Give and Take

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 718065

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Give and Take

  • jereme.guenther@gmail.com

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4259

    I would say for the most part I have always been so low in the organisation that I am very grateful for any "points" I get toward buying things like software or tools.

    I have always had good bosses who try and be fair to me and generally get me what I want as long as I can give a good ROI argument. Conversely I have always tried to give 110% on all my projects.

    I guess I have never really thought about it; I just do the best job I can, doing a little extra whenever logical, and hope my efforts are noticed. I have always had trouble asking for things, but my project leader at my current place of work is helping me get more confidence to ask for the tools which will make me more productive.

  • Mike C

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 23224

    Unfortunately for me I've never been good at office politics πŸ™ I see people on the job scheming and plotting to get ahead all the time. While it's incredibly entertaining, I prefer to concentrate on my work when I'm at the office in a sort of "drama-free" zone.

    Also, bringing flowers home unexpectedly can cause more trouble than it's worth. She might start thinking "what's he done to feel guilty about?" Then you're in trouble. πŸ™‚

  • Andy Warren

    SSC Guru

    Points: 119676

    There's politics and there is politics!. What I value is having accrued enough karma (points) that when I ask for something, object to something, want to try something new, etc, my voice is heard. I've found there are two parts to it; the first is that I have to earn trust and work hard to retain that trust, the other is that I have to be seen as thoughtful and willing to compromise when needed. If you don't have both of those you have almost zero influence.

    The good part of politics is understanding that sometimes to build relationships at work with peers (and sometimes superiors, even if not direct report) you have to compromise or even adopt agendas that you may not particularly care for, but helps that person achieve something that they seen as important to the organization. Here's a convoluted example from my own history. At one point our HR team was just killed in meetings because we were losing 20% of new hires in the first two weeks of training. Now if you think about it, it could be they really were hiring 20% bad people, or it could be that they were stretching the envelope trying to make the hires needed for the business to grow and if even one or two worked out, it was worth losing some percentage - still a net gain. I voiced this opinion and coming from an "independent" person it didn't out as defensive as it would from HR. The next step was to volunteer to audit the next group of new hires to see how the entire process worked and to report back. I had a strong feeling the HR team was on track and that the problem was more complex than they were given credit for so it didn't like a risky move to make. Politics, or just good participation? Doesn't hurt to have friends in HR!

    The other kind of politics is just *** kissing, or worse. All leaders are vulnerable to it because leading/managing is hard and you only get credit for the losses, so having anyone tell you that you're doing something good tends to cut through the defenses. But that only goes so far, and not very far at that. Comes back to karma for me, sooner or later the ones that play this game go one step too far and crash - but in the interim life at work can be miserable as you watch some no-talent get the attention/good assignments/etc. Good managers see this fairly quickly and reign it in, bad ones bask in it and encourage it. Can't fix that, just have to leave!

  • jay-h

    SSCoach

    Points: 18816

    Political capital is as old as, no, older than the human species. We can see similar strategic alliances in chimpanzees. Every tribal society runs on a complex set of spoken and unspoken exchanges of capital.

    Something that is so deeply part of our behavior is something that should not be ignored, but there are varied strategies for negotiating it. Knowing the rules of the game, being aware of which alliances are productive and which are not, is probably as important as knowing your 'job'.

    ...

    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • Bob Fazio

    SSChampion

    Points: 10734

    Just one side comment Steve. Althought it is nice to put a face to the name, I suggest that you go back to the pictures of Everyday Jones. πŸ˜‰

    On the real topic however, I have worked in large and small companies. Each has it's own politics.

    When I was younger and a little stupid, I never afraid to say what I really thought thinking that people would respect me and know that they would get the real story from me. When that didn't pan out, I guess I continued doing it more out of protest than because it was helping. The comment I often got was "You are lucky you are good, or your butt would be out the door" All in all, I can't say that it ever hurt my salary, but it did hurt my opportunities to advance within the company. I got a pretty bad reputation of not being able to work with others, but yet I would get great reviews from my coworkers (this was independently verified). So from a politics perspective, I didn't play, and I can't say it really hurt me. However, they never seemed to have any money for us to go to events and such.

    Now as for your points thing. I think that is a very different matter. I did that often. There was actually one time one of my female coworkers was feeling a little depressed. Someone who honestly NEVER was depressed. After asking my wife for the OK, I had flowers delivered to her from the group. I would always help out reguardless of the time of night if needed. (Although I was told by one employee they didn't like calling me because i was grumpy :crazy: when they called me in the middle of the night.

    I guess that even though I am not Wiccan/Pagan I do believe in the

    "3 Fold law" - Whatever you do comes back to you 3 fold. Good or bad. And honestly I have been quite blessed in my life.

  • Matt Miller (4)

    SSC Guru

    Points: 124208

    Sometimes you have to go looking for Karma. Or rather - go hunt it down, shoot it and nail up on the wall for all to see.

    There are ways we can help can gain beaucoup points in every organization. It's usually a matter of packaging. Sometimes we are so understated about what we do and how we do it, that people a. forget that we contribute to the bottom line, and b. how MUCH we put back into the bottom line. Just refocusing that outlook can often enough land you in a much better spot, karma or no karma.

