No. of Recommendations: 0
Hi all

Apologies for an Off-Topic post but I would sincerely appreciate the thoughts and opinions of this particular audience - and I can't wait for intercst's suggestions!

I toil daily at one of the Big 5. Recently, in a meeting, I asked a question. Now normally this should not be a problem. However, this was a question that senior management could not answer (or didn't want to answer? Nah - couldn't answer) and I am 'paying the price' for this. (Incidentally I am female and senior management is male although I would like to think that this is irrelevant.)

I have learnt a valuble lesson here - don't ask difficult questions that may make management look like idiots. How does one go about learning about the politics in places like this and how to deal with it short of making all the mistakes ones self? Is there a book out there or a web site?

Can someone help me?

Brond
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 15
The source of all knowledge on this issue is Scott Adams' Dilbert.



Good Luck,

Frank
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 9
brond asks,

Hi all

Apologies for an Off-Topic post but I would sincerely appreciate the thoughts and opinions of this particular audience - and I can't wait for intercst's suggestions!

I toil daily at one of the Big 5. Recently, in a meeting, I asked a question. Now normally this should not be a problem. However, this was a question that senior management could not answer (or didn't want to answer? Nah - couldn't answer) and I am 'paying the price' for this. (Incidentally I am female and senior management is male although I would like to think that this is irrelevant.)

I have learnt a valuble lesson here - don't ask difficult questions that may make management look like idiots. How does one go about learning about the politics in places like this and how to deal with it short of making all the mistakes ones self? Is there a book out there or a web site?

Can someone help me?


Intercst asked many such questions during his 17-year corporate engineering career. After a while, management stopped inviting intercst to the meetings. This did not upset intercst since it left him with more time to tend to his investments and allowed him to retire in 1994 at age 38.

As FrankHK suggests, Dilbert is also source of wisdom on this issue.

intercst
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 16
How does one go about learning about the politics in places like this. . . ?

. . . which happen to make up 90+% of the working world!

You're already on your way with lesson #1 - Don't [ask difficult questons/do anything] that makes management look like idiots, which, BTW, severely limits your options.

Oops, another mistake:
. . .I would like to think that this is irrelevant. It's not!

An analysis of my career would probably make a good primer on how not to go about it, but I could write a hell of a good book now. There are a great many sources to choose from. I did read a short one, "How to Work for a Jerk" - don't recall author; it was pretty good.

You also need to keep in mind your short/long range goals:

Do you want to get ahead in the company? At what personal price in time, commitment, values? Or are you willing to be one of the "foot soldiers, do a competent job so you can focus your energies on other aspects of your life? Or does your recognition/acceptance/promotion at work define your self-worth or success in life?

Are you there for the long haul? Or do you see yourself moving to something different? In spite of the negative or oppresive politics where you are, you'll may find it very difficult to find a better environment w/o a lot of searching, job hopping and/or other costly measures. Good and bad people and management of all types exist in all companies.

There is a lot to be said for making your boss's life easier so your life will be easier. I've seem many get wrapped up in "the principle of the thing" and pay for it big time over the long run. Aside from reading and other outside sources, study others in the office and observe how they've adapted. You should be able to find one or more you can respect and learn from and, possibly, a mentor who will take you under their wing and save you from some future mistakes.

You'll spend your entire working life trying to keep a balance of many aspects: doing competent work, job satisfaction, a comfortable status in the company, harmony with peers and management, an outside personal life, time for family and friends, and, I assume if you're here, progress toward FIRE. As you progress thru your life and career, the importance of different ones will change and you'll have to adjust others appropriately. It's just one continuing journey toward what will make you happy now and in the future.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 13
<<I have learnt a valuble lesson here - don't ask difficult questions that may make management look like idiots. How does one go about learning about the politics in places like this and how to deal with it short of making all the mistakes ones self? Is there a book out there or a web site?

Can someone help me?
>>


Save 50% of your after tax income and plan to retire early as soon as possible.



Seattle Pioneer
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
How does one go about learning about the politics in places like this?

Try mentoring. If there is no formal program, do it yourself - find someone compatible that knows the ropes and hang on for dear life.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
This is one of the reasons I run my own business now, rather than have to deal with this kind of stupidity!

Work considering.

Petey
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Easier said than done!

Live in a cheap area (try that anywhere London and get back to me!), don't get married (and risk financial downside in a divorce & alimony), don't have kids and yes, 50% may just be possible.

;)

Petey


Save 50% of your after tax income and plan to retire early as soon as possible.



