The Back Stabber

Another update from the Jungle….

backstabMarcella was happy to find a friend like Barry when she joined her new employer. He seemed like such a nice guy, interested in mentoring younger co-workers like her. Barry was a big help to her as she navigated the internal politics of her new employer.

Gradually over the months, Marcella talked about her children and she even gave Barry a few details about her messy divorce.   A female co-worker warned Marcella that Barry’s nice guy image was barely skin deep. Marcella dismissed the comments as sour grapes because the co-worker had been bounced from Barry’s team due to poor performance.

Then Marcella disagrees with Barry about how to solve a problem on their team project. Barry first tries to shame Marcella
in front of the other team members by explaining that he has so much more experience than her, his solution is the best. When Marcella refuses to back down, the matter escalates to their boss who agrees with Marcella’s solution to the problem.

A week later, the boss stops by Marcella’s office to ask if everything is okay at home. He assures her backthat she can have time off to go to court to deal with her son’s drug problem. Marcella’s shocked; her son doesn’t have a drug problem. Other co-workers stop by during the next few days to offer support.

Marcella remembers confiding to Barry several months ago that she was worried about some of her son’s friends. During that conversation she also said she was happy that her son’s school invited a community outreach police officer to talk to the students about the consequences of drug use. Marcella thinks that Barry twisted this information because he is mad about losing their disagreement on the team project.

What should Marcella do next?

  1. She can confront Barry to ask if he is the source of the rumor and then emulate Dolly Parton in “9 to 5” (threatening to change him from a rooster to a hen).
  2. She can complain to an HR representative but she has no proof Barry started the rumor and it’s not clear that any employee policy has actually been violated.
  3. She can avoid Barry as much as possible and never confide personal information to him again.

In the actual situation, the backstabbing employee eventually alienated so many employees that he became completely isolated. When the company downsized, he was the only employee not invited to join co-workers as they found new employers.

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