Paranoia: Be Alert, Not Alarmed

Whenever I have worked in companies going through restructures, that contain vicious politics (or even with a Manager that pushes around their reports) I have noticed that it can be very easy to be paranoid.

One great Manager that I have worked with was a really good person – however they reported to a very mean and vicious manager above them.  The vicious person was not only petty, but really gained delight from putting people down (they were really a nasty piece of work!).

Anyway, this Great Manager would get beaten up by their boss and as a result, sometimes would act like a “Kicked Puppy”.  That is, you can walk up to them asking a question – and out of pain and frustration they would often attack you or defend themselves against something random that they think you are going to criticize them for.

I felt really sorry for this person in the respect that they were extremely competent and good-natured, but had trouble standing up to their manager and as a result lived as their “Doormat”.  Still, this vicious manager was so dogmatic – unless you are really on-top they are quite a challenge to take on (but it was certainly possible and eventually done).

This Good Natured Manager was often quite Paranoid about most things to the point where it really impacted their performance, quality of life, relationship with other staff and their General Reputation.

After working in some tough companies, I have learnt (the hard way!) the Coalitions old advertising campaign made some sense:

– “Be Alert, But not Alarmed”.

There are two extremes here.  You can’t be paranoid and attack everyone else first, but at the same time you can’t sit under a Rainbow with your Guitar and pretend that everyone around you is “Honest & Loaded with Integrity”.  I have done that myself and been burnt many times. I think John Howard’s statement is perfect in that:

– Be aware and observe what is going on, so you don’t get manipulated.

– But don’t think that someone has poisoned your lunch milk (unless you have run over someone’s dog and burnt their house down).

At times I have been “So Positive” and have ignored my own instinct.  Well! Didn’t I pay for that in more ways than one! Whether you like it or not, there are some sharks in the fishing tank! * Many thanks to Alexandra Bellink from Flickr for the great pic.