I'm calling Al Sharpton for advice.

I’m probably the last person who’s got any right to claim discrimination in the workplace let alone play a race card.

Except for the fact that I’m a white, educated, reasonably successful and otherwise demographically average middle aged male in a company with a predominantly female, well educated, culturally mixed but apparently anti-male culture.

My nature is generally relaxed, friendly but somewhat reserved in that I don’t get into people’s grills about their personal life or issues which have nothing to do with why we’re gathered five days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day in one place.

I can chit chat on a friendly basis about weekend plans, vacation ideas, weather, surface family stuff as far as how many kids and how old and amusing related anecdotes, but that’s it. I don’t complain about ex-spouses, current spouses, in-laws, out-laws, who I’m dating or anything that is remotely personal and private.

I don’t pop my head into offices while people are working to interrupt their day with my idle thoughts or office gossip. I don’t gather gossip, nor to I repeat it when it’s shared with me. I simply ignore it. Same with office politics. Who said/did what to whom is of no interest to me unless it’s got to do with my projects and requires some kind of action/response from me.

I give advice when I’m asked. I share information or my (informed) opinion when I think it contributes positively to a discussion at hand. When I have nothing of value to add I find it best to say nothing.

Yet, somehow this behaviour, which has worked well for me in other corporate cultures is really playing against me in this particular organization.

In being considered for a senior level position, one of the women who squarely fits into the category of people I described above, basically accused me of being anti-social and too quiet. Not a “team player” is the term I believe she used.

It seems to me that in order to appear a team player, I must join the customary hand wringing, emotional outbursts, sweet talking, feeling sharing, group think koom-bah-ya mentality that is pervasive at this company.

I don’t mean to sound like a misogynist. I don’t believe for a second that all women in a professional carreer setting are like this particular group. I’ve had the pleasure to work with some very sharp minded and impressive women in both senior and junior level positions. But this bunch here… I just don’t get.

They resent my expert opinion on IT topics. Use “business requirement” as a club to explain every suspect decision that I gingerly raise as a potential issue. Their entire self worth seems to be wrapped up in their stature and standing in this company. Any opinion contrary to popular thought is seen as, and I quote, a “Very Strong Statement”, which requires explaining and justification. Any attempt to do so is dismissed as an opinion based on a lack of knowledge of the “corporate business culture”.

Now, lest anyone assume that I’m imagining all this; a few men who have worked here longer than I (some of whom have already left) have shared similar observations with me and specifically told be to be aware of the corporate culture I’ve just described. I’m very aware that their warning may have prejudiced me to look for certain traits but I am not easily influenced and tend to disregard these kinds of blanket statements because I find them to be inaccurate most of the time.

So my question is: How do I deal with this kind of situation? Personal experiences and helpful advice would be most appreciated.

>But this bunch here… I just don’t get.

And you’re looking for some clue as to how someone could think you’re not a team player, right?

I’m not a team player. I’m not a glory hound either. I always give credit where/whn credit is due. Always.

I don’t want to participate in group hugs or congratulatory ass slapping and glad handing. Team building exercises are for people who require constant validation and feedback. I don’t need a lot of maintenance or attention. I just want to do my job well and for others to do the same. We don’t need to be a big happy family to get that done, do we?

First off, let me say that in sequential thread titles, we have “My bum hurts” followed by “I’m calling Al Sharpton for advice.” :smiley:

I think I understand where you’re coming from - you want to do your job to the best of your ability, and let your work speak for yourself, not have to shmooze your way to the top of your organization. I’m very much that way myself - if I had to butt-kiss to get a promotion, I would never get anywhere (which is pretty much how it’s gone). I probably wouldn’t even be aware that I was expected to butt-kiss.

My personal experience and advice? You’re probably not going to get very far in this company because you don’t fit in. It’s not right, but it’s the way it is sometimes. Enjoy your job, play it any way you see fit, but don’t expect long-term gains here.

