Work hard, do your job and everything should work out well for you. As this OP tells their story, what goes around comes around, so be careful how you treat people and don’t be the backstabbing coworker.
How to Not Get Your Next Job
This is a recounting of a tale that happened some 20 (or more) years ago. It’s long, so expect the TL;DR at the end.
I run an IT consultancy. It was actually some work I got through that consultancy that got me the job offer at the firm where the story takes place. I was appointed as the ‘Head of IT’ and had a team of around 20 staff working in various roles.
Our antagonist is someone I will call “Bill” for this story.
When I started at this organisation, Bill used to work in the facilities department. His job was in danger of being downsized so he applied for an ‘apprentice’ role in the IT department as he was an enthusiast and had a knack with technology.
At first, he was extremely grateful to be given the opportunity and was very hard working which was great. As a result we decided to develop him by sending him on some formal training and improving his prospects for advancement.
He enjoyed rapid promotion and was on his way to becoming a more senior IT professional but then he started to change. Perhaps it was the attention or praise he was receiving or maybe something personality related, I don’t really know, but he began to grumble that he wasn’t being appreciated enough. In particular, he felt he should be paid more as he was so good. Bear in mind, he was being paid the same as other staff who had more experience than he did and who had been working a lot longer in the profession.
Then the real issues started. Most organisations at that time didn’t have IT represented at board level. In my capacity as ‘Head of IT’ I reported into the Finance Director (FD) who sat on the board. It was understood by the FD that I only reported into them for line management purposes (approval for PTO etc) and that, when it came to running the IT in the organisation, they needed to follow my lead and not interfere.
Now this organisation used to go through FD’s once every 2 years or so and whenever a new FD started in the role, Bill would take the opportunity to bitch and complain that he wasn’t being paid his worth. He then started to moan that I was ‘holding him back’ as I (apparently) ‘saw him as a threat to my job.’
He did this with 3 FD’s in a row and reach time, after discussions with me, they realised that Bill had “delusions of competency” and didn’t have the knowledge or experience to which he laid claim. I made it clear to Bill that going behind my back and saying what he was saying was doing him no favours and that, with the best will in the world, there was no way he had the knowledge, experience or ability to do my job and he needed to get more experience and training if he was ever to contemplate taking on my role.
Bill then started an affair with someone in the finance department which resulted in an accidental pregnancy. Bill approached me and said he now needed more money as he had a kid on the way and I told him that his decision to have a kid was not relevant to his job or pay and that it would be unfair to his colleagues, some of whom also had kids, that he was paid more than them. I could tell this rankled him and he pushed it by threatening to leave at which point I bluntly told him that he was welcome to work somewhere else if he was unhappy and that I wasn’t forcing him to work for the company. Realising I called his bluff (he was getting paid way more than his knowledge or experience commanded in the marketplace) he backed down.
But then a new FD started who had the same “delusions of competency” when it came to IT. This FD didn’t like the fact that I was not subservient to them and when Bill did his bitch and moan to this FD he found a willing audience. Somehow, bill managed to convince the new FD that he was competent enough to do my job and that he would be in full agreement with whatever this new FD wanted to do when it came to IT. By this time I was fed up with the whole situation and told the FD that I would not follow their lead when it came to IT matters and if they wanted me out they could pay me off and I would leave.
This is where the backstab came in.
Unbeknownst to me, Bill had managed to get hold of a password to an email admin account (which he was not supposed to have) and had gone into my corporate emails. When I joined this organisation I continued to do some pro-bono (i.e. unpaid / free) advisory work for some charities and non-profits who needed IT advice. Bill took copies of these emails to the FD and then the FD and Bill went to the CEO accusing me of running my own business on company time and using company resources.
The CEO was (understandably) furious and I was immediately suspended (with pay) whilst HR launched an investigation. Both Bill and the FD made my life hell during this period by spreading rumours and innuendo’s about why I was suspended and inferring I was defrauding the company etc.
By the time HR had investigated and found me blameless my reputation inside the organisation was in the toilet. I had a meeting with the HR Director and CEO who basically apologised that they had let things get so out of hand however my position was now untenable due to all the drama and that if I would consider resigning they would provide compensation and a sparkling reference. I agreed, the CEO cut me a check for 6 months salary and both the HR Director and CEO gave me a glowing written reference. Then I was shown the door.
I lost a job I loved and the reputation I had built in this company which stung like a Samuel L. Jackson expression.
Now for the revenge.
Now I had a good relationship with all my old team and they stayed in touch with me once the investigation was over and I had left. Basically, Bill wasn’t given my old job exactly but rather was promoted to “IT manager” which meant he got a pay increase but not as much as I had been getting and he had to do the same amount of work. This becomes important later when it was his turn to suffer.
