Over the past many years since I began posting a semi-monthly blog there have been a few times when I have addressed being thrown under the bus at work.
In fact, I authored an E-book on this topic … ‘Being Thrown Under the Bus’ (https://thethirdzone.com/download-2/) because this seemed to be so prevalent within the business world. As I review monthly activities in accessing current and past blogs, I have always been struck with the frequency that people continue to do google searches to explore this issue. It became increasingly obvious that this continued to be a frequent occurrence within too many organizations.
This occurs at all levels of a company including senior management, department heads, project leaders and even same-level co-workers. The fact that there are reasons that some tend to impose blame on others doesn’t make it any easier nor does it add anything positive to the job. Realistically, it appears that many tolerate this because they like the organization. Or, they recognize the opportunities they have to do something they enjoy. Maybe they lack the self-confidence to stand up for themselves. Any of these reasons evidently override the unpleasant experiences of viewing the bus from the underside.
What sent the game of ‘throw someone under the bus’ on hiatus?
Here is the interesting twist in this situation. Since COVID-19 became a real and widespread reality, for 15 months the arches pertaining to being thrown under the bus greatly diminished. During these months there have been many issues that have taken precedent and demanded our focus. Some of these include:
- First and foremost was the concern of whether the employing company would be able to stay in business during this time. Thus, would I have a job.
The challenge of working remotely from home … a home now bursting with children attending school … remotely. A partner also needing to work from home. The need to create workspace that would provide the needed focus and atmosphere to allow one to be productive.
- The need for access to all the tools and technology that had been available at the office and that one now needed to successfully be productive at home.
- Adapting to working in a solitary environment that removed actual interface with others and learning to find zoom an acceptable replacement.
- Learning how to juggle the added responsibilities of being home with others present and still being productive in terms of fulfilling the expectations of the job.
None of these issues came with overnight solutions. As a result, they became front burner focuses as we all tried to navigate a road on which we had no experience. For 15 months we longed for the old normal when life would return to what we knew and accepted. And finally, about a month ago, the world began to return to routines we knew. Restrictions were lifted in many states and cities. Thus, companies relaxed their rules and returning to the office at least part-time became a real possibility.
Our choices emerging into OUR new normal
Now, once again, increased searches pertaining to one being thrown under that bus are on the rise. I am so curious.
My question is simple … why? Is it possible that people came to accept this as being part of the job? If COVID taught us anything it is that we have the ability to be thrown into a new situation and left without choice, can adapt. What hopefully we have learned is that we get to redesign the evolving ‘normal’ keeping what things we learned that improved our worlds and reigniting those aspects of our lives that we missed and want back. I doubt that getting hit by a bus is one of these.
In recent weeks there has been much written about the challenges of finding people to fill the many and increasing job openings. To me, this represents a tremendous opportunity to reassess our jobs related to our enthusiasm for both the work and the environment. To the extent that we see a bus waiting for us, isn’t this an ideal time to consider making a change rather than returning to this toxic situation? Here are some reasons that some (perhaps known as backstabbers) tend to put others under the bus.
- They are highly ambitious, but politically unsophisticated. They think making others look small is the fastest path to looking big.
- They want to eliminate competition and believe that publicly challenging their target’s integrity or expertise is a way to make that person vulnerable professionally.
- Their professional qualifications and ability to deliver are in question, so they feel a need to deflect demands for accountability by calling into question the track records of others.
- They are highly insecure and want to diminish the status of those who appear to be more professionally successful.
What we learned is that although there is often no obvious reason for someone finding themselves under the bus, the individual who resorts to doing this has clear motivations to impact how they are viewed and the potential benefits that they believe they will derive as a result.
I get that pre-COVID, there was a tendency on the part of many to tolerate and accept the behavior of the backstabber as ‘part of the job’. And today, what we have experienced and learned is that we can adapt and change as and when demanded of us. Emerging from this pandemic carries with it opportunities. For the employee and with so many organizations looking for qualified help there is the potential of working in an environment that doesn’t tolerate such negative behaviors. For the company, there is the chance to make the bus throwers history and avoid losing valuable talent that attributes to its success. What we now realize more than ever is that we do not need to be stuck in this negative aspect of the old normal. Great choices on all fronts and they are ours to make. Is this worth some consideration?