Karin’s Leadership Articles

What Your Team Is Saying Behind Your Back

by | Jun 8, 2016 | By Karin Hurt, Winning Well |

Have you ever talked about your boss behind your back? If you haven’t complained to at least someone…you’re a saint. Call me. I’m sure you’ve got some wisdom we can share here at LGL.

For the rest of us… you know… right? Just like you’re complaining about that boss who (you might even like a lot of the time) has behaviors you wish they would improve–SOON.  And chances are you haven’t told them.

Here’s the real deal. No matter how wonderful you are, I guarantee you, your team is talking about you (in some way that would surprise you) too.

How do I know this? Well, in addition to all the barrage of stories I hear from the companies I work with, the classroom full of MBA students who attended my Managing Difficult People elective all have one thing in common. Despite the advertised name of the class, guess who 100% are there to talk about? Yup. You guessed it. The inapproachable “jerk” who is their boss. As we dig in, he’s never that bad. #justsaying #letmehelp

That’s the spirit behind Winning Well. No one leads in a soul sucking way on purpose.  David Dye and I are on a mission to help you (and your bosses and your direct reports) lead better.

Sure it’s hard. You and your bosses are sandwiched between all kinds of competing priorities. And it’s tricky to think about how to do it right.

But it can also be made much easier by learning some extremely practical tools and techniques (this is a 2 minute video).

I promise you. A little bit of quality leadership development is worth the investment.

If you haven’t downloaded a FREE chapter of Winning Well, accessed the free toolkit, or taken the free online assessment, click here to get started. 

If you just want to talk for an hour (my dime) about why you’re a Winning Well leader or areas you’re looking to improve please contact my awesome assistant, Beth at [email protected] and she will get something scheduled.

I know we can help. And we have a wide range of solutions for every budget, including our newly released Winning Well online course.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. LaRae Quy

    I love this Karin because YES, we’ve all been guilty of 1) talking behind our boss’s back, and 2) been the one who’s talked about! And while it’s a bit of a cultural norm to complain about the boss, it can lead to big trouble if you’re the boss and aren’t aware of the criticisms around you. I’ve discovered that three things work well for me: 1) cultivating real relationships with my team left them more willing to honestly share their doubts or concerns about a direction that I may be taking; 2) letting go of ego and developing enough self-awareness that I could sense how I was coming across to my team; and 3) asking for feedback in a way that indicated I was serious about their response. Great topic!

    • Karin Hurt

      LaRae, Thanks so much! I’ve been on both sides of it too. Love your advice here!

  2. Tom Green

    Karin, I just came across your blog and this particular post. There’s no way to stop people from talking about us behind our backs–employees or any other relationship. But we can invite others to say more to us directly–about their concerns, ideas, needs, etc. And then honor them by listening and expressing our gratitude.

    Thanks for sharing your insights!

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks, Tom! Great point. The more we invite candid dialogue, the less people feel like they want to gossip.

  3. Ema

    Sometimes, I like to believe that my team doesn`t do that.. talking behind my back.. Right now I have a great team and we get along preety well.. Am I naive to think that there is no such thing as talking behind me? 🙂

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks Ema, It’s likely they are not, particularly if you’re focused on being a Winning Well manager 😉 My best advice is to ask them one-on-one for feedback. What’s one thing I’m doing that is helpful as a leader? What is one thing I could do differently to be more helpful? Once they give you one, you can say, THANK YOU… anything else?

  4. Ema

    Thank you Karin. Actually I do that already and I think that`s why they don`t feel the need to talk behind my back. They know I am open to listen, to hear them and I value their feedback. 🙂 Communication is key indeed.
    Great job on your blog!

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