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Re: Management that just doesn't understand

by dws (Chancellor)
on Oct 24, 2001 at 22:55 UTC ( #121224=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Management that just doesn't understand

footpad did an excellent job of covering most of my response to this, so I'll focus on the warning signs you might look for to avoid getting into this mess again.

You wrote:

Alterior motives kick in and tell me that if I can do a good job on this, and get it done quickly, I can amaze the hell out of the remedy group and possibly end up with a job.
This looks very much like a specific form of the behavioral trap called "inflicting help", which I know very well, having stepped into it many times before.

In this trap, A anticipates a reward for helping B on A's terms, but A acts without first seeking B's permission. B thinks they're being meddled with, and takes offense. The result is hurt feelings on both sides, which could have been avoided had A first sought B's permission.

One key point of this is that B won't grant permission if they aren't satisfied that A understands the real problem (i.e., the problem as B sees it). The real problem is often much wider, richer, deeper, more frought with political aspects, etc., than it first appears to the outside observer. Another key point is that by first engaging in a dialog, A and B can build the bonds necessary for B to feel comfortable with A's intentions.

So how does that apply here? Simply this: If, like many technical people, you see things first as being technical problems, you're at risk of skipping non-technical discussions about a problem. This leads to lots of missed information, and before you know it you're getting dinged for inflicting help.

Had you first sought the permission of the folks administering Remedy (through their management), your situation might have unfolded quite differently. First, you would have avoided surprising management. Surprising management can be a Very Bad Thing. Technical people who've been spared the opportunity of wearing a manager's hat often fail to realize just how and why surprises can be such a bad thing. (There's a whole Meditation there, at least.) Managment might have said "no thanks," but that's still better than the situation you find yourself in now.

Second, by seeking an audience first, you might have increased the odds of your eventually getting a job with that group. By showing the technical people that you understood part of what they were up to, had thought about it, and had some ideas that might help them, you might have gotten their support. (Or you might have stepped into a nasty debate within the group). But by surprising their management, you likely screwed any chance of joining that team.

Third, the ensuing discussion might have revealed addition context and constraints (such as SSL, if that is a real constraint and not just a blocking maneuver) that you could have coped with before this became a political problem.

The meta-moral of this is that the next time you want to help someone, ask their permission first.

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