I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

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tjhar
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I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by tjhar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:48 am

I'm an early career person working in the R&D sector. I recently moved for my first job after getting a PhD, but I'm really not adjusting well. I hope others can offer their advice.

I was hired into a contract-based R&D position working for a non-profit that historically would convert to full-time staff position. It's actually not a bad deal, the salary is decent, benefits are nice, and I went in with the expectation that I would be hired in as a full-time staff once the contract ends. Historically, I have been a great performer (top 5%), and I fully expect to cope well in my new role.

I had problems since Day 1 at the organization. For my first major assignment, I had to work with a more senior person (about 7 years more experienced than me, 1 rank higher than me), who was also recently hired, a few months before I joined as a matter of fact. Let's call her Alice. If you know how it works in R&D, there is lot of [(removed) --admin LadyGeek] to be honest, in terms of whether you are leading a project (i.e. first author publications for those working in the field). I was 100% uncomfortable with this arrangement from the start. In R&D, you almost never want to work primarily with a more senior person in your early career, because credit will inevitably be given to the more senior person. I tried to work with it, we came to an agreement that we would split credit 50/50, in terms of our deliverables. Unfortunately, I soon learned that while we were equal partners, one party is always more equal than another. In a few months, Alice started taking the project we were working on, and selling it as her own ideas and initiating collaborations with other groups in the department. I was damn pissed, because that was my long-term goal; I did expect her to start moving when we barely have a prototype working.

I tried to workaround this problem, I devised related research projects based on the strengths of my technical background - but I received little support from my direct manager, let's call my manager Adam. To be honest, my ideas were not that good and a bit forced, and did not align well with the goals of the organization, so I dropped it quite quickly. Later, I connected with another dept at the organization to initiate my own cross-disciplinary collaboration, but then Adam let this information slip to Alice, and Alice insisted she wants in , and now she is part of "MY" project. If you haven't picked up already, Alice is Adam's "favored golden boy" employee, or in this case golden girl if we want to be accurate.

All this while, I have no ownership of any project. I'm always working with Alice, and I'm like the redundant expendable sidekick. I hated it. It gets worse. The breaking point was when Alice started using the technology developed from "MY" collaboration with the other dept, to help another colleague, let's call him Brian. Brian and I are peers, in the sense we were hired in the same batch, at the same position, same everything, and therefore quite frankly we are direct competitors for promotion when our contract end. Brian and I are also in the same department, and to be honest Brian is doing better than I am. Funding situation in R&D is also not good, and my assessment of the situation is that it is a zero sum game. So in short, Alice took the only competitive advantage that I could possibly have against Brian and sold it to him, any edge I have (if I had any in the first place) is now lost.

There's a lot of other details going on here, too much to say, but at this point I feel like a dead man walking.

I know I am being used by both Alice and my manager Adam. I am like the "third party" in our working team. I am always being excluded for important things like writing grants, you may think that I am too junior be on the important stuff, but Alice is on them, and Brian is also writing grants with his manager. I even tried to get feedback from Adam about my performance, he'll say you're doing great.... BUT we don't need to fill in any formal feedback because you are still a contract employee, even though Brian's manager just completed a 6mth progress report with him last month. I've also brought up the conversation with Adam on how I can "make it work" in terms of staying at the organization, but every time I brought it up he has been evasive and non-committal. I can see how this will end, because of no written proof of good performance, it's going to be my word against his during crunch time. I can already see how Adam is setting me up to fail, if the need arises.

Another minor incident is that I have some extra money from my research grant, which is technically "MINE", because I am the listed project manager on that project. Adam "usurped" my money to advance his own agenda. Apparently, he submitted a request on my behalf for more money to the internal grant administrator, and I did not realize it until the very LAST DAY, where the internal grant administrator sent out a note saying that she has received my request.

I am quite certain if I follow this path, after my contract ends I will be shown the door, regardless of how I perform. Why?
- My job scope thus far has been a replication of Alice, so what extra value do I bring to this organization?
- Funding situation is bad, so if I can't bring any extra value, why would I be promoted especially since Alice can do everything I do, but is more experienced?
- I have been trying hard to move away from Alice since I got here, but because Alice-and-Adam are best pals, I can't.

I can see how the conservation will go: "Hey tjhar, you have been an excellent employee, made lots of contribution. But funding situation is bad, and so we can't convert you to a permanent full-time position".

The situation has gotten quite bad that now I intentionally hide some of my ideas/initiatives from my manager Adam, because he's going to just sell me out to his favored employee Alice. And I know this is going to affect me badly too, because Adam might think I am not doing much work - my plan is to work with the other department (beyond Adam's management scope), and once we have a sufficiently developed product, come back to Adam and tell him about it (basically making sure I am so far ahead that even if Alice wants in, I will be the lead on the project).

Psychologically, I hate going to work, and I literally count down the hours before the end of the day. I have never operated like this before, and it is killing my morale and productivity. For the first time in my life, I actually have this strong desire to "get out of town" on the weekends (and I do) because I really cannot stand this toxic environment.

I am really at a loss, because I am in my early career, and this is tanking my career. I admit I am feeling very bitter and angry against Alice and Adam because the duo have basically setup roadblocks for my career since Day 1 of joining this organization. What should I do?
Last edited by tjhar on Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:52 am

Find another job.
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MooseandBear
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by MooseandBear » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:54 am

+1

Update your resume, use references from your prior job, start applying now. That way, at minimum, you'll feel like you're in control of your own future and, best case, you'll be out of that place soon!

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by coachz » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:57 am

Power is something you take, not something that is given to you. Claim what is yours either at the current job or at a new job and enjoy the ride.
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Dude2
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Dude2 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:01 pm

FYI. My recent experience is that it is taking a longer time that I am used to for the "finding a new job" process to tick. Although unemployment numbers look good and companies still "appear" to be hiring, things seem to be moving slowly. If you are going to split, best advice is keep the current job, start looking, and expect it to take a bit of time. That's very general advice as I do not work in R&D or have a PhD, but it may still apply.