Seattle Pioneer
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
How to Work for a Jerk is by Robert M Hochheiser

Question for those who have read it: Does it have advice that is useful for non-jerky bosses too? My current boss is one of the 3 best supervisors I've had in the past quarter century, as well as being a certifiably nice guy.


Immediately below Hochhesier's book in the card catalog was
How to work for a living and still be free to live -- by Eileen McDargh.
Anyone read that? Since I'm off to a slow start (buying my first stock at an age when some board members are already retired) will be working for a while yet.

Below that were a lot of books on how to work with beveled glass and stained glass, which look less immediately applicble to my situation.

Lyndon

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 6
"Save 50% of your after tax income and retire as soon as possible!"

It can be done especially if you are single. Track where every cent is going for a while. (Yes, a pain but definitely worth it!) Move in with a roommate or rent a studio apartment. Do without cable or get the basic package. Find free sources of entertainment, parks, museums, picnics, bike riding... Brown bag your lunch. Buy good used cheap cars. Cut your gift/Christmas list. Opt out of office "shakedowns" for collections for every little thing. Don't keep up with the Joneses, let them win! Re-examine your clothing/shoe purchases and just go with a simple basic wardrobe.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 7
There is a lot to be said for making your boss's life easier so your life will be easier. I've seem many get wrapped up in "the principle of the thing" and pay for it big time over the long run.

Wish I could rec this more than once! After seeing several people I mentor get burned by "principles" (hey, I have to let them learn the hard way!), they've learned the most important lesson I teach -- keep your mouth shut. Or, more specifically, "just smile and nod".

Listen to BeanieMike. He's given some great advice here!

CK
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Due, I do all that!

Ultimately though, if you pay a mortgage and still live quite cheaply the cost of housing can prevent you from saving 50%. Below a certain wage and above a certain essential cost level, it's not possible to save significantly.

Petey


"Save 50% of your after tax income and retire as soon as possible!"

It can be done especially if you are single. Track where every cent is going for a while. (Yes, a pain but definitely worth it!) Move in with a roommate or rent a studio apartment. Do without cable or get the basic package. Find free sources of entertainment, parks, museums, picnics, bike riding... Brown bag your lunch. Buy good used cheap cars. Cut your gift/Christmas list. Opt out of office "shakedowns" for collections for every little thing. Don't keep up with the Joneses, let them win! Re-examine your clothing/shoe purchases and just go with a simple basic wardrobe.


Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
The more time I spent in the salt mines, the more I have to agree with ChocoKitty. The key to survival is simple:

"Keep your fcuking mouth shut."
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 16
When I found myself reluctantly in management, I discovered that it was a hell of a lot more difficult than it looked from the other side. But I know that I encouraged varying opinions, even when they were painful. I encouraged people to "see things from perspectives that I can't see." and so forth.

But in any case, I would suggest viewing senior management from the perspective of how you would like to be dealt with if you were in charge and unavoidably making mistakes. Treat them the same way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. That was alway my primary rule when I was a manager and I applied it to my management as well.

You should ask yourself if they show clear signs of irrationally holding a grudge based on your comments. I had a woman working for me who I had initial difficulties with who apparently believed that I would hold an irrational grudge. Although I struggled with issues for a while, I ended up putting her in charge of a key area and damn glad I did. Managers don't get where they are by total incompetance. They often see and understand things that you might not give them credit for. The whole time they're glaring at you and nursing their frail egos, they could very well be thinking about how you could very well be a valuable asset to the company. So don't give up on them.

Now for my commentary about men and women that's probably sure to cause all kinds of negative responses: One thing to keep in mind about men is that they're kind of like dogs (I'm not trying to be negative here) in that they're pack animals. They run in a pack and, although they have skirmishes, they still give off signals that they're still a member of the team. You can bring up difficult issues, ask difficult questions, but still do it in a way that says you're part of the team and that you want to be part of the solution. I've seen a lot of women moving their way up the ladder do this extremely well and in many different ways. You might consider developing your own style of doing things in ways that say, "I disagree, but I'm still part of this whole thing."

Keep in mind that senior management has enormous responsibilities and they know all about mistakes. They need to remain in charge and they may fear losing their perceived authority. They've probably encountered all sorts of difficult people. They have experience in getting a variety of people to function as a team and know the risks. If you do battle with them, you'll lose because they won't be willing to accept the risks of disruption in order to get the benefit of help from someone who, from their perspective, does not yet know their way around the block.

Oh well, that's just my perspective. Good luck.