What most people don’t realise about IT is that we are the keepers of all the organisations information. We have access to everything and we monitor absolutely everything that goes on when you use corporate IT equipment. One of the main reasons IT does this is for audit and compliance reasons and this particular company worked on state contracts meaning they had to comply with state IT audit rules and attend an annual state IT audit committee.
Knowing how to successfully pass a state IT security and information audit is something you don’t just learn from a book or a course, it comes from experience and mentoring from others who have learnt before you and who pass on this knowledge.
The FD knew that an audit was upcoming and believed they could simply pass it easily as they thought it akin to a finance audit. Boy were they wrong.
Bill was given the job of pulling together the data needed for the annual audit and he was massively out of his depth. He tried to solicit help from the rest of the team but they knew to stay the hell away from the situation and basically told him they didn’t know what to do. So what was Bill to do? Simple. He went through my old emails, found the audit response I had submitted the year before, and simply changed the dates and names and passed it on to the FD who submitted it to the state.
What they failed to realise was, as I had previously submitted the IT audits on behalf of the organisation, the state comptroller’s office had called me to ask if I was aware of the recent organisations submission as they had some questions about some figures that were suspiciously similar to the previous years ones. Now I _knew_ there was no way this was possible and basically told the office that a) yest, those figures looked impossible and fraudulent , b) I no longer worked for the organisation, c) had nothing to do with the submission and that if they had any questions to speak to FD at the company as I had nothing to do with it.
Shortly thereafter Bill and the FD had a massive falling out. Not sure what it was about but apparently it was a stand-up screaming match in the office and Bill was fired on the spot for gross insubordination and misconduct. He was frogmarched out of the premises by security wearing a shit-eating grin. Bill wasn’t worried, because Bill had a dream job just waiting for him. More on Bill later.
Back to the FD who decided decided to represent the company at the state IT audit committee. But before that the HR Director called me (I didn’t answer) and left me a voicemail along the lines of “Hi <myname>, I was hoping you could join FD representing the company at the upcoming state audit committee meeting to help address come concerns with this years IT audit. We would be happy to pay you double your old positions daily rate and all travel expenses. It would really be doing us a favour.” I didn’t even bother responding.
To say the result It was a total shitshow would be too much of an understatement. The FD couldn’t explain why this years figures were exactly the same as last years and didn’t even know what most of it meant as they had nothing more than basic knowledge of IT standards and regulations. It became apparent that they were massively out of their depth, that the org had fabricated it’s audit report, and the company lost it’s IT accreditation making them ineligible for state work which accounted for roughly 20% of the business (at the time around $20 million USD.)
As a result FD lost their CPA accreditation for “Discreditable acts” in submitting a fraudulent report and was ‘let go’ as they no longer had the qualifications to be the FD for the company. On LinkedIn they now work as a realtor.
Now to Bill.
Bill had continued to foster an ill placed believe in his capabilities and expertise. He believed he was going to get my old salary when I left and, when he didn’t, he was pissed. So he started looking for another job and he found the perfect role. This job was perfect for someone with his level of experience and expertise and it paid a very generous salary. Bill applied for this job, went through 3 rounds of interview, and was offered the job, subject to a probationary period. So when bill was previously frogmarched out of the building from his old job he was confident he was walking into a brighter future.
What Bill did not know was that the job he was offered was for one of the not-for-profit organisations that I used to do pro-bono work for. I had good relations with the Managing Director of this org and I happened to run into him at a restaurant one evening where he told me he had made an offer to someone who worked at my old company. When he told me it was Bill he must have seen the expression on my face because he probably expected me to be happy about it, not horrified.
He pressed me about it but, not wanting to ruin my Friday night out, told him I would come round his office on Monday to discuss it with him.
Come Monday, I head over to his office and tell him the whole story of Bill and the headache he caused me. The MD was absolutely floored and thanked me for the insight.
And here is the money shot, as MD and I are walking out of the office, who do I see coming in? That’s right, Bill, just getting out of his car, suited and booted for his first day on the job. Across the parking lot he makes eye contact, sees me with the MD, and I like to think, in that instant, he shat his pants.
Truth is, the look on his face was more one of surprise rather than instant pant-soiling horror, and I left without interacting with him but what I do know is he doesn’t work there (as I have been back to help them with IT consultancy and the person in the job now is not Bill.) What I do know is that his LinkedIn profile shows his last job as the company we both worked at and last anybody heard he got a job working IT support for Geek Squad (which would have paid less than half of his original salary when he started in IT.)
And according to his baby-momma, the one who worked in the finance department of the old company, she is still there and every now and then makes a FB post about having to “raise a child alone without no help from no deadbeat man!”[sic]
TL;DR – Got done over by someone I gave a chance to (and my boss) only to have my boss lose their job as a result and the someone lose a golden opportunity due to my revealing of his true nature to their new employer.
The Final Word
Own your responsibilities and don’t mess with the people that you work with. Or you’ll end up unemployed, unfriended and pretty much screwed.