Game of power - what’s my best move?

Jun 11 51 Comments

Players:
Me (Director), A(Sr Director), B(Director), CTO, CEO

Theme:
We are hiring a VP of engineering, who will report to CTO and manages all 3 Directors. It’s been several months, now the rumor says VP will be promoted from within.

Relationships:
-[updated] CEO was recently brought in by Board, CTO was a oldtimer. I am newly hired too. The VP who hired me left the company before my start date.
- [updated] CEO doesn’t like the inefficiency in the engineering org.
- CEO likes my vision on how to change the org.
- CTO favors A. They are buddies.
- B is A’s yes man.
- CTO doesn’t like me, because I am close to CEO.
- A acts as if he is the interim boss of the engineering department, and one of my direct report sided with him.
- On the surface, we are polite to each other.

Current situation:
- CEO told me he will make B report to me and split the engineering org. Not many people know I have CEO’s favor. The traitor in my team didn’t know that.
- A & B & CTO are working behind my back to sabotage me, taking away my projects, muting me within the company. They don’t know CEO’s plan yet, and they want to put A on VP position.
- I have some ammunition (hard evidence) to report to HR to get A in trouble, but not enough to get him fired.

Next move:
What’s the best move to maximize my chance in this power play? Should I start the explicit fight to get rid of A?

If you were me and win, will you fire B and the traitor direct report?

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TOP 51 Comments
  • If you’re having this much politics so early on in a startup, just leave.

    The company will shut down or get sold for far less than what investors paid (meaning you get nothing except if you have a deferred payment). The titles will mean diddly squat.
    Jun 11 2
    • New / Eng blindor
      I’ve seen this happen
      Jun 11
    • OP
      Not too small. 600 people, 300 engineers. Well-funded company.
      Jun 11
  • Microsoft
    dilf

    Microsoft

    PRE
    Facebook, Amazon, Google
    dilfmore
    The only move is to incapacitate A (mame or kill), humiliate B (does he have a wife or daughter?), and bend over for the CTO. Assert your dominance OP, go get that title!
    Jun 11 1
    • Groupon irchin
      This is so disturbing- humiliate B (does he have a wife or daughter?)

      WTF?!
      Jun 11
  • New / Eng blindor
    You seem to love using “big” titles
    Jun 11 1
  • American Express vista133
    Reality is Player A is better placed than you for VP role because:
    1. A is higher than you (Sr Director vs you Director)
    2. It is a VP of engineering role so CTO "should be" the decision maker. And he is not on your side.
    3. CEO had to be friend with everyone one and needs the CTO more than he needs you. You might just have wrong perception here.

    Recommendation: reconnect with the 3, A, B, and CTO, be team player, support CTO in his decision and be patient OR leave...
    Jun 11 4
    • OP
      This makes a lot sense. I updated more backgrounds in main post, wish it doesn’t expose myself.

      CEO doesn’t like the way the company is currently run, lots of inefficiency and lack of meaningful shipping. CEO likes my vision on how to change the org.
      Jun 12
    • Intel oppjhv
      Don’t think OP can switch back and make friends with his opponents.
      Jun 12
    • American Express vista133
      Why not? Fixing a broken relationship is a great asset to build/have... it takes to put ego away and picture the personal gain and happiness one can achieve from it.
      Jun 12
    • Intel oppjhv
      How naive you are: You are just saying surrender to your enemy and betray your ally(ceo). Who would respect that kind of people?
      7d
  • New / Eng 00001111
    Pee on your department floor to mark your territory, they should get the message
    Jun 11 0
  • Google uzaname
    A makes VP, you make Sr Dir, B reports to you
    Jun 11 2
    • American Express vista133
      Exactly what I meant above... thanks for excellent summary ;-)
      Jun 11
    • OP
      A considers me as the biggest threat, if he wins, he will make my life difficult. I have to leave.

      If I win, same thing will happen to B and the traitor.
      Jun 12
  • Airbnb xAIx00
    Can’t wait for a blind post from A or ‘the traitor’
    Jun 11 2
    • American Express vista133
      True! we have only OP perspective. The other side of the story is mostly like to be very very different...
      Jun 11
    • Qantas / Eng sjdjdujebj
      They probably all hate OP for being a snake.
      Jun 12
  • Qualcomm tempQc
    Well articulated post, good work.