If it means anything, I’m female and my behavior at work sounds like yours. And I’ve been told the same thing at certain companies – that I don’t socialize enough, chit-chat enough, hang out with the gang at lunch, etc. The place in particular where they saw it as a problem was an advertising agency (I’m a programmer but they wanted the programmers to act like ad people, too). So it’s not necessarily a female vs. male kind of thing. However, in your situation, what probably makes it worse it that most of the people around you sound like they have different topics of interest that you do. Frankly, in my experience, there’s nothing to be done about it except to take a job somewhere else, when you find one. You can’t / don’t want to change you entire personality to humor them, and they’ve already shown they don’t feel comfortable around someone who likes their privacy.

If you get the promotion would you still be working around the same people you currently are? Or rather, if you get the promotion, will you be working under anyone that already knows you and knows that office (sorry, don’t know how corporate office management works). Your first post was quite well worded, if you typed it up and changed some things around, and sent it to the person who is considering you for the job and might go a long way when the other person tries to tell them why you shouldn’t have that job. Or as other people have said, it may not be fair, but this might just not be the place for you. Even if what they’re saying about you isn’t fair game, it doesn’t matter, it’s not your game and you don’t get to make the rules.

(And to play devil’s advocate for just a second, if what you doing is considered anti-social, and they want someone social, even if you do get the job, it probably won’t be a good fit and you won’t be happy.)

God, I hate the whole “one big happy family” corporate subculture. I go there to do a job. I don’t dislike the people I work with, but I don’t really need to know all about their lives to do my job. And I just want to do my job and then go home to MY family. When did the workplace become this great big happy family thing?

You are so correct. I agree that some “teamwork” is necessary at work. If I am playing baseball, I do need to have that cutoff man there to take the throw. That doesn’t mean I need to “bond” with him 365 days per year.

When they stopped giving us proper benefits and treating us like human beings, but didn’t want anyone to notice so they started blowing smoke up our asses about how good they were to work for, and how well they treat their employees, and we’re all one big happy family.

My husband’s company is terrible for this - they invite the spouses to every social event and make a big production of telling us how much they appreciate our sacrifices. You know what’s even better than being told how much you appreciate our sacrifices? Hiring enough people so that my husband doesn’t have to work 50 hour + weeks.

Thanks all. Keep it coming.

It’s helpful to know that I’m not completely out of my skull and that other people experience similar things in their work place as well as share a common outlook.

If I do get this promotion, and the deck seems to be stacked against it, I will be a superior (in rank) to some of the people I’ve described, or an equal to others. Most will not report to me as they are in parallel departments. It’s a director position with a direct report to the CIO.

It’s also worth mentioning that the biggest objectors seem to be a couple of people who’s project were handed off to me when I joined 3 months ago and who probably resent the fact that I was able to hit the ground running, deliver on time and on budget with minimal assistance/transition/ reliance on them. I may sound self congratulatory but I do have 18 years of IT experience and have participated on projects far more complex than the ones handed off to me here.

Oh man, your competence is so going to work against you here. You’re threatening people there, by doing your job so efficiently and well. I really hope you get the promotion, but when people are threatened, they don’t behave logically.

The good news is that the two users who’s projects I successfully implemented are part of the decision and interview process and they are quite happy with my performance. They are VP level employees and their decisions weigh heavily in this process. The CIO (acting) also seems to like me. He and I interact regularly and he seems to understand that I’ve got the skills and knowledge he really needs to make his team successful. Unfortunately, he is politically weak with next to no IT background. He overcompensates by focusing on minor, unimportant details because of his lack of IT experience. The micromanagement is a bit annoying but not something I can’t handle. It’s his lack of intellect and leadership skills that’s going to be the biggest challenge to overcome if I am selected for the promotion.

