The Blog of Dabido (the Baka one). Everything in this blog is copyrighted. Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006 by D. Stevenson.

23 May, 2006

Burning Bridges

A slightly more serious post today, mainly as Squidocious suggested I place this comment from FStress site as a post. I think it's a good idea as well ... so here it is. Slightly re-written (but not much) just to get it into a little context. PLUS, List of things to write about so far stands at 3:
  1. Harry Potter send up
  2. Hobbit Send up
  3. Wuthering Heights send up
As per the last two days, you can either suggest something else for me to add to my list, or ask me five questions (as per the game, and I ask you five in return!) :-) BURNING BRIDGES For those who missed the comments at FStress page, we had a discussion about whether one should burn bridges or not. In context, it was specifically concerning work related things. I have seen people burn bridges when leaving an office fo a new office, one guy claimed he was a BIG FISH and the rest of us were a lot of little fishes in a little pond. His leaving speach consisted of a lot of underhanded insults that had the basic meaning of 'I am the best' and 'you are a lot of losers'. He obviously believed in his superiority and everything, as a few years later he expected us all to welcome him back with open arms (once he got fired from the company he'd gone to). Imagine his surprise when he tried to get his old job back and the managers said,'No'. He was a little shocked, because after all, in his mind, he was the best thing whcih had ever happened to the company. So, what should someone do when they are confronted by an EVIL manager who has little regard for their underlings? The sort of manager who thinks nothing of walking over people, squashing them down with their heal and trying to crush their spirits? Should we leave in a blaze of glory burning a bridge, knowing we will never return???? It's true that the evil manager has burnt his bridge at hsi end, but that's no reason forthe rest of us to burn the same bridge. One place I worked, one of the managers burnt his bridge badly with me, but he was always asking me if I'd go back and work for him. I always refused politely. So, you see, NOT burning the bridge kept me in good with everyone, but him burning his bridge meant I never had to work under him and put up with his crap again. As Francis Bacon said, 'Knowledge is power', and as Frank Herbert said, 'As soon as you use a power, you lose that power.' In a situation that you burn the bridge with someone who has burnt the bridge with you, you no longer have any power over your decisions. That person can make your life a living hell if you are openly hostile to them. Plus, a lot of people never understand the open hostility. Keeping the knowledge that they have burnt that bridge with you a secret, you can always avoid that person whenever possible without others knowing you are doing so. It also stops them having some sort of extra personal glee that they are torturing you. If you move companies and are working somewhere else, and you end up working with people who are friends of that manager, you have also destroyed your reputation with people you've never worked with before. If you move companies and your new company has dealings with the evil manager, you can also use your position to subvert contracts with the old company. You are in a position to go with another company you'd prefer to work with. As such, you have knowledge you can use and a power over that person that even they don't realise. Open hostile towards people, similar to what GW Bush did in declaring everyone he disliked a member of the Axis of evil often closes the diplomatic door. [Apologies to all American Citizens for that example!] :-) Just remember, a LOT of working life is politics and people networking. Not burning bridges gets you further than burning them, as you would slowly isolate yourself, no matter how good a worker you are. [Look how isolated GW looks most of the time in the eyes of the world.] There is also a possibilty of being THROWN into working with the person again where it cannot be avoided. It's better to be on good terms in order to get things done than to be in a hostile position where they'll try to make you a scapegoat. When I was in Sydney, there were many situations where I ended up working for people who knew other people I'd worked for, or even when I worked with the wife of a guy I'd previously worked with. If you HAVE to burn a bridge, you really have to make sure that you come out looking like a rose at the end of it. That way even the managers friends think you were justified. Often people never see the 'bad side' of their friends, so burning a bridge can lead to people mistakenly thinking you have a personality disorder instead of them seeing what's really happened. It's a matter of chosing the right battle at the right time. Believe me, I've told managers to 'F*ck off!' at the top of my lungs before (which is technically a sackable offence), yet come out looking like a hero in everyones eyes as they all saw it as justified. Not everyone can do that and still retain their job. [And no, I didn't burn that bridge, as the guy apologised to me in private, and I accepted his apology. I also made sure the rest of my colleagues KNEW about the fact he'd apologised. Of course I had a good enough credibility that my work colleagues could believe me when I told them that too]. Like it or not, image is a part of our working life, and if you start burning bridges you begin to get a reputation for being difficult or even a malcontent. It doesn't mean we prostitute ourselves to make ourselves look like corporate whores either. Like I said, I've told Managers to F*ck Off before. I took on the last company I worked for with Lawyers and everthing as well, but, I made sure a lot of bridges never got burned. That is why my last manager in Sydney spent a good two to three years asking for me to return to Sydney to work for his company. Work can be a lot of stupid games and stuff with a lot of stupid managers and workmates we'd prefer not to work with, but at the end of the day, there will always be difficult people somewhere at work. [Some places just seem to collect them though!] Handling difficult people can lead to LOTS of kudos from a lot of other people, and many of those other people can and will remember it when they move higher in the corporate ladder. It's those who remember it and give you due respect who will in turn help you up the corporate ladder. Sometimes that help might come from unexpected places. For Example: At one company I worked for, my immediate manager thought I was the best thing since sliced cheese. The manager next up from him didn't think much of me as he was one of these managers who didn't understand that computers can't read minds. He thought computer could spit out any information you want in the format you want at a touch of a button. (Even less chance of it happening then, as it was prior to the internet). I was forever trying to explain to him that I had to get the computer to do calculations on the raw data, and then format it for the print out before the computer could churn out the information he wanted. He'd alwasy be going, 'No, you just hit a button.' One day I asked him which button I needed to hit to get the information he wanted in the format he wanted. He just gave me an incredulous look and told me that he didn't know and that was what I was supposed to know! Ai Carumba! Anyway, this manager tried to block a payrise my immediate manager had given me. One of the reasons for the payrise, was I'd written a graphing program that my predecessor had spent months trying to write, but couldn't. Our computer department had claimed it was impossible, and an outside company had requested over ten thousand dollars to do it. I sat down and wrote it (while doing my other work) in two weeks. You'd think all the managers would have given me kudos. Alas, not the manager who didn't like me. Fortunately for me, the manager next up from him noticed this guy was trying to take away my pay rise. After all, they'd wanted the program written for years, and I'd done it in my spare time in two weeks. He immediately award me the payrise. This caused the manager who had tried to block it to go off his head and DEMAND that I not get the payrise. In the end, of course I got it. I only knew about this, as my immediate manager had been in the room when it had all occurred. So, in a way it was unexpected, as I never realised that the manager three up from me actually noticed my work. He had, and it paid off. I still didn't burn my bridges with the other manager who didn't like me, because after all, I never knew if I was going to end up working for his allies in the company. Conclusion: Don't burn bridges if you can help it. You never know when you may need that bridge to cross back.