I was a terrible leader.
How this colleague even knew I had applied was a shock to me.
Silly as it seems (and those of you never having worked in government you may think this is all crap, but it is SO true and happens all the time) so I called HR, who told me that a “better candidate was selected”.
I waited until the posting was public and realized the candidate had nowhere near the experience, or education that I had, and clearly HR made this decision because of what the TL said.
It bothered me, but I was now looking for roles in the private sector, and found one as the Tax Manager of a large Transfer Agent. Upon leaving the CRA, I requested access to all of my records and in doing so I was given a copy of the written reference that this TL provided to the board.
It was a joke.
In the area that asked if I had ever led a team formally or informally, she said “no”.
In the area where it asked if I had any experience with goals or objectives, she said “no”.
Under the last area asking if I was good with people and would – in her opinion – be able to lead a team, she said, “no”.
And as such, due to her treating this matter like it was a big high-school joke – I was denied this position.
I wanted to confront her but not because I hold a grudge but because with the casualness this woman lied to the hiring board, I wanted her to know that I knew what she had done. If she can lie to her employer with such ease, she must be able to do the same to her children and her family.
I wonder how she would feel if that happened to her, or her kids?
I also wanted to let her manager know the situation but it would have all seemed so petty and was not worth my time, stress and effort.
But what would I say? I’m an emotional guy and while this really upset me at the time, it bothered me more because it’s not right, it wasn’t fair and it was wrong.
Thankfully this article gave me some suggestions. Now I know.
I’ll update this post if I ever run into her again!