Well over a decade ago we became victim of a white collar crime. Our then CFO was ultimately convicted of stealing money from our organization. If that was not bad enough, the individual had been a really good friend of mine. Well, at least I had thought so at the time.
The news of the apprehension and later the trial were actually really traumatizing. How could this have happened without me, or anyone else for that matter, noticing a thing? What a break in personal trust this had been! I was devastated. For a while it was really tough to trust anyone. Why would anyone do such a nasty thing in the first place? I had so many questions. Along the way regaining composure a few tips emerged that may be able helping you get over the distrust that ensues after such an event:
- Try finding out what really happened. Dig deep. Dig really deep. Find out what exactly happened and especially how and under which circumstances your incident could have happened. Make sure to journal about this such that you can always refer back to your findings.
- Park your bitterness. Tough to do and easy to talk about it when it does not affect you. When someone close to you does you wrong things can get personal really quick. As that happens emotions can spiral out of control easily. Make an active point of forgiving that person and make sure that you do not let you get bitter. Pick a better time to be angry, but keep it short, really short. Get on with your life.
- Put in safeguards that will protect you in the future. Now that you know what and how it happened, put safeties in place such that something like it cannot happen again.
- Start reaching out again. Go ahead, mingle with people. Perhaps there are other folks who were hurt just as badly as you did. Connect with them, but do not forget about any other close folks to you. Shared sorrow is half the sorrow.
- Give it some time. Time does indeed heal almost any wounds you sustain. After a while you will start trusting people again. Trust is good. Trust is so important that you must make the effort to get back into a healthy zone of delegating, collaboration, etc.
There is probably no sure fire way protecting you from significant stress and heart ache when people whom you trust betray you. You cannot afford to avoid people in the long run. Limit your exposure and risk, but make sure that you go out amongst people and learn to trust again as quickly as possible.
PS: Please let me know if you need a list with protection mechanisms that should be in place when hiring and managing your key C suite people, but especially your CFO.