Have you ever felt the sting of betrayal at work? Picture this - you're mentoring a colleague, only to have them use personal information against you for climbing the corporate ladder. This unfortunate reality impacts many of us, eroding trust and team morale. In our latest episode, we unpack the implications of such toxic work environments and share a personal story where a lack of trust led to a dramatic fallout.
But there's a way out! In the second half of our chat, we reveal a potent self-defense tool - tracking your work and documenting professional conversations. A simple practice that can shield you from false accusations and foster a trustful workplace. We wrap up the episode with insights on cultivating a culture of trust within a team, underscoring proactive measures to prevent such unhealthy dynamics. Listen in, and let's build a healthier, trust-filled workspace together.
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How's it going? Everyone, this is another security, unfiltered mentorship episode. Man, the week really flew by. Was not expecting, I guess, wednesday to come this quickly and we have to, you know, post another episode and record and everything else like that. But here we are. You know, I took the month of September off from doing mentorship episodes, but here we are. So today, you know, I want to talk about, I guess, a poor situation that I have experienced and someone that I've mentored has experienced, because I think that this is more of a it could be more of a common issue that people are not realizing and they're kind of getting screwed out of promotions because of it. So you know what do I mean when I say this, right? So this is the situation. This individual that I was mentoring am mentoring, you know, I think he potentially overshared a few things with a coworker and that coworker ended up using it against him behind his back, went to the director of his department and used that information to, you know, really bolster himself to get a promotion over the person that I mentored and he was mentoring over his coworker. You know, unfortunately, this happens, you know, and it's also kind of up to the manager or the director, right, who's ever in charge, to really put a stop to these sorts of things? You know, teammates should not be using information against other teammates to bolster their own career and promote their own career. If there is, you know, a cover up of some sort, then you should absolutely be telling someone. But you shouldn't be using that in a way to bolster your own career. You know, your time will come, you will get that promotion that you want and whatnot. But you shouldn't be out to stab people in the back. You know, just to get a promotion to go a little bit further in your career at this company and whatnot, it really burns a lot of bridges. It burns more bridges than it actually makes. I'll give you an example. So earlier on in my career I started at a company who's an extremely fast paced team and I was told hey, this is, you know, the person that will be mentoring you. You know, in the first couple months, right, you can go to this person and get whatever information you want from them. You know they'll be able to point you in the right direction and help you and guide you and lead you. And so I assumed, right, very early on in my career I assumed that I could just blindly trust this person that you know I could tell them when I was struggling in a certain area of the technology, of understanding it and whatever might be. I Trusted that I could bring issues and concerns to this person Right, because this is the person I'm supposed to be trusting, you know. And so when issues and concerns inevitably came up, things along the lines of configuration of the tool, the Configuration was making the solution go down and slow down significantly and have a lot of different issues, you know that I Trusted that this person would not use that stuff against me and Eventually, slowly but surely, it started to come out right that these that I had these issues with the product, that I had these issues potentially with the team and what, not Not really with the team, but just how it was being run, and Caught me off guard when my manager Brought it up to me because I had never mentioned it to him and it really, you know, started to deteriorate the team morale overall, because it wasn't I wasn't the only person that that was happening to. This individual that you know I was supposed to be going to for advice and guidance and whatnot was also Supposed to be giving advice and guidance to the other 10 or 12 people on the team, and and each other person on the team had the exact same experience where they told this person something of a concern and issue, whatever, and they assumed that this person, you know, wouldn't go and, just, you know, blab it to the manager, right, that you would actually maybe work together, find a way to you know, address it with the manager or whatnot. That wasn't the case at all. This individual had meetings after hours with the manager and and this person would, just you know, discuss Everything that happened throughout the day behind the scenes with the manager. You know, and that that breaks a significant layer of trust, right. When you are an individual contributor, when you're not a manager and you're on a team, you assume it is just that you're on a team. I can rely on the person across from me, I can rely on the person to my left, to my right, to help me with things. To you know, prioritize the different work for all of us to you know, jump on a problem when it's needed, you just assume that these people are people that you can go to and trust, you know, and rely on, and and when you start going behind people's backs and giving you know information to the manager that People didn't expect to be told or heard by anyone else. They just needed Input or feedback from someone