PVW
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by PVW » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:06 pm

You are spending too much time trying to figure out how to win the political game. Resign yourself to loosing that game and just try to focus on contributing the best work. Let your contributions speak for themselves.

I know R&D organizations can be political and sometimes those that get ahead are those that are good at playing politics. But it sounds like you are not suited to the politics, so your best option is to get out of the game and do good R&D work.

Rodc
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Rodc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:15 pm

To push back a little on you, you are straight out of school, still wet behind the ears, and you think you should be running things like a senior PI or something?

I can just imagine your bosses and other senior people talking about the "Clueless Millennial" they just hired. They most likely paid their dues for years to get to senior and you walk in expecting to be on top of the heap right from day one.

That said, things do sound like something might be less than ideal, but since that is often the case it might be a good learning experience. What you need to do is find a mentor to help you understand the outfit and how to work within the organizations norms, etc.

Best of luck.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Rodc
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Rodc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:19 pm

PVW wrote:You are spending too much time trying to figure out how to win the political game. Resign yourself to loosing that game and just try to focus on contributing the best work. Let your contributions speak for themselves.

I know R&D organizations can be political and sometimes those that get ahead are those that are good at playing politics. But it sounds like you are not suited to the politics, so your best option is to get out of the game and do good R&D work.
This is good. I have spent going on 30 years in R&D. Much more fun to concentrate on doing good work and letting others play the game. You may not end up ruling the place, but you will do fine and have more fun. They are not going to cut a high performer who gets along with people which you will do if you leave the hyper-ambition to others. And over time you might even come out on top. Slow down, relax, get some good work done. You don't have to roll over and be a patsie, just change the focus a bit from all about me to a more team focus.
Last edited by Rodc on Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

B0bL0blawsLawBl0g
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by B0bL0blawsLawBl0g » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:20 pm

What should I do?
My advice is take some time for some serious self-reflection. This is going to come off as a bit harsh, but I mean it from a place of tough love: You sound like a bad employee and a bad coworker. I think you really need to reassess your strengths and weaknesses and try to re-orient your attitude towards "How can I provide value to my employer and be a respected and collegial colleague."

My impression from reading your synopsis is that your current behavior is not ideal. Here is what I understand to be true:
  • 1.You are a junior employee with less than one year job experience
    2. Your have a very high self-assessment of your own capabilities ("historically I have been a great performer"
    3.You have been assigned to collaborate with someone who has considerably more experience than you
    4. You were hostile to the idea of this collaboration from the very beginning
    5. Rather than applying yourself to the task given (the collaboration with Alice), you have sought out other assignments that you were not given
    6. You have actively tried to undermine your colleague and your manager, by hiding ideas from them, arguing about sharing "credit," and secretly working on projects with departments outside the scope of (and unknown by) your manager
    7. You have presented your manager with ideas that were admittedly "not good and a bit forced, and did not align with the goals of the organization".
    7. When your bad ideas were not supported by your manager, you went around him to initiate a collaboration with another department outside of your manager's scope
    8. You are hostile to your co-workers and treat them with a mixture of contempt and paranoia (you and Brian are "competitors", Alice is the "golden girl employee", Alice wants a part of "MY" project, in R&D you never want to work with a more senior person, in R&D there is a lot of "dick-measuring", Alice "took the only competitive advantage I have against Brian and sold it to him", "I know I am being used by both Alice and my manager Adam"
Look, this particular environment might be toxic beyond repair at this point. You're probably best served by polishing up the resume and looking for your next gig.

But, when you get to the next gig, you may want to approach your relationships with a bit more care. In order to excel in any workplace, you have to learn how to collaborate, how to share credit, and how to function individually for the good of the team. This is the "plays well with others" lesson from grade school. It's important, and you seem to be missing it. I'm not saying this to be mean or rude, but I think that you need to really look inward and have an honest self-assessment about how your behaviors are affecting those around you, and how that might be an obstacle to your future success.

Good luck.

Ybsybs
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Ybsybs » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:20 pm

Now would be a good time to begin your job search. The situation isn't likely to improve and your added value is not being recognized. Don't burn any bridges, but do start looking elsewhere very soon.

stoptothink
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by stoptothink » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:27 pm

B0bL0blawsLawBl0g wrote:
What should I do?
My advice is take some time for some serious self-reflection. This is going to come off as a bit harsh, but I mean it from a place of tough love: You sound like a bad employee and a bad coworker. I think you really need to reassess your strengths and weaknesses and try to re-orient your attitude towards "How can I provide value to my employer and be a respected and collegial colleague."

My impression from reading your synopsis is that your current behavior is not ideal. Here is what I understand to be true:
  • 1.You are a junior employee with less than one year job experience
    2. Your have a very high self-assessment of your own capabilities ("historically I have been a great performer"
    3.You have been assigned to collaborate with someone who has considerably more experience than you
    4. You were hostile to the idea of this collaboration from the very beginning
    5. Rather than applying yourself to the task given (the collaboration with Alice), you have sought out other assignments that you were not given
    6. You have actively tried to undermine your colleague and your manager, by hiding ideas from them, arguing about sharing "credit," and secretly working on projects with departments outside the scope of (and unknown by) your manager
    7. You have presented your manager with ideas that were admittedly "not good and a bit forced, and did not align with the goals of the organization".
    7. When your bad ideas were not supported by your manager, you went around him to initiate a collaboration with another department outside of your manager's scope
    8. You are hostile to your co-workers and treat them with a mixture of contempt and paranoia (you and Brian are "competitors", Alice is the "golden girl employee", Alice wants a part of "MY" project, in R&D you never want to work with a more senior person, in R&D there is a lot of "dick-measuring", Alice "took the only competitive advantage I have against Brian and sold it to him", "I know I am being used by both Alice and my manager Adam"
Look, this particular environment might be toxic beyond repair at this point. You're probably best served by polishing up the resume and looking for your next gig.

