“An act of deliberate disloyalty, to be false, to breach confidence, a violation of trust”
Ugly word isn’t it? Betrayal. So much venom, poison and dark intentions yet it exists. I am sure that in our good human hearts we would like to believe that no one would set out to betray another intentionally. After all the feelings it leaves those reeling with are in no way positive and can be raw, damaging and upsetting. Quite often a deliberate act of betrayal can affect a wider circle that the direct victim.
So with this in mind, we turn our attentions to employers who commit betrayal to their staff. When changes are made to the operational side of a business it can feel like a breach of trust has been committed, when a CEO departs it can feel like desertion, another form of betrayal even if the reasons are good, when contractual terms are imposed this can be viewed with suspicion and cynicism if the benefit is not properly communicated. An employees’ commitment doesn’t feel valued, their skills unappreciated, their efforts meaningless.
Betrayal can occur because employees have become highly engaged with a business and suddenly lose it often through no fault of their own. Employee engagement is very hard to achieve, but once in place it is tremendously valuable. To be clear employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs and put discretionary (extra) effort into their work. If sufficiently engaged employees will advocate the business to others attracting them to work for the business, such is their passion. Of course like a good reputation, engagement can be eroded very quickly and that which took years to develop can quickly disappear leaving a culture in tatters and reputation destroyed. The recruitment becomes difficult because attraction is so hard. “Your reputation precedes you Sir.”
So how do you deal with this?
On a personal level there is no silver bullet that is for sure, however there are measures that can be taken to protect oneself from the fallout of these feelings of employer betrayal.
- Avoid blame. It doesn’t help the situation, instead take a healthy selfish approach and look after yourself. What is done is done; move on as quickly as you can. Go through the process of being angry, but keep it controlled as this unproductive state thrives on the eventual negative conversations that happen about the issues and keeps you rooted in a bad place.
- Avoid engaging in conversations that reinforce the negativity again they do not help and are unproductive as are the people that engage in them.
- Get Out! As quickly as you can either get out of the business or move on. But do one of them. The environment can feel toxic and it is important to know that there is life out there and other places and employers that will value you and your work.
- Do not harbour a grudge. Learn from it and keep going, never look back, and kiss it off. Let it go.
- Get a grip. By this I mean try to understand the things that you can and cannot control. Often big decisions have been made way out of your control, and you should look to avoid concern or trying to affect the outcome further. Look instead at those things you can control, the important thing and give yourself time to build you resilience, trust and faith back up so that you feel in a better place, free of the toxic fog.
- Find someone to talk to who can be positive and uplifting, someone who can take you up and away and get you to see the bigger picture more clearly without fear of judgement or over reaction.
- Don’t think everyone is the same and that it will happen again, each employer is different, some are more focused on their people and culture, others are colder more transactional with a focus on output. Find the type of business you want to be part of and embrace it, but always keep your eye on number 1 whist being mindful of the feeling and considerations of others.
- Avoid endless questioning of the situation with questions especially ‘why’ questions. Look at it from a different perspective, as ‘why not?’ and see what comes out. You might surprise yourself.
Often decisions made by employers can be overwhelming to the staff. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason let alone logic as to why it is being implemented. Mostly I would imagine it is down to cold hard cash. It is a fact of life, businesses need it to survive, employees are there to help in the generation of money through their skills, and they are quite literally a human resource. Understand these simple facts and it might go even a little way to helping with these feelings of betrayal.
Final thought. don’t believe that this is the end. It isn’t. Something new is going to happen to you and it will be good. So come on in the waters lovely. Believe me I know, I have been through this too.
Remember Churchill said it best “to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.”