[thechat] No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Matt Warden mwarden at gmail.com
Mon Apr 6 22:19:20 CDT 2009

On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 7:18 PM, Jack Timmons <jorachim at gmail.com> wrote:
> As much as that sucks, it's a common situation. When I started to work where
> I did, the current IT Manager disagreed with everything I said. Luckily, in
> this power struggle, I eventually get to take his place and finally prove my
> way was the best available.

As geeks, this is generally our approach. We are hard-wired to expect
other people to recognize what we know is right and to be "won over."
We also believe that people should ascend to their level of ability,
and as long as we keep fighting the good fight, people upstairs will
eventually recognize it and promote us to where we belong.

The trouble is, the world doesn't really work like that, even in the
long term. Jack, you're lucky that it worked out for you, but you say
you had to deal with a power struggle in the process. To me that
screams personal risk, and for what?

If you have the right approach and your fellow colleague is seriously
misguided, you ought to be able to ask him or her a couple targeted
but non-confrontational questions in a meeting that make the approach
seem insufficient.

"Your idea sucks because it doesn't account for the scenario where
income records have already been inserted."

But rather:
"John, how do you see this approach handling the scenario where income
records have already been inserted?"

It's then on him/her to come up with a way to handle it on the spot,
find an "out" of some sort (but at least this way you give him/her the
opportunity to avoid ego bruising), or perhaps even turn it back on
YOU and say a nice version of "ok smarty-pants, how would you handle
it" (which is of course exactly what you want).

If you can't come up with a question or two like that, I would say
perhaps there isn't as much of a difference in the two approaches as
you think.

> Keep preachin', though, and keep trying.


Matt Warden
Cincinnati, OH, USA

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