But, when you get to the next gig, you may want to approach your relationships with a bit more care. In order to excel in any workplace, you have to learn how to collaborate, how to share credit, and how to function individually for the good of the team. This is the "plays well with others" lesson from grade school. It's important, and you seem to be missing it. I'm not saying this to be mean or rude, but I think that you need to really look inward and have an honest self-assessment about how your behaviors are affecting those around you, and how that might be an obstacle to your future success.

Good luck.
This was totally my initial assessment as well, and it almost 100% mirrors a current employee I have that I am battling back and forth with my boss (the chief medical officer) about firing. Another very recent PhD in an R&D role, who simply has no idea how the corporate world works. This employee is brilliant and knows it, but thinks they are smarter than everybody else and has been very detrimental to the team as a whole.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by anoop » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:28 pm

Maybe just my perception, but you are going to encounter varying degrees of this behavior in any job. I cannot say if your job is better or worse than average. Cliques/favorites are very common. Playing it fair is the exception rather than the rule--those that can take credit for your work and get away with it, will do so. Perhaps the best advice I have to offer is to learn to be diplomatic and stand your ground. Point out issues when you see them, and even though you will be heard, it may not be acknowledged; you may just notice a change in others' behavior. Learn that giving away part of the credit will at least ensure you get some credit. It can be disillusioning, so it might help if you can find a mentor either at your workplace or outside (someone you may know socially or a family member). You could also try reading some books on workplace politics; e.g. something like this.
http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Handshake- ... 0385495285

Good luck!

BanditKing
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by BanditKing » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:29 pm

Time to update the resume and move on. However, when you land at your next job, you may need to update your attitude a little. You are coming off as very self-important and that will never serve you in a team or political environment. Sounds like you've torched the bridges here, at least beyond the point where you can be happy.

Move on, and start fresh with a better approach.

tjhar
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by tjhar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:33 pm

B0bL0blawsLawBl0g wrote:My advice is take some time for some serious self-reflection. This is going to come off as a bit harsh, but I mean it from a place of tough love: You sound like a bad employee and a bad coworker. I think you really need to reassess your strengths and weaknesses and try to re-orient your attitude towards "How can I provide value to my employer and be a respected and collegial colleague."
I don't think I started as a bad employee/co-worker, and my actions has been shaped on how I have been treated.

I've always made reasonable comparison, notably against against Brian, who is also the first-year on the job. I benchmark myself against Brian, so my "resentment" about certain things are not unfounded. So when I say I am not included in writing grants, it is a well-founded concern because my peers like Brian or more senior people who joined at this level has told me they were writing grants in their first year. This in my opinion addresses the millennial feedback.

Initially I was concerned about collaborating with a senior person and not having any real ownership of my projects. I thought we sorted that out in the 50/50 discussion, but when I found out when Alice went behind my back and starting sell our ideas as her own, I had to react.

Which led me to look for other projects that were both relevant to the organization and the department. I've always framed it in a manner that would benefit my department and my manager. At first I kept my manager Adam informed, and he supported me on some endeavors. But then he had to bring Alice into my initiatives, and that further pushed me away to the point that now I release information on a need-to-know basis.

I also started reading up on office politics and influence a few months into the job. I also tried to take a positive perspective on things, but whenever I try to increase my influence (like increasing my competency, bringing value the organization, learning my skills that are valued by the organization), I am always being overshadowed by Alice because ultimately Adam will bring her into the stuff I am doing.

My actions has always been reactionary to the environment. Would you suggest that I play the role of the patsy and take the fall when the time comes?
Last edited by tjhar on Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:38 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by bigred77 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:33 pm

Rodc wrote: I can just imagine your bosses and other senior people talking about the "Clueless Millennial" they just hired. They most likely paid their dues for years to get to senior and you walk in expecting to be on top of the heap right from day one.
Either consciously or unconsciously, I'll bet this is indeed happening.

I work in an industry notorious for slow career progression. Everyone has to pay their dues and the majority of my coworkers are very experienced. I was hired in as an intern 8 years ago and I'm positive some of my management still see me as a 23 yr old intern. I've been referred to as a good, sharp, bright, etc. "kid" and it boils my blood. I just grit my teeth and try to move forward.

It's tough but you really just have to do good work and try to be as patient as possible (unless you decide you want to pursue other opportunities). Seize projects and leadership opportunities that make you visible up the chain of command and do a good job. Recognition eventually comes to those who do successful work and solve difficult problems. Try to leverage your strengths to do good work on high priority issues.

R&D and non-profit work may be a different animal but of all the hyper ambitious millennials I know, most all are frustrated by the speed of their career progression. Some of this is probably due to unrealistic expectations (I plead guilty myself on this one) and some is due to the lack of opportunities available since 2008 in many industries (much harder to scale the company ladder these days).

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by IFRider » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:38 pm

PVW wrote:You are spending too much time trying to figure out how to win the political game. Resign yourself to loosing that game and just try to focus on contributing the best work. Let your contributions speak for themselves.

I know R&D organizations can be political and sometimes those that get ahead are those that are good at playing politics. But it sounds like you are not suited to the politics, so your best option is to get out of the game and do good R&D work.
+1

I spent many years learning this lesson -- over 33 years in the workforce, including 20 years at megacorp and 5 years at the biggest megacorp: the US Army. I spent hours brooding and writing emails like this telling my bosses or anyone who would listen how smart I was and how my talents were being wasted in a political dead-end.

Finally, I just got tired of complaining and started doing what PVW describes above. Strangely enough, just quietly doing my job suddenly resulted in promotions, additional responsibility, and respect. And, the funny thing is, I saw the old me reflected in others and I finally understood why I never made any progress at work.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by B0bL0blawsLawBl0g » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:40 pm

tjhar wrote:
B0bL0blawsLawBl0g wrote:My advice is take some time for some serious self-reflection. This is going to come off as a bit harsh, but I mean it from a place of tough love: You sound like a bad employee and a bad coworker. I think you really need to reassess your strengths and weaknesses and try to re-orient your attitude towards "How can I provide value to my employer and be a respected and collegial colleague."
I don't think I started as a bad employee/co-worker, and my actions has been shaped on how I have been treated.

