Give and Take


I saw a post the other day about why would you build your own monitoring application when there are some great commercial packages out there to purchase at a reasonable cost. While that's a debate for another Friday, it got me thinking about how we get purchases approved and what it costs us to do so.

A lot of my friends will joke about using a point system at home. I've also seen it done in various comedy performances in the US that a husband has to "earn" points by doing things for or with his wife. Things that she likes and appreciates. Bringing home flowers for no reason, seeing a movie that suits her better, wallpapering the bathroom, etc. Then he can use those points for things like watching football on Sundays or going out with his friends. It's mostly in fun, but there's an element of truth to it. We all have some type of give and take in our relationships and we're constantly debiting or crediting our balance of points, running a deficit or surplus.

These aren't literal points, meaning there's no chart on the wall to track them, though sometimes I think men might prefer the directness of such an approach.

I don't think it's that much different at work. If you constantly work for the benefit of the company, taking on extra work, on-call, etc. that's beyond your job, you gain some capital from your boss. Or you should and they might forgive you for some other shortcomings because of your hard work. Or they might reward you with always giving you money for a conference, training, etc.

Conversely if you're always asking something from your boss and the company without giving back, you might never get anything when you ask for it. With this being a Friday, I was wondering:

Do You Worry About Political Capital?

I use the term political capital because it's really a political game we all play in managing our interactions with others at work. We trade favors, we negotiate and compromise, and the ability to get things done often is based on whether we're running a surplus or deficit of credits. It's a fluid system that's hard to measure at times, but it's existed in most every place I've worked.

Of course your position in the company often gives you the power to automatically have a surplus of "credits" you can use if you're high enough on the org chart. Providing that you don't abuse that power. Or you could be low enough that you're forever trying to earn credits and living in a deficit.

So getting software purchased, training money, extra time off, etc., do you gain or lose perks and privileges based on captial? Do you worry about it? Or are things completely cut and dried where you are? Let us know!

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