DeliLama
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
I wanted to answer brewer12345's response of "Keep your f**ing mouth shut." When I was a manager, I had some people who took this approach and I'll admit they were valuable because while I was fighting fires and dealing with more problems than I could delegate, I needed people who I could assign to things who would do what I needed them to do, even though from their perpsective they believed they should be doing something else. There's a very wide gap between those who can see mistakes and those who can do everything right the first time themselves. In any case, management often knows that there are many things that the other employees can see/understand which management can't see/understand very well. But not all the other employees understand that it works both ways.

But then there are people who don't keep their f**ing mouth shut, but offer solutions instead of pointing out mistakes. Lousy managers will resent them... at their own peril. Or people who roll up their sleeves and attack whatever problems they're able to deal with themselves. These are the people who managers look for to help run things.

DeliLama
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
But then there are people who don't keep their f**ing mouth shut, but offer solutions instead of pointing out mistakes. Lousy managers will resent them... at their own peril. Or people who roll up their sleeves and attack whatever problems they're able to deal with themselves. These are the people who managers look for to help run things.

DeliLama

*********************

Fair enough, DeliLama, but non-lousy managers are apparently rarer than hen's teeth. Most of the time, solutions that I or others have offered are either co-opted into the manager's response (and the credit for the solution is hijacked), or the miscreant offering a solution is shot down or fed to the wolves at the earliest opportunity. It would be nice if good managers wre abundant, but that seems like a fantasy.

On the whole, my experience suggests that doing what you have to and shutting up is the safest course.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 5
How to Work for a Jerk is by Robert M Hochheiser

Question for those who have read it: Does it have advice that is useful for non-jerky bosses too? My current boss is one of the 3 best supervisors I've had in the past quarter century, as well as being a certifiably nice guy.


Savor that time w/ a good boss. My experience was always that the great guy was sandwiched in between the jerks.

Luckily, I found my book, right next to my Tom Peters collection. It's about 15 yrs old. Don't know about availability. It may be a catchy title, but there's substance there as well. The rest of the title is "Your Success is the Best Revenge." A quick review, from the Contents:

Chap 1 - They Do It on Purpose
Why bosses act like jerks and how they get away with it.

Chap 2 - The Cast of Characters
Identifying the type of boss you have and determining how to deal with him:
Manager / Lone Wolf / Firefighter / Powerphiiliac / Con Artist / Bureaucrat / Wimp / Real Jerk

Chap 3 - Dillettantes, Fops, Experts. . .
Assorted losers do reach the top. How to get the upper hand.

Chap 4 - Corporate Dinosaurs
Entrepreneurs as they evolve from fearless to fearful

Chap 5 - Inhuman Resourcefullness
How jerks get hired. Schemes bosses use to avoid rewarding us.

Chap 6 - Politics
An assortment of unprincipled principles for dealing with uncooperative bosses, colleagues and subordinates.

Chap 7 - If You're Also a Boss
Motivate people to work for you, not against you. Mutual indispensability. Compatability. How to hire good people.

Chap 8 - It's Only a Job
Putting your job in perspective as a means to an end. Controlling your ego. Dealing with egocentric bosses. Creative selfishness. When/how to be assertive. Setting goals.

Back cover:
". . . bosses who act like jerks succeed because of their apparent stupidity, not in spite of it. This book showw how the big guys get ahead of the pack and stay there, warns of the ploys used to avoid rewarding us, . . and gives us foolproof ways to convince bosses that treating us well is to their advantage."

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 8
<<Now for my commentary about men and women that's probably sure to cause all kinds of negative responses: One thing to keep in mind about men is that they're kind of like dogs (I'm not trying to be negative here) in that they're pack animals. They run in a pack and, although they have skirmishes, they still give off signals that they're still a member of the team. >>


Perhaps there are some good reasons for this.


My brother is CEO of a health care organization with 350 employees. He's quite a democratic guy, delegating a lot of responsibility and does not do a lot of whip cracking.

The result was, he had a lower level manager who just about hijacked the organization and the fallout from this attack was that she was bought off to go elsewhere but that others continue to tie the organization in knots.

If he had been a tougher boss, he would have dealt with this problem before it could become a major issue.

So perhaps one reason for maintaining control is that democratic processes can lead to the dissolution and destruction of an organization.



Seattle Pioneer
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 15
I learned most of this too late for me (naively, I thought doing excellent work and a lot of it, was the ticket) but here goes...
****************************************************
keep your mouth shut.

suck up.

work smart, not hard. the only thing that really matters is what management PERCEIVES you are doing, not what you are really doing.

be your own best PR person. you're creating an image, your job at work is to sell yourself, not to actually do the work.