I've always made reasonable comparison, notably against against Brian, who is also the first-year of the job. I benchmark myself against Brian, so my "resentment" about certain things are not unfounded. So when I say I am not included in writing grants, it is a well-founded concern because my peers like Brian or more senior people who joined at this level has told me they were writing grants in their first year. This in my opinion addresses the millennial feedback.

Initially I was concerned about collaborating with a senior person and not having any real ownership of my projects. I thought we sorted that out in the 50/50 discussion, but when I found out when Alice went behind my back and starting sell our ideas as her own, I had to react.

Which led me to look for other projects that were both relevant to the organization and the department. I've always framed it in a manner that would benefit my department and my manager. At first I kept my manager Adam informed, and he supported me on some endeavors. But then he had to bring Alice into my initiatives, and that further pushed me away to the point that now I release information on a need-to-know basis.

My actions has always been reactionary to the environment. Would you suggest that I play the role of the patsy and take the fall when the time comes?
You're getting defensive, which is understandable because my post could be perceived as an attack on you. I don't mean it as an attack, but it's understandable you would perceive it that way and get defensive.

But, please understand I'm just an objective observer who read your summary. And the conclusion that I draw from your summary is that you are hostile and difficult to work with. You may feel justified in your actions -- heck, you may even be justified in your actions -- but, your behavior is not working to your advantage. It's actually alienating you and holding you back.

I'm not suggesting that you be the "patsy" or a doormat. Not at all, you should always be assertive and stand up for yourself. But, that's a far cry from some of the stuff that you've done (see numerals 4-8 above).

tjhar
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by tjhar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:41 pm

B0bL0blawsLawBl0g wrote:You're getting defensive, which is understandable because my post could be perceived as an attack on you. I don't mean it as an attack, but it's understandable you would perceive it that way and get defensive.

But, please understand I'm just an objective observer who read your summary. And the conclusion that I draw from your summary is that you are hostile and difficult to work with. You may feel justified in your actions -- heck, you may even be justified in your actions -- but, your behavior is not working to your advantage. It's actually alienating you and holding you back.

I'm not suggesting that you be the "patsy" or a doormat. Not at all, you should always be assertive and stand up for yourself. But, that's a far cry from some of the stuff that you've done (see numerals 4-8 above).
Noted. I know that post come across as defensive. I will take some time to reflect on my situation.

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Taylor Larimore
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Politics at Work vs. Job Satisfaction

Post by Taylor Larimore » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:51 pm

tjhar:

For what it is worth, this was my recipe for job satisfaction:

I learned to avoid office "politics" and "apple polishing" for a promotion. My job satisfaction came from working hard to be the best at whatever job I was given. The fact that promotions usually followed was nice but relatively unimportant to me.

Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:53 pm

Do you openly disclose your frustrations either verbally or with facial movements? What I'm getting at is it's quite likely your other team members know they are "getting your goat" and you may be subtly encouraging more of this behavior. Do you exercise? Recommend you workout your frustrations there, and start looking for new employment elsewhere. You don't want to lose it at work, which can lead to firing or worse, having a chat with local authorities if your behavior becomes menacing.
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by jharkin » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:56 pm

What kind of "R&D" work is this? The term R&D is used in all kinds of fields from government funded scientific research (NASA, DoD, DoE, etc), to university funded reasearch, to biotech, to aerospace/auto/etc big manufacturing engineering departments, to the software development departments in large software and IT companies. Likewise the degree fields could be hard science, any one of the many engineering disciplines, computer science, etc.

Your mention of PHd's, publishing, grade levels and contracts makes me *think* you are talking public sector or some very science heavy industry like biotech, but its hard to tell. Big difference in the level of #*$#&_!( you have to deal with depending on what sector/industry it is.
Last edited by jharkin on Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Rodc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:58 pm

At first I kept my manager Adam informed, and he supported me on some endeavors. But then he had to bring Alice into my initiatives, and that further pushed me away to the point that now I release information on a need-to-know basis.
Absolutely no way that is going to work in your favor. You are actively pushing away, and hiding things from, the one person you most need on your side.

You are killing yourself.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by blueberry » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:05 pm

The politics of the workplace are a bit of a shocker at first. I'm not sure if I every really mastered them. I kept my head low for 20+ years and just made sure I felt good about what I was doing, and then was happy to retire early. I've seen others excel after first foundering by figuring out how to game things and it actually sounds like you might be doing that but don't feel good about it. Look for low hanging fruit! That seemed to work for people. I was more prone to work on the things that needed doing, not so much credit for that as you'd think.

1) You may figure out how to excel there, and how to enjoy it.

2) Politics do change over time. The golden boy title will be handed around. Possibly you can stay there and try to be amused until things change in your favor.

3) If you can find a better job go for it, but don't assume the politics will be better. Possibly, think of things you can ask in an interview to determine if the worst of the things that bother you will be present or not.

B

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by swaption » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:25 pm

tjhar wrote:I don't think I started as a bad employee/co-worker, and my actions has been shaped on how I have been treated.

I've always made reasonable comparison, notably against against Brian, who is also the first-year on the job. I benchmark myself against Brian, so my "resentment" about certain things are not unfounded. So when I say I am not included in writing grants, it is a well-founded concern because my peers like Brian or more senior people who joined at this level has told me they were writing grants in their first year. This in my opinion addresses the millennial feedback.
This paragraph tells me much. I don't know if it is a real thing, but it is what I refer to as the "persecution complex". Why do you even bother benchmarking yourself against Brian. The bottom line is that for some reason in your mind they seem to favor Brian. Your immediate default is to take that personally, as if it is something against you individually, or some mad conspiracy due to you collaboration with Alice. What do you honestly think the status would be here if Brian were collaborating with Alice? At the end of the day, you, Brian, and others were a blank slate when you walked in the door. I'm sure Alice and Adam wanted to like you as much as the others. But the bottom line perhaps they don't. You may refer to it as politics, but part of your job is to be liked, so you need to understand why this may not be the case.