else. That creates a problem. And Then to compile this problem, the person that everyone was was going to for this advice or this mentorship level role she would also or this person would also, you know, always pretty much agree with our concerns and whatnot our concerns and our issues. But then behind the scenes you know it's projected in a different way Than what all of us witnessed and experienced with this individual, and so that really ruins the motivation of the team, because now the team doesn't trust other people within the team. They don't. They could very easily not feel motivated to continue working and improving and getting better and doing good work, doing work on time. This is exactly what happened in my situation and in the individuals situation that I've been mentoring, where you know it immediately turns into a situation where you know you no longer trust the manager, you no longer trust your teammate. You feel that there is a not just a glass ceiling, but like a brick ceiling above you that, no matter what, you're not going to get above because of the political dynamics within the team now and and it's really up to the manager to be able to put a stop to this and I've seen it where managers will Say that this doesn't exist on their team, that they eliminate that from the conversation and whatnot. And I've seen it where those same managers turn around and reinforce it Right, so it's like it's it's not welcome from you. It's only welcome from this trusted source that I have on the team that everyone else is supposed to trust. And I've had it where managers have actually, you know, truly said right that they do not encourage, that, they don't want that on their team, or anything like that. And then they, they, they enforce that. You know, if someone is trying to, you know, backstab a teammate or whatnot, they put a stop to it right in the very beginning, stop the conversation and say, hey, you shouldn't be, you know, attacking your team like this. You need to be a team, you need to be, you know, a unified front, because if you are not unified, you, you will not be doing good work and we need you to be doing good work, and it's a very frustrating situation, right. I've talked about politics and internal Dynamics on this podcast before, and it's always a complicated topic. It's always really difficult to navigate Because you can get into a place where you don't know who to trust, you don't know who to bring it to, and you know what you're going to do and you may see no progress right. And so trying to figure out where all these lines are leading world where everyone's allegiances, you know our pointing Is extremely difficult and it puts a huge trust issue within the team, within the employees of. You know you could easily go into a mentality of well, I can't trust anyone. I can't even trust my manager's manager because he's more, you know, tied to my manager. Then he has tied to me and so they're going to protect each other no matter what, and so I'm in a poor situation. I'm not saying that that was a situation that I was in, but it's absolutely a scenario that you know you could be thinking through in your head While you're going through this, and that is not right. You know no one should have to go to work every day and Not be able to trust their team, not be able to trust the people that are right in front of them. You know working with them every single day. You know the result of that is, that the team is not going to last very long. You know, I'll tell you this for sure within 12 months of everyone on the team finding out what this individual was doing, all 12 of us left, not just the team. We left the company within 12 months of each of us finding out and so that that entire team was rebuilt and, from what I understand, it still has not even recovered Because it took such a significant loss. And then, several months later, after everyone left, that manager had then left and of course, he brought this other individual with him because he needed that in on the team to get that information, to get that intel right, to understand the team a little bit better. I can, I can understand it if they're coming from a perspective of getting know the team a little bit better right, understanding the dynamics within the team and whatnot, but not using it against your own team. That is, that's a terrible thing, right? That's. That's a really shitty thing to do to any team or individual is where you start using, you know, these backdoor conversations that were meant to be between two people. You start using them, when you weren't included, against your own, your own team against that person or whatnot. It's not good not good for team morale. I think the reasons behind that is very obvious, right, and so what's? What's the advice? Right? How do you get over this? How do you move past this? So, really, you know there's three options, right? Option one you can stay in this role. You're probably not going to get promoted ever. You're probably, you know, going to be looked down upon not by your peers, but by, you know, the person that got the promotion, by the person that is your manager or whatnot like. They'll look at you differently and they're always going to have a skewed view of you. Option two would be to transfer to another team. So you could very easily run into the same situation if that manager starts talking to your new manager and, you know, plants various seeds of doubt in their head, right, which can also lead to you being fired, which which is a situation you know one wants. You know that's. That's not anything that anyone would ever want. Or you know option three, which I personally think is the best option you go to another company. You know that this is the thing in IT. The IT world, the IT market overall, is typically pretty competitive. It's pretty hot. There's a lot of companies out there that have a lot of openings. Even right