Friday, October 10, 2008

Scorched Earth Tactics

Let's say you're competing with a co-worker for promotion to director. You've been there longer, have more experience. You had some big achievements early on, but lately you've been treading water, coasting on your reputation.

Your competing co-worker is younger and less experienced, but she's sharp and full of ideas, and has brought in new business while saving the company money. The other people who work there respect you, but they really like her.

The big boss hasn't announced the promotion yet, but you can read the writing on the wall: you're losing to the upstart new girl.

You could keep competing, sharpening your arguments for yourself, maybe come up with some new ideas of your own, but you know it's no use.

You start spreading rumors about the woman who's about to become the new director. She never talks about her personal life - what's she hiding? Remember the money that disappeared last year? Wasn't she friends with the accountant who got fired for it? She's always pretending to "help" other people, but she's really stealing their work. If she were director, she'd destroy this place. Headquarters would shut us down and fire everybody. Do we really want to take that risk?

You know it won't work - she's getting the promotion. But now that you've got everybody suspicious and worried and angry, there's no way she'll ever be a success. She's going to fail. What you've done might destroy the company, too, but what do you care? The company rejected you for promotion - fuck it.

Or maybe the atmosphere will get so poisonous from your rumor-mongering that the big boss decides that promoting anyone would cause so much dissent that it would hurt the company, and just cancels it.

Ridiculous? Look around; it's happening right in front of your eyes.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....