But the message in the comments should be clear, based on the way that you characterize things here, it seems likely that much of this is your doing, and not the result of some inherent bias against you. If you take a step back, there really would be no reason for any bias (I always think of Steve Martin in The Jerk, "somebody hates these cans!").

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by livesoft » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:30 pm

Sadly, the OP is creating a lot of the politics at work for themselves. I think that behavior will follow them wherever they go, so that they cannot escape it.
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Re: Politics at Work vs. Job Satisfaction

Post by Rodc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:40 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:tjhar:

For what it is worth, this was my recipe for job satisfaction:

I learned to avoid office "politics" and "apple polishing" for a promotion. My job satisfaction came from working hard to be the best at whatever job I was given. The fact that promotions usually followed was nice but relatively unimportant to me.

Best wishes.
Taylor
Nice, short and to the point.
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Re: Politics at Work vs. Job Satisfaction

Post by mrc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:00 pm

Rodc wrote:
Taylor Larimore wrote:tjhar:

For what it is worth, this was my recipe for job satisfaction:

I learned to avoid office "politics" and "apple polishing" for a promotion. My job satisfaction came from working hard to be the best at whatever job I was given. The fact that promotions usually followed was nice but relatively unimportant to me.

Best wishes.
Taylor
Nice, short and to the point.
I couldn't agree more. You have to get up in the morning and look forward to doing the work, not a battle. They can take away the promotion or the raise or the contract or the parking spot, but they can't have your dignity and self-satisfaction and attention to keeping score -- unless you let them.
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by kithwang » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:41 pm

If you have nothing you can learn from the senior people, then leave. Senior doesn't mean # of years they have been on the job or how old they are. Senior means knowledge you don't have.

If you know how to write a grant and how to architect everything and network. Then it is time to leave.

If you expect the people who knows all that to help you and put you as PI, than that is the wrong attitude. Is that what you would expect too if you had their experience and someone just came along?

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by amateurnovice » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:20 pm

You could count on them to want to keep you around so they'll look good. I mean, if they're actively stealing ideas and using you, you're of value to your superiors. Looking at it from that angle sucks, but it's possibly true, regardless of funding quandaries or competitive advantage.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by AAA » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:26 pm

Rightly or wrongly, what you are experiencing is probably the norm. When I started my career, I was under a more senior person and he tended to portray whatever I did as a continuation of things he did in the past. While some overlap was unavoidable, as we were working in the same area, I felt it diminished my contributions.

On the other hand, I later was assigned a junior person to mentor and he never gave me credit for any helpful ideas I gave him, even going as far as filing patents and not including me as co-inventor. When confronted, he claimed it was unintentional and inventorship was corrected, but it led to some very disagreeable situations. So I got it from both ends.

What I realized after a while is that most people are very insecure, especially in private industry. Your coworkers may be intentionally or unintentionally viewing you as a threat, especially if you are as good as you say. So these difficulties may follow you wherever you go, as people are the same everywhere. Maybe you have to learn to "play the game." For instance, you could, in casual conversations with your manager, let him know of some great idea you had or great result you obtained but not in a way that seems like it's going behind someone's back. After a while, they will know who is doing what, if they don't already.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Rodc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:47 pm

AAA wrote:Rightly or wrongly, what you are experiencing is probably the norm. When I started my career, I was under a more senior person and he tended to portray whatever I did as a continuation of things he did in the past. While some overlap was unavoidable, as we were working in the same area, I felt it diminished my contributions.

On the other hand, I later was assigned a junior person to mentor and he never gave me credit for any helpful ideas I gave him, even going as far as filing patents and not including me as co-inventor. When confronted, he claimed it was unintentional and inventorship was corrected, but it led to some very disagreeable situations. So I got it from both ends.

What I realized after a while is that most people are very insecure, especially in private industry. Your coworkers may be intentionally or unintentionally viewing you as a threat, especially if you are as good as you say. So these difficulties may follow you wherever you go, as people are the same everywhere. Maybe you have to learn to "play the game." For instance, you could, in casual conversations with your manager, let him know of some great idea you had or great result you obtained but not in a way that seems like it's going behind someone's back. After a while, they will know who is doing what, if they don't already.

This is a very interesting post due to the possible symmetries.

The mentee in paragraph two may very well have seen and experienced the situation just as the mentee in paragraph one (ie you). While the senior person in paragraph one may very well have seen and experienced the situation just as the senior person in paragraph two (ie you again). These might have been the very same situations only you see them as different because you changed roles from mentee in one and senior person in two.

I think this happens a lot. I once was told that in a marriage if both spouses think they are doing 80% of the work the balance is about right. :)

Same kind of thing here, both sides think the other is getting the better deal and they are not getting their full credit.

I note the same in paragraph three: it may be that "Your coworkers may be intentionally or unintentionally viewing you as a threat..." but it is clear that is exactly how the OP is viewing them. Again, it is all about point of view.

In this post is it all framed from one side.

This framing is clearly not working for the OP.

But it could just as easily be framed from the other side.

As to people being the same everywhere, what is likely even more true is that the OP will be the same, and apply the same framing everwhere, unless they make a strong effort to change point of view and behavior. Without that they will just continue to do poorly in each new situation.

