Got Your Back? More Like Stabbed in the...


Today’s Scene: The Ugly Behavior

By Talmar Anderson

Boss BigTime wanted to impress this new client, Client Next Level.  With a freshly closed deal, an opportunity to step into a bigger space within the industry and the potential for a great referral source, Boss BigTime assigned his best, Employee Getting-It-Done, to the account after onboarding the client himself.

3 months into the engagement, Employee Getting-It-Done was being reassigned. And Boss BigTime wasn’t even aware that that was just the beginning of the problems. Employee Getting-It-Done was giving notice on Friday.


Client Next Level asked for a meeting with Boss BigTime and Employee Getting-It-Done. It was a good time for a project review but Boss Big Tme was nervous there was more too it.  The company had just sent the client the first real output from the project.  While there had been some back and forth between Boss and Client as well as Employee and Client, Boss was thinking they were looking all good. Boss really liked the work they had done.

Sure, this was a MUCH bigger project than the company had ever had but Client Next Level did not know that. And it was annoying that Employee Getting It Done kept asking questions that made us look like newbies. Boss put a lid on that and insisted that all communications with the client go through him.

Client Next Level walked in looked Boss straight in the eye and let him know that they intended to terminate the engagement. Client Next Level continued to lay out how the deliverable was completely missing the mark and was far from the result they were looking for on this project.

Boss was horrified but quickly recovered. He explained to Client Next Level that “team members” had suggested they were ready for such a project but had obviously misled Boss BigTime.

Employee Getting It Done was flabbergasted.  Boss was not NAMING him so he wanted to wait until they were alone to ask him who these “team members” were exactly? He stayed professional and kept his composure.

Boss BigTime was smooth and convinced Client Next Level he would sort it all out. Client agreed to give them 2 more months to get on track.

Employee Getting It done quickly asked to speak with Boss but Boss assured him it would be fine and they could talk later.

Employee received the reassignment by email by the end of the day and without further discussion from Boss.

Boss Action!

Today’s lesson: A Boss knows that using a team member as a shield will likely cause the bullet ricochet!

Boss BigTime was unwilling to own up to a big miss on his part. With the pressure of Client Next Level toe to toe calling him out, Boss BigTime crumpled and threw his best Employee Getting-It-Done under that speeding bus. Boss BigTime’s fear of losing a client being prioritized over the team’s reputation or consideration was fatal. This kind of nonsense highlights that it is just a matter of time until the next employee is sacrificed.  With turnover ahead, a reputation for deflecting responsibility and the mistaken prioritizing of client over employee, Boss BigTime’s business is in a downward spiral. 

Yes, Boss BigTime will keep hiring to replace Employee Getting-It-Done  (and the next and the next) but anyone that has hired in the past knows that eventually a Bad Boss will find themselves alone in that gunfight.

Could Boss BigTime have admitted his mistake, apologized to Employee Getting-It-Done and saved the relationship? It is possible with focused and specific energy from Boss BigTime to rebuild trust from the team. A boss that learns the error of their ways is much more likely to have to suffer the hard road of the witnessing employees still trickling out. Employees want a boss that has their back.

Truthfully, the boss that was so quick to do this without thought or consideration for the internal perspective (or ramifications) of his company is unlikely to see the error of their ways. Reflection and self-awareness tend to escape this kind of boss. Employee Getting-It-Done   run! Don’t walk.

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