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Books on Office Politics

Does anyone know any good books on how to master office politics?

As a fresh graduate I would like to avoid some common mistakes people are usually making when they first start out.

Something that explains the every-day-idiocy found in (large) companies and how to deal with it without becoming a borg-like drone or code grunt.

Thanks in advance ;-)

Sunday, August 4, 2002

Cubicle Warfare: Self-Defense Tactics for Today's Hypercompetitive Workplace .

This is very valuable. There are many  freaks out there with no life and a big agenda.

Sunday, August 4, 2002

I hope you don't think this is too trite but "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is still an easy to read classic.  Relationship and business gurus have been rewriting that book for 50 years.

Office politics are the same everywhere: at the office, in your neighborhood association, in the PTA, or your favorite non-profit because human nature is the same everywhere.

My humble opinion is that programming work can prevent you from developing people skills.  If I can butcher a quote about Jack Northrop, the aviation pioneer: "A great engineer, a great manager, a great people person."

Sunday, August 4, 2002

Here's a list of books you might find helpful:

Bernstein & Rozen; "Dinosaur brains: dealing with all those impossible people at work"

Bernstein & Rozen; "Neanderthalls as work: how people and politics can drive you crazy..."

DuBrin, Andrew J. "Winning at Office Politics"

Also try:

Brinkman & Kirscher; "Dealing with People You Cant' Stand"

Cialdini, Robert; "Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion"

Tom Dratler
Sunday, August 4, 2002

Try "The Prince" by Nicolo Machiavelli

Substitute "mercenary" to consultant, "Prince" to manager etc.

Joachim Hartmann
Monday, August 5, 2002


You can't avoid the mistakes.  You shouldn't even try.  When you start out its OK to make mistakes - go ahead, goof up, mess up, cock up, make the mistakes thousands have made before you.  The important thing is to LEARN from those mistakes.  The lessons that have stuck with me the most are those that I learnt through my own foolishness in my first job.  Also, keep your eyes open for the madness around you - it won't be hard to spot.  Try and learn from that too.


Monday, August 5, 2002

The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World by Christopher Duncan is a really good book. I don't agree with everything he says, but it's full of good advice and well worth a read.

Monday, August 5, 2002

I would actually advise you not to read those sort of books. Instead, be honest, work hard, treat others as you would like to be treated, and you will probably be OK.

The sad fact is that by the time "office politics" has become a problem, it's probably too late. Stand by your principles and respect others, and you might never encounter the bad parts of "office politics."

Standing by your principles would include being prepared to resign if necessary.

Hugh Wells
Monday, August 5, 2002

Sherlock & Hugh,

Of course you're both right. And rest assured that I wasn't asking because I was planning on starting my own system of intrigues and lies.

I'm just trying to learn from other people's experiences but I'm sure the reality will be very different from what's in these books.

I've read so much bad stuff about the IT industry in this forum that I have some doubts whether it's really a good choice to work in this industry. However, as a serious computer afficionado I don't really have much choice.

I recently did an internship in a pharmaceutical company and a lot of the bad things mentioned here also happening there.

This was mainly because they weren't a technology company. The people there were really great but most of the stuff we did didn't make any sense.

I obviously tried to convey this in a nice and well-informed way but I think they had to spend the rest of a budget - so they bought an overly expensive and complex product (Java app server by ATG) no one could use (no in house Java coders)... Very sad

Monday, August 5, 2002

Try this:

"Never Wrestle with a Pig and Ninety Other Ideas to Build Your Business and Career" by Mark H. McCormack

Igor K.
Monday, August 5, 2002

journey of the software professional - luke hohmann

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Not exactly office politics, but a book I have given to several female coworkers is "Games Mother Never Taught You".  The premise, which may (or may not) be a bit less true today than twenty years ago, is that women are not raised with the right experiences to ready them for the business world.

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

I agree with another poster.  Don't bother trying to "master" office politics.  Time spent on this will only take away from time spent mastering your craft.  If you are good at what you do, in most cases, you won't need to bother.  Provide a needed service and get paid for it.  I have always let my work and output speak for itself.  In other words, if you play it right, you won't need to bother with politics, unless you really want to advance up the ranks.  Plus, usually, new tekkies could care less about getting into management, they'd rather get neck deep into code and textbooks. 

Yes, after college, learning to deal effectively with others takes time.  Just keep your eyes and ears open for what works and what doesnt.  Note who is effective, and who isnt.  Of course, it varies from firm to firm, but human group dynamics always remain constant. 

Hopefully, as a Jr., you will not be in a position to have to get involved in politics.  Focus on doing a good job.  When you are good, many things fall into place.  For those who are not, they need to "force" things by playing the political game.

Workers who build success via politics, often meet their failure via politics as well.

Thursday, August 8, 2002

"Substitute "mercenary" to consultant[...]"


Eric DeBois
Friday, August 9, 2002

Well,  substitute "captive" to "bitter full-timer who gets paid less than half"

Actually, I guess I understand.  Anyone who wasn't a consultant in the last 10 years sure does have a lot to be bitter and resentful about.

We've heard it all.  Like, health benefits! 
Yes, that was covered with a 3 days of billing. 

Oh, and, "Full-timers have job security"  Who needed job security in the white-hot tech market??  Everyone had 10 standing job offers.    And when the job market slowed, where was that job security everyone touted as the Holy Grail??  You get the same foot in the ass as the consultant, but also get 2 weeks severance for those 10 years of being underpaid.

Now that's ROFLMAO !!!   

Friday, August 9, 2002

"but human group dynamics always remain constant"

Friday, August 9, 2002

Ok, maybe I should have said "Human nature remains constant".  You appear too stupid to have understood the gist of my statement, despite an entire paragraph of context. 

Saturday, August 10, 2002

I would divide "politics" into two different aspects. 

The first would be human interaction necessary to get your project going - and most of this would be normal conversation, meetings, and discussions to convince or sell an approach to problem solving (as an example).

The second is "pecking order determination" - achieving status and prestige by collecting symbols (e.g. private office) engaging in kissass activities, and generally just lying about everything as necessary to promote your "appearance" and being "well liked" by other people.

Both aspects exist together in most organizations.  Which aspect is practiced by a person depends on individual values and your integrity (or lack of it) to stand up to them.

Joe AA
Sunday, August 11, 2002

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