FWIW: I actively give away credit, even to people who do not really fully deserve it. I do enough good work and have enough recognition that I will do fine if I do not get all the credit. And guess what? People like to work with me and my teams do very well. And so I went from being a solid individual performer to a solid individual performer known for getting others to perform well. I suggest others give it a try. I confess when I decided to do this it felt a little weird and not totally normal, but I knew it was a good idea and it did work. And frankly I need other people to have good ideas; I can't have all the good ideas. And if people make mistakes you can help them by owning them - tell the boss that you know that goof Johnny made was really my mistake (I suggested it, should have caught it, was a natural mistake anyone could have made, etc.). People will want to work with you and you will do well.
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by stoptothink » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:46 pm

Rodc wrote: FWIW: I actively give away credit, even to people who do not really fully deserve it. I do enough good work and have enough recognition that I will do fine if I do not get all the credit. And guess what? People like to work with me and my teams do very well.
This is hugely important and something many of my employees have had a hard time figuring out. I am a director-level employee, but in all honesty a significant part of my job is producing content (speeches, online and print articles) accredited to my boss (CMO). He's scheduled to do a Ted Talk in a few weeks, guess who wrote it? Put aside the ego and you'll quickly see people want to work with and for you.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by moneywise3 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:35 pm

..... :sharebeer
Last edited by moneywise3 on Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by moneywise3 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:38 pm

First and foremost, you have to enjoy doing the work in that field. These conflicts will seem minor in comparison if you enjoy the work. Having a PhD doesn't automatically mean that field is your calling.

Secondly, your focus sounds like getting fast promotions. The organization and people will not necessarily change to align with that (just to make you happy).

Wouldn't be a bad idea to talk to a psychologist. Use the 5 free EAP sessions.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:29 pm

tjhar - You are venting about a work-related relationship issue, i.e. "politics". Politics is another word for "people" - which includes everyone you work with and yourself.

This discussion needs to focus on managing your career - directly actionable on things you can do to change the situation.

You are being given good advice on how to handle your career path. Slow down and read what has been said.

Going forward, please state your concerns in a clear, calm, and factual manner. Otherwise, we'll need to cut the discussion short.
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by mwm158 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:18 pm

deleted
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by investingdad » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:37 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Rodc wrote: FWIW: I actively give away credit, even to people who do not really fully deserve it. I do enough good work and have enough recognition that I will do fine if I do not get all the credit. And guess what? People like to work with me and my teams do very well.
This is hugely important and something many of my employees have had a hard time figuring out. I am a director-level employee, but in all honesty a significant part of my job is producing content (speeches, online and print articles) accredited to my boss (CMO). He's scheduled to do a Ted Talk in a few weeks, guess who wrote it? Put aside the ego and you'll quickly see people want to work with and for you.
Funny you should say this.

I'm an engineer with about 20 years experience. No direct reports and just a senior engineer type title. But I do have access to, and work with, people who go in front of our CEO (Fortune 500). I did ALL the work compiling a presentation that summarized the work done by the team I led...and it was turned into an executive summary and presented by a VP to the CEO.

Who gets the credit? Not I. Who gets handed the reins on the next important project? I.

Ego? Meh...couldn't care less. Just keep those nice paychecks coming and I'll be retired soon enough.


For the OP...seven years experience versus new hire? C'mon...you can't be serious. People are still trying to figure you out at the one year mark and you're doing this stuff like you've been on the team for years? This won't end well, nor should it.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by sambb » Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:41 pm

You are being oppressed. The question is, are there better alternatives out there? If not, then you are lucky to have this job.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:57 pm

And exactly where are you going to find a job with no office politics? A sole proprietorship with a single employee?

What I have found with many new hires is a great deal of difficulty working in groups with people who may not share their visions entirely. And then when the going gets tough, they bail out to the next job, which of course, will be much better.

I truly hope that the players mentioned above are NOT Bogleheads.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by F150HD » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:18 pm

tjhar wrote:I'm an early career person....What should I do?
Ever seen Fight Club? Do what he did in his bosses office before quitting. :happy

Seriously, don't burn bridges, look for new job, move on.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by stlutz » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:30 pm

Any job is a combination of good and bad. Ask your self what are the things you most care about and focus on those. This could be:

Money
recognition
work/life balance
liking the things you work on
liking the people you work with
security
making the world a better place
...

No job provides all or even most of these. You are getting a lot of advice as to what you *should* care about; but message board posters can't tell you what you actually *do* care about.

For example, most jobs that are about making the world a better place have low pay, long hours, and not particularly great job descriptions. Jobs that pay the most don't usually end at 4PM. If you find you are somewhere where you really like the people you work with, you might give up other opportunities so as not to screw that up.

It sounds like from your post that recognition is important to you. That is fine, but be aware that in situations where recognition is important, there are a lot of politics and you you probably need to get better at it. Read some Dale Carnegie. Also read Machiavelli and learn that the person who best follows his advice would never be called "Machiavellian." This is all stuff you didn't learn from your PhD training (just as doctors don't really learn how to run a business office from Med school).

Once you've figured out what you want, start looking for an opportunity that will provide that. It's always easier to look for the better option when you have a paycheck coming in (as you do now). When you don't the most important factor tends to become getting something--anything--that will pay the bills.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by tjhar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:37 pm

I don't really expect people to understand the totality of the situation, since there is a lot of backstory to what's going on.

I'm getting a few advice of "do a good job and you'll be fine" - I'm afraid that's extremely naive. I have no assurances that if I do a good job my contract will be converted to a full-time employee. What I do have is a preponderance of evidence that it may not happen:

1) Talking to a few current and ex-employees who were hired under the same program, some of them had to leave (contract not renewed) even though they were stellar performers. Some of the current ones who are at the end of the contract have still not received word if they will be promoted. This doesn't inspire trust.
2) There doesn't seem to any formal mechanism or commitment in place for hires like us. Yes, in the past the conversion rate was pretty good, but that was when funding situation was better - admittedly this is my mistake because I failed to account for this when accepting this position.
3) Management refusal to have formal evaluation or feedback, even though similar peer employees have had that process. I'm told that I am doing "a good job", but if management can't commit it with official documents I find that to be just a means to shrug me off.