[grammar hijack] QuickSilver, I’m only doing this because I love you, man. When you are indicating possession, it’s “whose”, not “who’s.” If you can’t expand the contraction to who is (or it is), then it’s whose (or its). Take your sentence for example - “the two users who is projects…”? Nope. Wrong one.

And I’m not even going to bother proofreading for mistakes in this post. I bow to the power of Gaudere. [/grammar hijack]

I agree with you that your CIO’s lack of management skills is going to be a challenge. Maybe you can lead by following - make it your business to guide him, while leading him to think he’s the one making the decisions. That could be very Machiavellian.

Sounds like it’s time to ditch those bims and work for a company that appreciates your competence and professionalism.

In my experience, corp culture doesn’t change much over time. I’ve seen asshole companies hire the “new breed,” who turn out, surprise, to be assholes too.

Good luck in finding something good for you. Have you thought about starting your own business?


Thanks. :slight_smile:

I love you too. :stuck_out_tongue:

<sigh> I just got here… Though you’re probably more right than I care to admit right now. This isn’t meant to last. However, if I manage to pull this off, it’s going to look damn good on my resume and this place… like every place that came before it… will be a stepping stone. Not sure to what, but it’s all a journey to me. :slight_smile:

I’ve always liked that idea. That kind of behind the scenes influence has always held a certain amount of appeal to me. <sinister smiley> MWAA-HA-HA-HA-HAAA

My immediate reaction? You should quit. Really.

I know, and I certainly understand how you feel, but I think that not fitting in with the corporate culture is a perfectly legitimate reason to move on kind of soon. I don’t think that potential employers would hold it against you, either – at least, not anyone you’d want to work for (and I’ve been on the other side of the interview table).

If you’re not a good fit at that company, you’re not a good fit: once you acknowledge that, it’s in everyone’s best interests if you move on (if you can, of course). And now you’ll have one more thing to know to ask about at your next interview.

No matter what you do, though, the situation kind of sucks. Sorry. :frowning:

If they were someone you wanted to date, what would you do? Now quit shuddering, date in a strictly platonic way, sort of how you imagine the Amish date. Basically all the sweet things you do to get a woman to look at you favorably, so that you will have a better chance of success when you ask her out. You can probably think of a few things that will give the illusion of warm fuzzies without leaving your comfort zone.

Break down and have lunch with the group a couple of times a week. Go out for drinks every so often. The reality is that they want warm fuzzies and the path is going to be long and difficult if you don’t get with the fuzzy. Try to think of it as a tool to further your career, which is a skill you’ll need anywhere, even your own company. Visualize each lunch as a step higher on your career ladder. Yes it’s stupid, so what? It won’t kill ya. Probably.

If all else fails, bring in baked goods. Say you’re taking a cooking class or something and go buy some box mixes-- there’s tons of good ones these days, if you don’t actually bake. You might want to work up to keeping a candy dish eventually, because that is a commitment and may bring people in too close for comfort. Bring in cookies, say there’s too many for you to eat by yourself, or that they’re a new kind of Oreos and you think they’re great and want to share. When they complain about calories, shmooze!

Maybe they’ve written an update of *How to Win Friends and Influence People * for the corporate world? Corporate fuzzies for Dummies? It might be tough in the beginning, but you could find you enjoy it (or don’t hate it) once you find what works for them and for you. It’s worth a try at least.

Sound advice for career advancement. I preside over a large division for a Fortune 500 corp and have dispensed similar advice to several of our wonkish, left-brain types. Truth be told, many of the OP’s colleagues probably see him rightly or wrongly as cold, detached, aloof, unfeeling, indifferent, possibly snobbish and definitely not someone they want to work for. Blame culture or no, but you can’t ignore it and not playing well with others–even if that means doing things that strike you as imbecilic–will only torpedo your career. You can either play the game and thrive, ignore the game and suffer, but you can’t reinvent the culture. It takes so little to earn goodwill from colleagues and can advance a career far faster than technical prowess alone.