    I was working in a two-person it group about 12 years ago for a large hospital organization. Their systems were very inefficient, and I noticed some things that were getting "stuck" in the billing system, eventually to be written off. After some checking - it was apparent that the problem had been there a while, and noone wanted to "take it on". So I (a lowly peon at the time) went to bat with a "give me some small resources and I will show you I can save you some money" and after MUCH arm-twisting, they actually got us a server. Updated code went in (with the help of a whole bunch of folks) to pull out those stuck bills, identify why they were stuck and what should be done for them to un-stick them.

    At the end of the first year - the system "processed" $48 Million, and has been doing that for the last 12 or so years. Amazingly - after that - I didn't get questioned a whole lot, especially once they figured out that we (yes - all of a sudden there was an actual team) could keep replicating that elsewhere......:)

    In short - make your own Karma. Don't wait for the golden opportunity to just show up. Find it, stalk it, skin it and put it in the old trophy case. Show your worth, and keep reminding them of it. We ARE a money-saving and resource-saving and data-saving role (among other things) - it's just a matter of showing how we are doing that.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part...unless you're my manager...or a director and above...or a really loud-spoken end-user..All right - what was my emergency again?

  • SqlOnMyMind

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5049

    I really like Andy Warren's comments.

    I don't keep track of points either at work or at home. I just give 100% to the best of my ability. I think being able to voice opinions, have people take actions based on your ideas or requests comes from respect, which has to be earned.

    I also believe in a collaborative work environment. By that, I don't mean, having to make compromises when people disagree, but rather, when someone needs help, help. I really dislike office politics, where you can't cross department lines to work jointly on a problem, because of managerial egos, etc.

  • cy-dba

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4149

    As much as some of us hate to admit it, we all are part of the political capital game. It plays a role in all aspects of life. My spouse gives me a lot of space in terms of what I can do in my spare time. Much of that is because I take on most of the domestic responsibilities. At work, my boss gives me a lot of leeway because I do my job fairly well (at least that’s what I like to think).

    However, some of us worry about building political capital more than others. I try not to let it control what I do. I worry more about doing my job well and working well with others, than building a checklist of credits. I do most of the chores at home because nothing will ever get done if I don’t (another issue beyond the scope of this forum), not because I want to go out with my buddies on the weekend. By following this course, political capital is a natural by-product of doing my job, domestic and professional, well.

  • dduensing

    SSC-Addicted

    Points: 410

    I read an interesting comment the other day; It's amazing what we can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit." Environments like that are my favorite place to work. People pulling towards common goals and working from various perspectives on the problem. On the other hand, it is important for me to know that the people in charge are aware of the efforts, and recognize the contributions personally. Not formal awards ceremonies, or gift certificates, but a walk up discussion about where things are and what challenges are on the radar. That is my way of measuring the karma in my arena. Not that the "politcal capital" game isn't on my mind as well. If the work I've been doing isn't appreciated, or the hours suddenly become "expected;" the credits drain fairly quickly, and my moral certainly suffers.

  • Anders Pedersen

    SSChampion

    Points: 11410

    THe most important thing, which I believe Andy Warren said, is to spend it when it is needed. Don't fight the little stuff just because "that's not the way I like it" but leave it to the big impact items.

    I think most of us have gone from being young know-it-alls that would fight for everything, no matter how minor, just because it irked us. To taking a more laid back attitude about stuff.

    I tend not to ask for much at work, there are a few tools I request whenever I start a new job, but I try to make that clear in the interview process. But I get pretty demanding when it comes to hardware, proper configuration of hard ware and source control. Beyond that all I ask is to be sent to one of the nicer conferences once in a while.

  • Miles Neale

    SSChampion

    Points: 13147

    I have seen it all at work for decades and it is real. Politics, points, and timing are all parts of the work life. You can not escape it, if you try it will get you anyway.

    People want you on their side or want you to shut up. It is time spent spending time. But it is required in any line of business.

    Politic when you need to, and when you are require to, but work the rest of the time and you should be okay.

    πŸ™‚

    Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!

  • drnetwork

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1815

    I think this is an age thing. Young people tend to be a little more naive and want to believe that they are judged strictly on some obscure thing called "merit". However, over time, you discover that there is a lot of back scratching going on and if you aren't scratching you will not get your back scratched.

    Politics is an art and, like any art, to be done well takes practice and persistence. I don't think it is so much talent as commitment to the art and working to make yourself better. At 45 (or so), I'm definitely better at politics than I was at 35, 25, or 15. Many get burned or fail a few times and devolve back to seeking the unrealistic "merit" system as an excuse for not continuing to improve in the art of politics. You have to stay in there. A job change is a great time to redouble your efforts in the art of politics, starting with fresh faces and such.

    While a technical position is roughly 25% politics and 75% technical expertise, management is probably just the reverse. Thus you have those who say, "I'm not a manager" when what they as often as not mean is that they are uncomfortable with the political aspects of the job. Your really good managers actually enjoy the politics. Ironically, it is sometimes helpful for a manager to practice the political skill of hiding their zest for the art of politics from their more technical subordinates who don't value the art as much.

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