January 15, 2008
I would bet a lot of good, hard-earned money that every one of us has a story to tell about a co-worker who was always stabbing people in the back. And I am no different.
I “retired” my first time in 1999, although I knew I would go back to work; and I did. I worked for another eight years before I entered permanent retirement, although there are some in my family that question whether or not I will stay retired (I like working). And during my working life, I met many people who I termed “back stabbers”. But it is the one at my last job that I talk about here.
I am very glad I went back to work after my first retirement, or at least glad that I went to work where I did. My first couple of weeks at the new job I kept asking myself “what the hell am I doing here?” But after I got into the swing of things, I became very happy, not only with my work, but more so with the people I worked with. What a great bunch of people. They really capitalized on the term “team work”. This team work concept was a main stay of the company and was supported from the top down. I was a contractor to the company, but I was treated just as well as any employee, in some cases even better. On a couple of occasions they tried to hire me, but I kept insisting I would not stay that long. There were very few people that I didn’t become friends with while working there, and many of us stay in touch today.
After about three years of working there, the company hired some new people. One of them came to work in my group. I give him the name of “new hire” here. I was asked to give him his first tour and introduction to our group and equipment. Within the first thirty minutes, I got my first inclination of what to expect. Practically every thing I tried to tell him about the equipment, he would take over my sentence and attempt to complete it for me. This included when I was introducing him to equipment that he had never seen in his entire life. Immediately, he was trying to imply that he already knew at least as much as I knew, although I had over thirty years of experience on the equipment. And he wasn’t correct even once in his assumption of what I was trying to say.
It didn’t take long before most of his co-workers were starting to talk about him in a negative kind of way. This wasn’t something I was use to hearing from those people. In less than six months, the real problems started. Within a year, the “team” concept in our group was very much in jeopardy. At the end of two years, the team concept was all but gone. The new hire had literally stabbed every single one of his co-workers in the back at one time or another, and he was one that demanded everything be done his way. Needless to say, this was creating an extremely bad environment. Without exception, everyone agreed that this negative environment was created solely at the hands of the new hire. The back stabbing had become extremely aggressive. He was not a young man; he was middle age. And I believe he saw this job as his last chance to elevate himself to a management position within a company, and he felt he didn’t have that many years left to accomplish that. Promotions was first and foremost on his mind, and to him, the end justified the means.
Not being an “employee”, I was at liberty to do and say some things that a regular employee could not do or say. And one of those things was look into an employee’s past. I had a lot of friends in the industry, and I was able to call on those friends. What I found out about this new hire was that he basically had been “invited” to resign from his last job of many years. Evidently, he had used the same tactics at his last job and had gotten that promotion he so cherished. However, after less than a year, all the people who worked for him rebelled; they went to upper management and basically told them that it was either him or them. Of course, management already knew about the problem; they had just been ignoring it hoping it would go away. But it didn’t and they had to do something about it. So he was demoted, and eventually a mutual agreement of separation with the company ensued.
I have often wondered what makes people this way, and this case was no different. Screwing fellow employees and “friends” had to start someplace. Now I can’t say exactly where and how this guy started, but not long before I retired another employee related a story that this new hire had told on him self. To me, this story told me just about every thing I needed to know about the new hire.
The new hire was from a northern state that got a lot of snow each winter. And each winter he and his brother would take their snow shovels and earn money shoveling snow for people. Something to be admired, for sure. This shows initiative and the willingness to earn what you get. But it was this particular story he told about shoveling snow that brought everything to bear on the new hires attitude.
One day he and his brother were walking down the street with their snow shovels looking for work. They noticed some other kids shoveling a man’s car out of the snow. The man was sitting in his car with the motor running waiting for the kids to finish. By the time the new hire and his brother got there, the other kids were almost finished. But they ran up and shoveled a couple of shovel full’s of snow anyway. Then the new hire ran around to the drivers’ door and knocked on the window. The driver rolled down the window and gave him fifty dollars and said to split it with the other kids. The new hire grabbed his brother and they ran off down the street. They split the fifty dollars and the new hire said they were laughing about how they had screwed the other kids out of the money.