Monday 19 November 2007

we gotta take the power back.....

I hate office politics.

I'm not that big on the office full stop, but I certainly can't be doing with those people who play games. I go to work, I do the best that I can and then I go home. On the whole, I like to think that people are essentially decent and honest and that very few will actually go out of their way to deliberately do somebody else down so that they can get ahead. Perhaps I'm being naive, but it's certainly the way I try and behave when I'm in the office: treat other people as you would wish to be treated yourself. There will be times when you disagree with people and when people have perhaps messed things up, but I don't think anybody gains anything by slinging mud and stabbing people in the back. We are where we are, so let's all just get on with it, eh?

I'm working on a massive, multi-gabillion pound merger at the moment, and inevitably the whole project is a nest of snakes jockeying for position, from the king cobras all the way down to the adders. I try to stay out of this as much as possible, but over the last few weeks I have found myself in a position where I think that someone is trying to build up their own position at my expense. He's a nice enough chap, I suppose, but I first thought he was up to something when he decided to take the opportunity in a very public forum to tell me that "technically, if you look at the organogram, you work for me...". It was nonsense, of course, and he was smiling when he said it, but he was very clearly trying to flex his muscles and exert authority over me. I ignored him. I needed nothing from him and was utterly disinterested in getting involved in a pissing contest with him.

Ignoring him didn't work though: he didn't go away and he kept on niggling away and trying to score points and shift accountabilities and stupid, petty things like that. All of this started to come to a head at the end of last week when I presented a plan of how to move forwards with one particular set of systems. I'm an expert in this system. It is my key accountability. I understand the business priorities and had proposed a way that we could deliver what they needed in the timescales they needed it.

My plan was poo-pooed. At first I took a deep breath and took the trouble to run him through the proposal in person, carefully answering all his questions and listening to his concerns. I thought we had made some real progress and were finally pulling in the same direction..... and then he got back to his office and fired out an email, copying in everyone naturally, pulling apart my proposal and raising all kinds of phantom issues. It made me angry because I'm not trying to play games here; I'm not trying to position myself. I'm simply trying to move things forwards as best I can. I neither need nor deserve to be slapped down like a child by someone who hasn't even troubled themselves to understand the issues.

Right. You've asked for this.

I have spent all day today working my way around the key stakeholders and business sponsors of this project. Using only careful, rational language, I have explained why my proposal is the only sane way forwards and how it will meet their key requirements. I have not spent my time running this other guy down - only taking people through what I genuinely believe is the best way forwards. Because I have spent a lot of time working on this over the last two years, I am in a position where I know this system, I know the business requirements and objectives and I know the key decision makers. This numbnuts who is trying to play politics with me does not know any of these things. He does not even have a credible alternative suggestion as to how we might proceed.

In short, he has it coming.

He's travelling up to my office tomorrow to deliver what he thinks will be the coup de grace.

My prediction? My prediction is PAIN.


  1. I've noticed it happening more and more, and generally its by people who don't have a clue, but feel that pushing against minimal resistance will get them rewards. That "minimal resistance" is sadly the person who least likes to play Office Games and just gets the job done.

  2. If it was even half as well thought out as the open letter you wrote to a friend of ours from 'back in the day,' then my prognosis is for much pain!


  3. I hate the sneaky way that people copy others into emails. My absolute pet hate is when someone sends me a message asking me to carry out a task, and copies my manager in. Why? Because they think I'm not responsible enough to do it without him being involved? Or just to show how busy and important they are? Grrrr.

  4. UGH!!!

    I dealt with a boss who was like that before. One of those people that liked to put others down so that they felt superior... when all I wanted was to do my job as well as possible and go home.

    Of course I was also well known for my bosses being fired, leaving the company, or transferring. =D

  5. Cat: Office Politics is mostly about who you know and how much noise you can make. People cc your managers because they want to make noise, plus it makes your managers conscious that they are making a "statement" about your work.

    The correct response to this is to send a Reply To All, cc'ing their managers - you could even cc the CEO, stating that with so much interest, with so many people involved, maybe this issue should be turned into a Project, and taken off your hands...

  6. It sounds as though this man is feeling pretty insecure.

    How is the situation progressing?