There IS An Answer!
I picked up a new book recently called 21 Dirty Tricks at Work: How to Beat the Game of Office Politics. While I have many issues with this book (for instance: Did anybody EDIT this thing???), I did come across a chapter that practically left me salivating for more. The reason: it offered a real answer.
I mean, how many times do you need to hear that you need to document workplace incidents and then take them to Inhuman Resources (who’ll probably never do anything with them anyway)? Of course, this is a “right” answer, it's just not the answer that works most of the time.
So let me tell you the scenario and what this book says about it that I like so much. This poor schmoe Jerry receives an offer for a “development opportunity” from his idiot boss, Ben. As most of you are aware, as soon as you hear the words “development opportunity” you usually duck and cover. We know better; this is rarely a good situation to be in.
What this is really about is office politics. The problem that arises much of the time from being caught in such a spot is that we never really know the best way to proceed. Well, these authors have a good solution: ask questions. I don’t mean just any questions about how to move forward with the project at hand, but more probing questions that diplomatically let the other person know you’re aware of what they’re doing to you. These questions also allow them the opportunity to level with you about whatever project or task they are giving you, or it can plunge them further into a lying mess. However, at least you will know if they’re lying! How great is this???
So, if you get tapped for a project that no one else will willingly touch, here are some questions that you can ask. If you try these, let me know so I can hear what kinds of answers are given.
- What exactly is involved?
- What is the connection between this opportunity and my development plan?
- How does this move my development forward?
- How might this be a good move for the business? (Good idea to make this about the business rather than about yourself!)
- Why have I been identified for this?
- Who else was considered for this and why were they rejected?
- What was the thinking behind me taking this on?
- Why is this a good time for me to be pursuing this opportunity?
- How might this be relevant to my current work and career plan?
- What's in it for you?
- What's in it for me?
- What happens if I say "thanks, but no thanks"?
These are just some of the questions the authors laid out. Let me tell you, I love these questions so much I wish this book had been available at the same time my bat-$#@%-crazy managers made me swallow the miserable “development opportunity” they gave me a few years ago. It would have been great to hear their answers!