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Coworkers that suck up to the boss beyond limits

Here is a background. I work at a place
where the boss is semi-knowledgeable and
incredibly arrogant. He is always right
and there is no respect for any opposing opinion.
He can really easily
have outbursts of anger with reports,
but always sucks up to higher ups and parallel managers. He'll
try to keep all such things undercover so
that these people think that he's a good
guy. His weapon is a boss upstairs, so I
don't really understand why he sucks up
so much to other managers since he pretty
much can do whatever he wants anyway without
any side effects. He
also is very nice at interviews, so you
never see it coming ahead of time ( I specifically
tried to observe him in such an environment
to see why my judgement of him was so off the mark). Well,
after he started to have anger outbursts
with me I took some steps (making some noise outside
the deparment) so that now
he is always nice and polite to me. Such
an approach seems to be quite good at
confining his uncontrolled behaviour.

Now I am working on a project with a coworker
that is so trained to suck up that he'd
rather say yes and waste time working
on something meaningless for a week than firmly but
politely explain his point of view. Even
when I am explaining such a point of view to the manager
the coworker is still trying to suck up which
negates my effort to get things on
the right track. Then in private he tells me
that it was unimportant to hold the ground and it was more important
to agree with the manager even though future
misunderstandings will often lead to more crap
(anger outbursts). In fact, his hasty agreements
lead him to having hard time with the manager
quite often since he says yes so fast and then
has to figure out how to back out of the shit
he's gotten himself into.
Also, the coworker is so close to retirement
that  if anything happens he'll probably
be given an option to retire anyway. And,
in this division budget is reevaluated
once a year, so the lay-offs are pretty much
always aligned on the end of the year boundary.
The manager won't want to make noise, so
singling out somebody for disagreements is
not an option he'd take easily.
Perhaps, the contractor's past of the coworker
conditioned him to suck up to those who
paid him regardless of the circumstances.

Another coworker also suffers verbal abuse
but sucks up due to the "need to get the
paycheck". Although she's usually more assertive
when shown a good approach and can actually
disagree with the manager. However, such things
have fleeting effects because 2 days later she
is already agreeing with the managers point of
view. As a side comment, she does seem to suffer
from bad memory :-)

I am kind of new to this industrial environment
thing (<15 months), so my question is about
how much one needs to "suck up" to higher ups.

Is the level of sucking up I see among my coworkers
is really so common? How much of sucking
up do you see in your environment? Is the all
important need for the paycheck worth loosing
one's self-worth and degenerating into a "yes"
weasel? How fast should I try to get out of
such an environment to preserve the things that
I like about myself?

Please, share your experiences.

Don't want to become a "yes" weasel
Monday, July 14, 2003

Well, I didn't suck up & when it was time to lay off employees, guess who was on the short list?


Monday, July 14, 2003

"me four!"

Ordering_a_sam_adams_beer_at_lunch
Monday, July 14, 2003

"Is the level of sucking up..."

First, are you being paid to manage your project or are you being paid to do work on it?  I suspect it is the latter, and you should remember who is paying your salary.  Otherwise they will find somebody else who will do what that money is intended for, and it isn't to hamstring the guys who are paid to make the decisions, whether _you_ like it or not.

Doing what project management tells you to do is not necessarily "sucking up," even if you disagree about the decisions behind it.  And with only 15 months in the business, you seem awfully confident that you know what the best decisions are in the first place.

So, all in all, my advice is to get off your high horse and do your job.

(intentionally over the top to make a point.)

Robert
Monday, July 14, 2003

"Doing what project management tells you to do is not necessarily "sucking up," even if you disagree about the decisions behind it.  And with only 15 months in the business, you seem awfully confident that you know what the best decisions are in the first place."

Robert, good point! I do understand that I am kind of paid to do what I am told to do. The decision making is for the managment caste, and I should just crawl back into my slave cave and do what I am told.

Unfortunately, what happens is that the manager never knows what he actually wants. Being able to work independently was his sales pitch when I was interviewed. Regardless, I'd be very happy to have a  guy who set the direction *ahead* of time. Makes my life infinitely easier. In this particular case, however, he usually has no clue what kind of solution he wants when the project is given out. Then once you develop a solution, he is definitely gonna interfere and start micromanaging you.  Often his suggestions are technically wrong, 'cause he's acting on little knowledge yet is confident that he's right. Yet they are orders. And we're necessarily forced to persue the blind alleys which will have to be abandonded later if one is to suck up, and to argue if one is to avoid such alleys.

That is the point of the old timer, he sucks up to the blind alley decisions, and then has to deal with the consequences.

It is incredibly easy to interfere, make small tweaks, and feel like you're an imporant manager. It is a lot harder to actually propose something costructive.

What bugs me is that he could just step aside, let the thing get done, and take the credit for accomplishing something together. Unfortunately, he'd rather see you fail than succeed just because his uninformed late suggestion was not  taken into account.

Don't want to become a "yes" weasel
Monday, July 14, 2003

Sorry for a second reply, but I'd like to restate the main issue.
The need to say "yes" to bad approaches in order to suck up when I already know that they are not going to work stirs up a lot of feelings within me.
I'd very much like to preserve my integrity, yet it does not seem to be an option ...