I used to think what my peers thought of me was very important....it is for social purposes, but doesn't do a darn thing to get you promoted. the only thing that matters is what management thinks of you and that is largely in your hands (see suck up, above.)

know that management talks among themselves about their staff, they pigeonhole you early on.... basically moving up in a company is a popularity contest with management. you need someone high up to go to bat for you.

being right doesn't matter. Being right will come back to bite you.
instead, use tact and diplomacy.

don't piss off your boss.

also know that sometimes there is no pleasing management.. you just don't fit their right "profile" (wrong age, gender, race, look, wardrobe, whatever)
***************

I would also recommend the book "Power" authors Greene and Elffers

Now, go forth and prosper :)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
How to Work for a Jerk is by Robert M Hochheiser

FYI, half.com currently has 45 of these in stock at prices as low as 75¢ (plus shipping of $2.30 for media mail or $4.55 for priority mail).

http://www.half.com/cat/buy/prod.cgi?cpid=225407&domain_id=1856&meta_id=1

phantomdiver
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
work smart, not hard. the only thing that really matters is what management PERCEIVES you are doing, not what you are really doing.


Best advice ever!

Fishin - Playin' the corporate game like a champ.

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
Save 50% of your after tax income and plan to retire early as soon as possible.

-------------------------

Easier said than done!

Live in a cheap area (try that anywhere London and get back to me!), don't get married (and risk financial downside in a divorce & alimony), don't have kids and yes, 50% may just be possible.


It can be done and it is easier to do if you live in a high cost/high wage area (i.e. SF Bay Area). I'm currently saving 30% of my pre-tax income and what amplifies it much more is that when I'm ready to retire I will be moving somewhere cheaper to live than here. I'm really saving 60%/year of the income I will be able to retire on since I would be able to live quite nicely on about half of what I currently make if I go somewhere else.

Hyperborea
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 14
To all those who may be facing many, many years of work prior to FIRE:

I agree with Kauai67 [52259]. . . to a point.

Workers soon recognize there is a “profile” for management. You can, for the most part, change yourself to fit that profile, yes, you can even act stupid. I never got it right, so after a long time, gave up trying. When you leave the ranks of the climbers, you adopt the teachings of the masses, to wit,

keep your mouth shut. . . suck up. . . don't piss off your boss. . .

But the real danger is that you'll internalize all this to the extent that your self-worth, self-esteem and job satisfaction take a career-long downward spiral. How many of us, when we were young and new to the job, couldn't believe how cynical and negative the old-timers were? “I'll never be like that,” we promise. While I accept Kauai67's observations as true, I suggest you consider go a step further.

Blessed/cursed with a strong work ethic, I tried to do good job, work that I was proud to put out, whether or not it was recognized. I didn't put much effort into fitting the profile. The result was that I had a reputation for doing very good work and being able to handle what ever was thrown at me, with a minimum of supervision. This makes you very valuable to management. In any company or organization, someone has got to get some work done or produce something. That's not management's job, so they will have to rely on a few workers to do that.

Consequently, over time, I was frequently picked to work the most difficult, complex, challenging cases. And I got a hell of a lot of job satisfaction from it.

Did I work harder than many of my cohorts? Yes. And management? Absolutely.
Did it keep management from screwing with me? Hell, no.
Did I know many of them were probably chuckling about the idiot doing all the work while they goofed off? Sure.
Did I get extra pay or benefits for my efforts? Nope. “Employee of the Month/Year?” No, a lot of that kind of recognition is political, too.

Do I feel bitter, pissed-off, unappreciated, under-compensated, un-recgonized? Sure, I have felt that way at times when I was working, but never since retiring or even the last few years of my career. As I look back now at almost 30 yrs of that work, I'm happy with the choices I made and glad I didn't re-invent myself to conform to someone else's profile. I wouldn't trade all my years of experiences for years of "managing."

It's hard to maintain your individuality when you're part of a large organization. I did, but I paid a price for it, in terms of $$ and “status'. Others who chose the profile route retire from management w/ bigger pensions. I'm happy and probably they're happy, too.

Everyone has to make the choices that you can live with over the long haul.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 10
Blessed/cursed with a strong work ethic, I tried to do good job, work that I was proud to put out, whether or not it was recognized. I didn't put much effort into fitting the profile. The result was that I had a reputation for doing very good work and being able to handle what ever was thrown at me, with a minimum of supervision. This makes you very valuable to management. In any company or organization, someone has got to get some work done or produce something. That's not management's job, so they will have to rely on a few workers to do that.