There was also some implied expectations during my interview that I will be the main individual contributor for the specific R&D project that I am hired for - which is why I took the job. In retrospect, I might have misread the situation. It turned out on the first day of the job, I found out the organization hired a more senior person to do my job, and all of my projects are "under" her. It's like entering a new home to find some stranger sleeping in your bed, eating your food, how would you feel? I've even conceded to "losing" this fight with Alice and let her champion the R&D project, because I know I don't have the influence or clout to outshine her. This is why I am so desperately trying to reinvent myself in the organization and find my niche and value. BUT every step of the way I have been blocked/countered by Alice and management - this the part I truly don't understand. I've already "conceded territory" to Alice and acknowledged her superiority and that she will be the face of R&D Method Alpha in the organization. Why then does she keep interfering with my other initiatives and try to be in on it? I am so frustrated because I have totally no ownership of a good promising project that I can call my own.

All this while I have remained as collegial and professional as I can. I don't "blow up" in the office (I'm not that dumb), but admittedly I have blown up in the privacy of my home a few times because I really can't take it anymore, and the last time I had such "anger management issues" was when I was a teenager. Granted, some of my frustrations may be bleeding through my interactions, but I am trying everyday to project a professional image.

There's also a lot of bias against younger professionals from some of the comments here. My comparisons has always been against my peer group, and I will just reiterate that again. I am not expecting the moon, but when I find my peer group advancing in certain ways in their career, and I am not, it concerns me. I have on a few occasions expressed my interest to my manager to want to be involved in the more important aspects of the organization (like what others in my peer group have done), and I have received nothing. Adam just says "sure that's great", and he never follow up, and after a few times of following up and receiving non-committal "yes" responses I just give up.

For the record, in my previous line of work, I was a top contributing member of the lab, AND I frequently gave credit and projects away - this is addressed to some other comments around this topic. I came from a small lab with 6 lab members, and I helped shape the PI's lab research direction, and even "gave way" a few good projects to my colleagues, who went on to further develop it with my guidance, and that helped them land solid R&D jobs in industry. That was my impact as a mere student, and it's totally unfounded to apply the "whiny entitled millennial label" here, because I was performing at a higher-than-normal level before I started my job here. I've tried to take things positively in my organization since I got in, but every move I made has been countered and blocked by my supposed co-workers. I'm in "survival mode" now because I don't know if I will have a job in a year's time - and yes people react differently when they feel threatened.

I'm still trying to find a solution out of this hole. I've thought of several options:
(a) Confronting Alice and telling her to back off, and telling Adam I need a clear distinction on my contributions vs Alice on the projects that I am working on. I have obviously refrained from doing this for obvious reason, but Alice is a person that does not respect professional development "space", and perhaps I should let her know I need my space and I need her to stop encroaching on it.
(b) I'm thinking of moving to a separate department, as all the problems still circle back to Alice and my manager Adam. I'm thinking I'm still new so maybe I can move quickly and I won't affect my long-term career since not much time is "wasted".
(c) Lately, I have also been thinking of jumping ship, but that's really not in my character. I like to stay for a few years to make a positive impact before leaving, but I think the advice to move on is something I will look into more seriously.
Last edited by tjhar on Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by LowER » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:44 pm

.....
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by LowER » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:04 pm

.....
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by pondering » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:09 pm

You write and get responses like you are a PhD level worker.

It does seem like you would have been happier with tenure somewhere.

Short gigs are all too common these days. This may be one of them. Leaving on good terms lets them invite you back someday.
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by MathWizard » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:17 pm

I think that your assessment of the likelihood of you being continued is probably accurate.

I would continue to work there as amiably as possible, and look for a better position elsewhere.

It is possible that you are in too high a level R&D organization to be able to be the main PI
at this stage of your career. If you were in the top 5% of your graduating class, but the organization you
hired on to only hires in the top 5% you may be in the bottom half of their talent pool, with no experience.

If you want to be the main PI fresh out of school, and unless your dissertation made an entirely
new subject like quantum mechanics, you will need to be at a less prestigious employer that is lucky to
be able to get someone in the top few %. Then you will be a treasured commodity, and you can be the PI.
Then you can build your brand, and move up to a more prestigious position.(e.g. maybe 7 years later?)

I wish you good luck.

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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:24 pm

tjhar wrote:I don't really expect people to understand the totality of the situation, since there is a lot of backstory to what's going on.

I'm getting a few advice of "do a good job and you'll be fine" - I'm afraid that's extremely naive. I have no assurances that if I do a good job my contract will be converted to a full-time employee. What I do have is a preponderance of evidence that it may not happen:

1) Talking to a few current and ex-employees who were hired under the same program, some of them had to leave (contract not renewed) even though they were stellar performers. Some of the current ones who are at the end of the contract have still not received word if they will be promoted. This doesn't inspire trust.
2) There doesn't seem to any formal mechanism or commitment in place for hires like us. Yes, in the past the conversion rate was pretty good, but that was when funding situation was better - admittedly this is my mistake because I failed to account for this when accepting this position.
3) Management refusal to have formal evaluation or feedback, even though similar peer employees have had that process. I'm told that I am doing "a good job", but if management can't commit it with official documents I find that to be just a means to shrug me off.

There was also some implied expectations during my interview that I will be the main individual contributor for the specific R&D project that I am hired for - which is why I took the job. In retrospect, I might have misread the situation. It turned out on the first day of the job, I found out the organization hired a more senior person to do my job, and all of my projects are "under" her. It's like entering a new home to find some stranger sleeping in your bed, eating your food, how would you feel? I've even conceded to "losing" this fight with Alice and let her champion the R&D project, because I know I don't have the influence or clout to outshine her. This is why I am so desperately trying to reinvent myself in the organization and find my niche and value. BUT every step of the way I have been blocked/countered by Alice and management - this the part I truly don't understand. I've already "conceded territory" to Alice and acknowledged her superiority and that she will be the face of R&D Method Alpha in the organization. Why then does she keep interfering with my other initiatives and try to be in on it? I am so frustrated because I have totally no ownership of a good promising project that I can call my own.

All this while I have remained as collegial and professional as I can. I don't "blow up" in the office (I'm not that dumb), but admittedly I have blown up in the privacy of my home a few times because I really can't take it anymore, and the last time I had such "anger management issues" was when I was a teenager. Granted, some of my frustrations may be bleeding through my interactions, but I am trying everyday to project a professional image.

