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Preys on the naive by introducing obvious information
on July 25, 2008
Kathleen Reardon seems to be laying the groundwork to be the university expert in corporate politics. First her book "Secret Handshake" and now this one. I read them both, and neither was helpful to me, a 20+ year management veteran of the corporate world.
Dr. Reardon gives real life situations for her case studies. She discusses what to do when a person is passively-aggressive in a meeting, or explaining a backstabbing incident.
The boiled down advice all readers should use in all situations is: "Confront the attacker. First with professionalism. If they don't respond, let it be known you will fight and you won't be a pushover. If THAT doesn't work, you'll need to get some senior executives on your side, to confront this person. If none of those work, quit."
Well, the 1st and 2nd pieces of advice are pretty obvious, but don't always work, especially when you're new to a company or department, unsure of yourpolitical capital, and unsure of the consequences of confronting a coworker or boss. Most attackers have support from others, and know how to spin an alternate version of a 'situation' so the victim (this book's reader) is seen as politically paranoid. I've been in companies where nasty people have a lot of clout, and confronting them is not smart.
Dr. Reardon's 3rd piece of advice is hilarious. "Find a senior executive to back you up, so that when the confrontation becomes public, you will have their support." Huh? If i had access to senior executives to back me up, i would drop their name to the politically inept backstabber and win the fight instantly. And most senior executives aren't about to back up junior managers just because they are asked to. They have their own political capital they are building. They're not going to squander it just because you come into their office and ask them to.
To propose getting your Big Brother to beat up the Bully as the "get out of difficult political situations free" option proves she's an academic, buried in theory.
Oh, and if you, the reader, can't get any of these three 'solutions' to work, you should "find another job." Well, finding another job is not helpful to those of us who have families, who want to stay in our neighborhoods, and don't want to create an emotionally traumatic family problem by moving spouse and kids to another state just because the corporate breadwinner keeps getting into political fights at work. Maybe the corporate breadwinner should maneuver out of this small battle, and live to fight another day (or maybe try to not fight at all).
I found all the suggestions sound good while comfortable in your chair at home, but useless come the workweek. Dr. Reardon assumes every reader is in a position to find Goliath's at work to stand behind them, quit jobs they don't like, and change companies and cities if they don't get their way. The options proposed are improbably contrived solutions to intractable problems.
Sun Tzu said "Every battle is won or lost before it is fought." Dr. Reardon gives you impractical tactics to implement while fighting, instead of teaching you how to stay out of the fight and still succeed.