    Just keep in mind that you will still be reporting to the same CTO when the dust settles. It may be okay to lose the battle for the war!
    Jun 11 1
    • OP
      That’s why I am hesitant to turn in his buddy to HR.
      Jun 11
  • New litasf
    Great cards you are having there man. Interesting plot.
    Jun 11 2
    • OP
      You meant CEO card?
      Jun 11
    • GitHub djdjkkzzz
      Not so great. OP is in a weird position
      Jun 12
  • Jet.com mkuL05
    This sounds horrible. If I were you I would just quit and go buy a farm.
    Jun 11 4
    • OP
      You can’t avoid Politics in corporations.
      Jun 11
    • Jet.com mkuL05
      Yes you can. Just do your job and go home. Let your work stand for itself. If that doesn’t get you promoted, then find a company where it will. Your integrity is worth more than a fancy title and a large paycheck.
      Jun 12
    • Qantas / Eng sjdjdujebj
      Some people work in big corporations FOR the politics. If they didn't we wouldn't have politics.
      Jun 12
    • Intel oppjhv
      Jet.com must be new to workforce, or stayed low level forever. You get involved in politics inevitably, when you climb up the ladder (don’t have to be managers). Who owns the critical projects, who present to the executives, who gets promoted. You have to fight your way up gracefully. Doing your work well and hoping you will naturally stand out? This is a fantasy. There is always less opportunity than # of people.
      Jun 12
  • Google uzaname
    Dude. One small detail. If you are buddies with your CEO, why do you consider going to HR? What could they do more than telling CEO?
    Jun 11 1
    • OP
      Even CEO can’t just get rid of someone for no reason. I am not his buddy. Both of us are relatively new to the company. He likes my vision and doesn’t like the inefficiency in the engineering org.

      Starting a HR process is to give CEO a reason to disqualify A.
      Jun 12
  • If you are telling me that the cto of a 600 people startup with 300 engineers is jealous of a director who is close to the ceo, i would say you are living in your alice in wonderland. Ceo and cto probably spend hours together everyday and depend on each other to run the company.
    Jun 11 1
    • OP
      CEO was brought in by Board, CTO was a oldtimer. I am newly hired too. The VP who hired me left the company before my start date. CEO and CTO are definitely not friends. Maybe CTO see me as traitor, even though I had only two 1:1s with him for the entire time. CTO meets A more frequently.
      Jun 12
  • GitHub djdjkkzzz
    Holy crap. This is a shit show.
    CEO might just use you to disrupt the current structure. Even CEO wins, you will still under CTO’s umbrella. How do you feel your future in this company? So please repair your relationship with CTO, Unless CEO can kick CTO out.

    BTW, this is so much fun compared to any other TC or LC posts.
    Jun 12 0
  • Apple / Eng CodeMonk🐒
    🍿️
    Jun 11 0
  • New / Eng
    unHappyBee

    New Eng

    PRE
    Samsung Electronics
    unHappyBeemore
    Since CEO confides in you, try to collect evidences about CTO mistakes and incompetence...and make sure to point to ceo..

    Let CEO work on paly play hell
    Jun 11 3
    • American Express vista133
      Goodness, don't do that. There is a NO winner in a conflict like that. Even if you think you win, you'll loose a lot in credibility, trust, image ...
      Jun 11
    • OP
      I am not ready to fight CTO. He will be my boss. Small dog doesn’t fight big dog.
      Jun 12
    • Intel oppjhv
      @ unHappyBee This a terrible idea. Let CEO fight his battle with CTO. OP just watch Or fight his small dog opponent.
      Jun 12
  • SEMI osMS13
    I call bs on this. If you are truly close, CEO would remove roadblocks for you. No need to game of thrones and fire people. Just give them meaningless work and scrimp on bonuses.
    Jun 11 1
    • OP
      I agree with 2nd half of your statement, not firing them, just making their life miserable. In the game, you have to prove yourself worth it. CEO is fighting his battle too (maybe at board level), and he won’t just pave the road for me. I need to make his job easier.
      Jun 12
  • Tektronix GfzN06
    Why wouldn’t ceo let the cto make the final call? What’s their relationship like? Anyone else around the ceo and cto you can get to support you with both of them?

    I’d stay away from the HR bit on A. Doubt it will be win win...unless someone else can drop that dime without it coming back to you as the rat...
    Jun 11 1
    • OP
      CEO was brought in by Board not long ago, CTO was a oldtimer. I don’t know exactly how CEO and CTO get long.

      CEO can’t just ignore A, as A is higher in rank than me. CEO also can’t fire A for no reason. I need to go through a formal process to remove A.
      Jun 12
  • eBay ghsoibv
    Are you technical? How’s cto, ceo get along?
    Jun 11 1
    • GitHub djdjkkzzz
      Those guys must be not technical, only political.
      Jun 12
  • Google corollary
    How big is your company?
    Jun 11 1
  • Amazon Jefbeesos
    How long has B been with the company? What are his major contributions? If you are new, they don’t have any data points on you unless B has screwed up big time in the past.

    In the game of powers you either win or you are fired
    Jun 12 0
  • Intel oppjhv
    What did B and the traitor do to make you mad?
    Jun 12 0
  • Intel oppjhv
    Start interview around. When you have another offer, you are
    more confident to engage dog fight. Your success really depends on CEO’s success.
    Jun 12 0
  • eBay abababbb
    Man your work environment seems to suck so much that I would rather get a lower role somewhere else than a VP at your company
    Jun 11 0

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