I think this career path is being eroded in many modern businesses. I would be happier at work if I could just be given a fairly interesting task with a reasonable deadline and be allowed to work on it until completion. Even if no one else thought it was important, I could be happy just doing a good job.

Unfortunately, my career experience thus far (three different companies) has been one of deadlines that have no concept of reality, product plans that shift monthly, constant reassignment of personnel (to put out fires), and an attitude from management that is basically “We need it fast and cheap, and we don't care how bad it is or what the long-term costs are.”

I don't mind working hard on something I can be proud of creating. I mind being told to hurry up and patch up things that were thrown together by some other hapless soul under the “Fast, cheap, bad” dictate so that I can move on to the next identical situation (provided the product plan doesn't change in the meantime).

Too bad I am still a long way from retirement.

Amphian
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Just a few comments on the 50% savings concept.

First of all, being married does not mean that you have to give up your ability to save. This is especially true in a double income home where you are able to share expenses (no requirement for two rent/mortgage payements, two gas bills, two phone bills, etc). This doesn't mean that you will always double your income and keep expenses the same...expenses will go up, but it is not a requirement that they double.

Besides, consider how things might change for a married couple. If you are making 35k and you marry someone who is making 135k. If that person lives way below their means, you can retire very, very early.

Second of all, saving money by cutting expenses all over the place is not the only way to get there. Don't underestimate the value of keeping expenses constant (reducing them is great) and increasing the revenue side of the equation.

I know a lot of coworkers that have increased their spending along with their raises/bonuses every year. They will be lucky to retire by 65.

Anyway, 50% is possible and there are lots of ways to get there.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 8
Beanie Mike,
The advice I gave is what I should have done, not what I did do.

I did things my way, worked hard and good.....

I have my integrity to show for it.
I can sleep at night and look myself in the mirror.

I also ruined my health in the process.

And I have many frustrations and misgivings, especially as I watch people I trained get rapidly promoted past me, and as I watch people who have played the game, get ahead.

All these many years later, I see office politics as a game. Purely.

I didn't play because partly because I valued my principles and looked with disdain on those who kissed A#$. and partly because I didn't understand the game.

I understand it now. I would have done things differently.

I think it is more than possible to win the game and not compromise your values at the same time.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
What do you do about the fact that you'll be leaving good friends you will have build up your whole life. Would make retirement rather dull, no?

Petey


It can be done and it is easier to do if you live in a high cost/high wage area (i.e. SF Bay Area). I'm currently saving 30% of my pre-tax income and what amplifies it much more is that when I'm ready to retire I will be moving somewhere cheaper to live than here. I'm really saving 60%/year of the income I will be able to retire on since I would be able to live quite nicely on about half of what I currently make if I go somewhere else.

Hyperborea
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 9
It can be done and it is easier to do if you live in a high cost/high wage area (i.e. SF Bay Area). I'm currently saving 30% of my pre-tax income and what amplifies it much more is that when I'm ready to retire I will be moving somewhere cheaper to live than here. I'm really saving 60%/year of the income I will be able to retire on since I would be able to live quite nicely on about half of what I currently make if I go somewhere else.

Hyperborea

-----------------

What do you do about the fact that you'll be leaving good friends you will have build up your whole life. Would make retirement rather dull, no?

Petey


Not really. I'm living in the SF Bay Area where neither my wife nor I grew up. In fact, both of us grew up in two different countries other than the US and we will likely be retiring in one of those countries though we have seriously thought about third locations - perhaps somewhere in the Med (Spain, Greece, south of France - I hold an EU citizenship). I have made and left friends many times throughout my life: going off to University in another city; going off to work in yet a different city; returning to graduate school; going off to work in the SF Bay Area; and finally some day retiring. My best friend has also been somewhat of a wanderer and we have kept in touch over the years and in fact both landed in the SF Bay Area but I have also made lots of new friends while here. You can't base your life on whether you will have to leave friends behind because they won't and one day they may leave you behind when they go off on their adventures. So, don't tie yourself down to one location because of friends - live your life and go where you will.

Hyperborea
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
"I think it is more than possible to win the game and not compromise your values at the same time"

I agree. And it's a lot more fun innovating and taking chances. For anyone starting out who disdains office politics and instead wants to make a difference, I suggest they read "Leading the Revolution" by Gary Hamel.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Is there a book out there or a web site?

Try The Secret Handshake. Get it at the library though. It isn't great enough that you would want spend money on it.

rggraham
Print the post Back To Top