Women in Tech

Peer politics

Microsoft Nerrd
Dec 7, 2018

I’m really good at what I do. When I’m on a team, I find people are very nice until they realize I’m really good. Once they know this, some peers start attacking me and then the politics get really hard to handle. I’m not interested in a fight so I usually try to ignore or not get in other people’s way or give them what they want. Whenever I have had a strong manager supporting me, I’m usually unharmed. But, otherwise, people are able to do mean things like give wrong feedback, talk behind your back, take credit for my work etc. I have been feeling discouraged and depressed by this happening. When I find it difficult I usually leave the team. Any advice on how to handle this? I’m a senior PM.

I have 6 years of experience. L63 235k TC

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  • New / Eng- -
    People do not attack whose who are 'really good at what they do'. You are omitting important details about your personality or most probably do not see what problem is to address it correctly.
    Dec 7, 20185
    • Zendesk Magicmahn
      Agreed, there are some missing details here. What I’d suggest is to take a long hard look at yourself and try to see things objectively. Are you stepping on others to be “really good at what you do”? What feedback are they giving you and why do you assume it’s “wrong feedback?”
      Dec 7, 2018
    • Capital One / Engdesu
      What is envy?
      How do people deal with it?
      What is a zero sum game?
      What is office politics?
      Dec 7, 2018
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      The feedback is things like I did not send things to them when I clearly know I did, or some very minor things like I was late to a meeting blown out of proportion etc. I really go out of the way to make sure I’m not doing anything to cause an issue for others. I think people feel like they can get away with this because I don’t react when they do this to me.
      Dec 7, 2018
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      I’m sure I’m missing something here. Maybe this is expected behavior at work by others. If something goes wrong, they always try to blame me for it. I find it hard to fight back, when people deliberately say incorrect things, like I missed communicating when I did. If it’s on email I respond with the email, but if said behind my back to my manager and I later find out it bothers me.
      Dec 7, 2018
    • Qualtrics OkLd no I
      People definitely attack those who are good at what they do.
      Dec 7, 2018
  • Capital One / Engdesu
    There's an HBR (Harvard Business Review) series on office politics.
    You might want to try that out?
    I don't think you can just ignore office politics though
    Dec 7, 20181
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      Thanks. Will try it out
      Dec 7, 2018
  • Microsoft / EngwerpAderp
    TLDR: “I’m great people hate me”
    Dec 7, 20183
    • Capital One / Engdesu
      In middle school, wasn't it typically the stupid that bullied the intelligent?
      I can only imagine that seeing a kid next to you getting a much higher grade would be a source of envy or jealousy
      Dec 7, 2018
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      I did not mean it in a boastful manner. I was just saying I really care about my work and do it well.
      Dec 7, 2018
    • Microsoft / EngwerpAderp
      It came across as self important. Most of us care about our work, and I’ve never seen folks backstab like you say. If you’re that good, backstabbing/trash talking wouldn’t matter.

      You’re leaving something out, so it’s really hard to provide any useful thoughts to your Q.

      Regardless, best of luck
      Dec 7, 2018
  • All of what you described is bullying in the workplace. You must stand up for yourself and confront, in a professional and semi private way. The only way to make it stop is to expose the truth for what it is. It is even acceptable for some else to take credit for your work. Secondly, talking behind your back is not acceptable either, call that person out and ask them if there is anything they would like to discuss face to face? Same goes from wrong feedback. In today's day and age you must learn to stick up for yourself of they will always treat you like a door mat.
    Dec 8, 20181
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      Thanks for understanding. This is exactly what’s going on.
      Dec 8, 2018
    • New / Eng- -
      OP's job is some kind of inter team coordination. Not exactly BS job, but it definitely has no upside and no peer respect. OP should move to more human friendly area: any kind of management.
      Dec 8, 2018
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      It’s easier for people to Bully in this type of role. This particular team is really bad. I’m looking for another job now.
      Dec 8, 2018
  • Facebook Whateverrs
    I've been taught that there's no such thing as "wrong feedback." if you're in an environment that's so toxic people are outright lying about you, leave, but it's highly unlikely that's the case across multiple teams. Far more likely people are expressing their impressions honestly, and just maybe expressing them poorly. You need to take those impressions seriously, and manage those impressions.

    If someone says they didn't get information from you that you know you sent, next time double up on it, send reminders, setup a meeting to discuss the email, ask for their input on the email, or figure out if email just isn't the best medium to communicate with that person. Arguing about the fact that you did send the info isn't actually productive and isn't actually the issue.

    Ask for feedback. Study effective feedback techniques and ask for the specific points on their feedback that would make the feedback actionable.

    Find a team with a competent manager who can help you navigate the feedback. If the underlying issue is that people just don't like you, figure out why and what you can change about that.

    The presumption that the issue is envy kinda hints that the problem could be cockiness. Maybe people view you as arrogant. Again, it doesn't matter if you "are" arrogant, only if that perception exists and what you might be able to do to change that perception. Ask your manager for help figuring out why people have a negative impression of you and try to isolate behaviors that gave people that impression.

    Presumably the other PMs aren't all either sucking at their jobs or have some secret politics trick that makes everyone like them.
    Dec 7, 20181
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. I will use the techniques you suggested and see if it helps. If you worked with me you would know I’m not even close to being arrogant, but more quiet and introverted which makes it easier for people to attack, as they know they might be able to get away with it. Not everyone on all teams behaves this way, just a few people. I wish it didn’t bother me so much.
      Dec 7, 2018
  • Google oioioioio
    You may need to manage others’ expectations so they really see you as being on their side. You can do this by being community focused or team focused through constant actions that demonstrate pro social behaviors and being supportive. To get more concrete actions you can do, you can look up how to promote psychological safety on your team. You can also try learning about different styles of leadership, maybe there is an empathetic style that will help limit the amount that others feel threatened and instead - they will see you as a teammate that will be on their side.
    Dec 7, 20181
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      I’m not sure how exactly to do this. My dev teams and partner teams really like me and have always given very positive feedback. I have problems only with peer PMs. It gets worse on teams when the manager already has his friends as his directs.
      Dec 7, 2018
  • Microsoft / Product@zzz
    Question your assumptions. Things like "I am really good at what I do". Maybe others don't agree with that.
    Dec 7, 20181
    • Microsoft Nerrd
      OP
      I don’t honestly think that’s the issue. I get great feedback from my devs, partners and the people I work with. It is the peers, my managers other directs who I don’t work with a lot who make up these wrong things. It starts or gets worse when I’m being given better opportunities etc.
      Dec 7, 2018
  • Apple Dhehd2423
    Try carpenter. Or at least engineer. Try to do work that actually not bullshit, you’ll be happier
    Dec 8, 20180

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