 

Don't want to become a "yes" weasel
Monday, July 14, 2003

It's an option, albeit an expensive one.

Cracker
Monday, July 14, 2003

You're paid to produce profit for the company. Well, that's what you're paid for when you cut away the crap and get down to it.

If you just follow your boss' decisions even though you know they're bad and wont work then you are NOT doing your job, no matter what your job description says your role is.

That said, you're not legally required to give a shit about the company, and sometimes it's best to do what advances yourself over what is in someone else's best interests.

You're the one who has to live with any decision after all.

And the horse you rode in on
Monday, July 14, 2003

"Doing what project management tells you to do is not necessarily "sucking up," even if you disagree about the decisions behind it.  And with only 15 months in the business, you seem awfully confident that you know what the best decisions are in the first place."

You've done a fine job of avoiding the main issue here in your reply.

It's not that the boss is making bad decisions, per se, but he is refusing to accept input, and he's using verbal abuse to get his way.  Do you, with your years of industry experience, consider this to be adequate and respectable leadership?  Is it even so in _any_ context?

It's one thing to be naive and unaccepting of decisions from on high--that's just egotism.  But it's quite another to be tied to the whipping post, and treated harshly for even constructive dissent.

I have personally seen this phenomenon in my experience, and it's not pretty.  Even a reasonable manager who uses emotional outbursts and intimidation to get his way, stifles constructive input from his employees and creates a "yes man" culture.

c++_conventioner
Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Provide your input, if necessary in written form, and if he ignores it you should accept it because That's The Way Life Is - he is your boss, like it or not, which means that you do have to do what he says (within reason).


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

"You're paid to produce profit for the company. Well, that's what you're paid for when you cut away the crap and get down to it."

You are paid to please the person that has the power to hire/fire you. This can be turning a profit, or this can mean supporting every dimwitted call that makes the shop loose another revenue stream.

Yes, in the long run the companies that miss all the chances might have to downsize (even all the way), and as a result you might go down with them or loose your job. There are however many other reasons for getting the boot long before this happens.

Almost all middle (and high level) managers have a far different and far more selfish agenda than "all for the best of the company collective" . They will crush good revenue streams for the company (if they think can get away with it) because they are managed by a "competing" manager.
Some try to rise to the top by just being better. Most get there by a combination of things that also include poking sticks in the wheels of the other runners.

So either you align your goals with the hand that deals out the grub, or you look for a different hand. Better find out what those goals are. You didn't think "competition" just ended once you pulled into the company parking lott, now did you?

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, July 15, 2003

"You are paid to please the person that has the power to hire/fire you. This can be turning a profit, or this can mean supporting every dimwitted call that makes the shop loose another revenue stream."

The thing is that the group I am in is kind of IT like, with
little revenue generating stuff per se. We're mostly there to support others. So pretty much nobody really cares what is going on inside the group, and the manager treats it like his personal kingdom. Time does not matter, a project can take several times longer due to the dimwitted changes of the direction. Above everything it is important for this manager to make sure that his orders are followed exactly, and then he yells at you when his dimwitted suggestions not working. Double frigging bind ... Eventually some working state is reached. Later the manager hails it as a great achievement to other managers. Once after reviews he spent like an hour patting himself on the back how he got "high praise" from other managers. Freaking clown! The bizzare thing at this place is that even doing some retarded stuff gets you high praise from the upper management which never ever calls any BS.

Don't want to become a "yes" weasel
Tuesday, July 15, 2003

"the manager treats it like his personal kingdom"

You say you wan' a revolution
Well you know, we all want to change the world


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I've found that with managers you need to play the long game.

Sometimes its hard for we techies to fully understand how it works for managers.  For us our value is in our knowledge and expertise. 

For managers there status is entirely bound the there position.  It is therefore essential for them to maintain there place in the hierarchy.

Imagine if somebody tried to suck all of your knowledge of one of your systems from your head.  When you usurp a managers position, thats what it feels like for them.  Even if you are right and they are wrong, they cannot concede ground.

So you have to play managers right.  Don't suck up, but be careful not to challange there authority.  It sounds like you female collague has the right idea.  Its surprising how useful a bad memory can be.

There are a few rules when dealing with managers:

- Never allow them to treat you badly.  If he gets angry and rants at you don't stand for it.  If you do, then they will have no respect for you.

- Never challange a manager in front of others.  If you don't agree with what they say, take them to one side later and voice your concerns with tact.

It may seem that managers are a rather pathetic and pettry breed, but they are not.  I've seen techies turned managers who don't understand all this peeing contest stuff and they doomed there projects every time.

I always see management as a method for encapsulating the legacy pack instincts that most humans still contain at a low level.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

"It may seem that managers are a rather pathetic and pettry breed, but they are not.  I've seen techies turned managers who don't understand all this peeing contest stuff and they doomed there projects every time."

Well, some of them really ARE a rather pathetic breed. Those get the positions without any relevant merit whatsover, just on the strength of BS and kissing ass of some important guy. Of course, some might argue that strategic ass kissing is the merit.
Then the politics becomes be all end all type of thing. And the projects still are as doomed.
  Occasional BS from a manager is fine with me, what I am having trouble with is a system built on BS. When in private with you the guy is frequently lying and does not hold his word, that is not a good thing.

Don't want to become a "yes" weasel
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

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