There's also a lot of bias against younger professionals from some of the comments here. My comparisons has always been against my peer group, and I will just reiterate that again. I am not expecting the moon, but when I find my peer group advancing in certain ways in their career, and I am not, it concerns me. I have on a few occasions expressed my interest to my manager to want to be involved in the more important aspects of the organization (like what others in my peer group have done), and I have received nothing. Adam just says "sure that's great", and he never follow up, and after a few times of following up and receiving non-committal "yes" responses I just give up.

For the record, in my previous line of work, I was a top contributing member of the lab, AND I frequently gave credit and projects away - this is addressed to some other comments around this topic. I came from a small lab with 6 lab members, and I helped shape the PI's lab research direction, and even "gave way" a few good projects to my colleagues, who went on to further develop it with my guidance, and that helped them land solid R&D jobs in industry. That was my impact as a mere student, and it's totally unfounded to apply the "whiny entitled millennial label" here, because I was performing at a higher-than-normal level before I started my job here. I've tried to take things positively in my organization since I got in, but every move I made has been countered and blocked by my supposed co-workers. I'm in "survival mode" now because I don't know if I will have a job in a year's time - and yes people react differently when they feel threatened.

I'm still trying to find a solution out of this hole. I've thought of several options:
(a) Confronting Alice and telling her to back off, and telling Adam I need a clear distinction on my contributions vs Alice on the projects that I am working on. I have obviously refrained from doing this for obvious reason, but Alice is a person that does not respect professional development "space", and perhaps I should let her know I need my space and I need her to stop encroaching on it.
(b) I'm thinking of moving to a separate department, as all the problems still circle back to Alice and my manager Adam. I'm thinking I'm still new so maybe I can move quickly and I won't affect my long-term career since not much time is "wasted".
(c) Lately, I have also been thinking of jumping ship, but that's really not in my character. I like to stay for a few years to make a positive impact before leaving, but I think the advice to move on is something I will look into more seriously.
Is there a narrative that would describe Alice and Adam's behavior in terms of them trying to help the company rather than being primarily fueled by bad intentions or purely self-serving motivations? If so, what is it?

investingdad
Posts: 1403
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:41 pm

Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by investingdad » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:25 pm

tjhar wrote:
There was also some implied expectations during my interview that I will be the main individual contributor for the specific R&D project that I am hired for - which is why I took the job. In retrospect, I might have misread the situation. It turned out on the first day of the job, I found out the organization hired a more senior person to do my job, and all of my projects are "under" her. It's like entering a new home to find some stranger sleeping in your bed, eating your food, how would you feel?.
Believe me, you're not the first person this has happened to.

In my prior department, my manager and I had a very close working relationship. I had been in the role for about five and a half years. One afternoon we had a meeting with his boss...the department manager and the guy my manager desperately wanted to replace as he climbed the ladder. During the meeting, I said something that irritated his manager. My eyes were opened when my sycophant boss fell in line.

Sure enough, the promotion my boss and I discussed several times before went to a new hire with similar number of years working experience a few months later. No secret to what happened and I was furious.

So I transferred a few months later after tiring of training my newly hired new manager. And have been much happier ever since. I chose to do something and didn't wait long. Since then, department boss retired and old manager took over. So sycophant got what he wanted.

Anyway, just because we aren't telling you what you want to hear, doesn't mean we don't get it, or haven't lived it.

Afty
Posts: 790
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Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by Afty » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:30 pm

Rodc wrote: FWIW: I actively give away credit, even to people who do not really fully deserve it. I do enough good work and have enough recognition that I will do fine if I do not get all the credit. And guess what? People like to work with me and my teams do very well. And so I went from being a solid individual performer to a solid individual performer known for getting others to perform well. I suggest others give it a try. I confess when I decided to do this it felt a little weird and not totally normal, but I knew it was a good idea and it did work. And frankly I need other people to have good ideas; I can't have all the good ideas. And if people make mistakes you can help them by owning them - tell the boss that you know that goof Johnny made was really my mistake (I suggested it, should have caught it, was a natural mistake anyone could have made, etc.). People will want to work with you and you will do well.
I do this as well, and it also works for me. But I think it requires some level of comfort/confidence in your work situation that you're not likely to have as a junior employee.

tjhar
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 3:13 pm

Re: I Hate My Job: Politics at Work (Advice Needed)

Post by tjhar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:35 pm

Bfwolf wrote:Is there a narrative that would describe Alice and Adam's behavior in terms of them trying to help the company rather than being primarily fueled by bad intentions or purely self-serving motivations? If so, what is it?
Yes, I have thought about that angle as well.

I can "understand" Adam's actions from his perspective. He probably wants to facilitate collaboration and cross-pollination of good ideas in his department, which is why he freely shares this information about the initiatives/project that I come up with. From a organizational/management perspective, I can see how "breaking down barriers" is allowing information and ideas to travel quickly can make the organization more nimble and flexible. The problem is that he is doing it at my expense (in my opinion). I have barely started in the organization, and I need to make a name for myself. Something to the effect of "tjhar is a relatively new hire, but he's the expert in ABC" I still have not achieved that status - and to pre-empt the millennials counterpoint, yes some of those in my peer group, Brian for example, already have their own "personal brand" - it also helps that his manager has given him space to grow and he is not closely shadowed by his co-workers.

I can also "understand" Alice's actions. As a new hire like me, she is also trying to prove her worth to the organization. The problem is that we are both competing (in my opinion) for the same pie. She is basically initiating collaborations to increase her value and influence in the organization - stuff that I would have done, I just did not expect her to move so quickly, and also behind my back, especially after we had that horse-trading discussion on how to share credit. Whether she is doing it intentionally or unintentionally, the fact remains that her professional growth is choking mine. I really don't know how to deal with this kind of zero sum game, when I have the odds quite badly stacked against me.

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