now, in this crazy market where we have 8.5% interest rates on mortgages, where unemployment is not going up like people would expect, where credit card debt is significantly increasing I think it's at the highest level it's ever been at there's a lot of different factors coming into play in this current market and, that being said, there's a whole lot of openings out there, which is really telling. You know, these skill sets are in high demand, irrespective of the market. They still need someone to run their IT systems, right, they still need someone to secure them, and if you're in cyber security, it'll be even easier for you to find another job. It's pretty easy, and so I would recommend right what? What I did was I actually ended up finding another job, and this individual that I mentored he is also now looking for another job. But you know, when you're in that situation right, because it takes time. It takes time for you to come to the realization hey, I have to leave, I've changed jobs. It takes time for you to come to that realization, but once you see it happening, it'll actually be really important for you to track your time, and this was something that you know someone, someone taught me and I didn't think there was anything to it, I didn't think that there would be any value to it or anything like that but they they, you know really Forced me, forced my hand, into tracking my time right, hour by hour. Where did I work on for the last hour, you know? And just writing it down. Write down you know the status of it, write down the project that it correlates to and all the other unique details with it, why it was important, anything like that. Now, the reason why you're doing that is to actually show a record of your work right, because the case is being built against you saying, potentially, you're not good enough for this role, you're not good enough for this promotion, you're not doing enough work, you're not doing the right things, you're not prioritizing your work right, and it turns into their word against your word. And so you need that evidence To be able to stand up for yourself. Right, it's one thing for you to, you know, say it, but it's another thing for it to be in writing and for you to have it readily available, you know, ready to go right. That's a very different thing, and you know so. I used this actually because, due to all of this you know, side talk or back talk, right, that was going on my manager started to question where I was allocating my time and I immediately had my time tracker for the past, you know, 12 weeks, like, hey, every hour of the day is tracked in this thing. You can see when my work day ends, when I go home, when I log back in in the in the night. You know, because I'm logging in every single night, five, six nights a week. You can see all that stuff. And so when he started to question my prioritization, my work, whether I was actually working on the projects that I was supposed to be working on, he couldn't question the time tracker. Because who else, who would really, you know, fraudulently put that together for three months, right, just cataloging every single hour and Having proof behind all of it? You know you should be saving these emails where you know you voiced concern, where, where you, you know, addressed an issue and whatnot. You shouldn't be deleting any emails like this or anything like that. You know, because when it, when it comes down the line and someone's using it against you, you need to be able to have that proof of saying no, I actually stated this. You know this is what I stated. Did you want me to state it a different way? Right, and that's a. That's a good way to go about it as you're looking for this new job. You know it's a, it's a difficult situation, that's for sure. It's not a pleasant situation by any means, but it is, you know, a situation that you can absolutely come, come across and that you probably will. You know, there's probably a lot of people out there that have come across this issue in their own career, in their own job and whatnot. Potentially not even you know insecurity, right, like it could be a different domain of IT or whatever. But at the end of the day, you know, the buck stops at the manager. So, if the manager, you know, allows that sort of activity to take place on the team, within the team, against the team, if they allow that sort of thing, you're not going to have very good will or trust with that team. You're not going to have a very good team that trusts each other, you know, that wants to work with each other. Because it got to a point where we didn't want to work with this person, right, we don't want to talk to them, we didn't want to see them, didn't want to be around them. When we were tasked with, you know, working with this person, we wouldn't say anything and there would be prying questions and we just wouldn't acknowledge them, we wouldn't respond to them, and that was the entire team as a whole. We would do that. So you know enough about the drama, right? You know I don't want to belabor this point, but you know, I thought that it was valuable to bring up because, being in this industry, you'll probably come across it and if you don't know how to handle it, you could handle it really poorly and divulge much more information and keep going with it, and it only makes things worse and really the best solution is to cut off communication and just find another job, because that team is probably a pretty shitty team, that manager is probably not that good and you should absolutely, you know, be looking for the best opportunity for yourself, because no one else is going to be looking out for you other than you. All right, guys, with that, that's all that I have for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you enjoy this podcast, please leave a like, a review, subscribe on YouTube. All of that is much appreciated. For now, see you guys.