Sure, hes a little paranoid but hes also essentially correct (reminding us that paranoid people can have real enemies). Most of the problems we face as professional technologists are related to people and their personalities, biases and intellectual abilities, among other features unique to the human species.
There are so many jerks out there that its impossible to know how to survive especially if your company is jerk-prone. And there are lots of companies that are jerk-prone.
There are a couple of ways to go here. The first tried and true way is to complain incessantly about the idiots. Were well aware of this approach. Many of your colleagues have perfected this approach after years and in some case decades of honing just the right complaining twang.
While complaining all the time can actually make you feel good depending upon your own personality it can also make you depressed since complaining doesnt actually change anything.
The other way to go is to identify and implement a set of manipulative soft skills designed to get you what you want. Manipulative? Absolutely. Soft skills? We all know what they are, but many of us just cant master them.
Why not? Because we dont have the personalities? Because theyre too difficult to learn? No, because were not motivated to implement them.
So lets get this out of the way right now. Many of us are unwilling to kiss ass, work the troops, sandbag or play politics, not because we cant, but because we dont want to. You have to decide what you want to accomplish and the tools youd like to use to achieve the results you deem important.
Weve already dismissed the complaining tool. Now we can examine some other tools: the soft skills from the dark side.
We all know this tool. If were honest, well admit to using the tool in our personal relationships: its a rare friend or spouse that hasnt kissed ass at some point to get what they want.
But in the workplace its more complicated. On the one hand, its a tool that can make insecure managers and executives feel good about themselves and therefore about the ass kisser. But on the other hand, use of this tool means that you have to swallow truth and objectivity and fawn all over stupid, nasty idiots who clearly dont deserve any form of respect or adulation.
Can you do this? Theres a credibility issue at work here. If you compliment idiots for doing stupid things, does that make you an idiot?
Regardless, ass kissing can be very effective especially if done in private. Credibility (and other things) suffer when you kiss ass in public. Dont do it.
I knew a guy who kissed so much public ass that we used to handicap when his head would bury itself well, you know where. Consequently, no one took the guy seriously (except himself and the asses he kissed).
This tool is hard to use. Sort of like a 64-degree wedge (if you play golf). But once mastered it can be extremely effective.
The first step here is to profile the players. Whos got power? Who are the boss friends? Who will be the next VP? Whos on their way out?
Its essential that you get this right. Once youre confident about the players and their positions, map out their individual strategies. Then locate all of the intersections on the maps.
The game is played from the intersecting points on the maps of the current and projected power brokers. Make sure that you cater to them and their objectives.
You can ignore insult, if youre bold those falling from grace. But always use the profiles, maps and intersecting points to make even the simplest moves.
Good consultants know how to under-promise and over-deliver. Its a good practice. The trick is to sandbag just enough to stay out of trouble.