I hate company politics.
I hate when people walk around talking low between each other regarding who is doing what, and that A is plotting against B. I hate when a coworker tells me that I should not waste my time on my current project because this other guy is going to kill it, but this decision is not yet official so no one told me. I hate when there are two levels of decision making, one above the table and one below the table.
And there is probably only one reason that I hate company politics – Because I am not good at them.
Not that I haven’t tried, and I’m still not trying. I read many books on the subject (would you like to recommend one?), I try talking to people, learn the dynamics of the group, who is who… but I’m simply bad at it. I’m so bad that I only get the news after they are old. Things just fly by above my head and I never see them. And from what I heard from friend developers, it is not only me. Some good developers take management jobs only to be part of the political process, knowing that they will stop coding (something most of them like doing). And this is a bad decision both for the developer – because he will stop doing what he likes; and to the company – because they will loose a good developer and gain a new manager who is only there because he doesn’t want to be left out. Not a good deal.
There are obvious ways to reduce company politics, all of them which start by being both open and sincere. First, communicate using open methods like chat rooms and forums instead of mailing lists. If someone wants to enter the discussion and see what’s going on, let them go ahead. In most cases, this is not a problem (off course there are exceptions, but let them be such and not the rule). Managers should communicate decisions without leaving room for interpretation, and do this whenever they can. If there is an ongoing discussion on a topic, and there is still no conclusion, communicate the direction.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
There will always be politics, but transparency makes them clearer and manageable, and even if we don’t really affect the final decision, we get the feeling that we had the option to affect it. And in life, feelings are many times more important that results.
Just my thoughts on the subject.