Always Carry Back-Up

There is, in every office, I believe, that one guy who thinks he knows everything.  Undoubtedly, this comes from the fact that he has been promoted several times and is now officially a “big wig.”  There is a 99.9% chance that you are smarter than he is.  This point will be proven several times, as you fix his mistakes, carry him on projects, and clean up his messes, resulting in the raging success of all of his project endeavors.  This will lead to the undesirable side effect of making him look good in the eyes of upper management.  This guy is also what I like to call a pusher.  He’s not pushing drugs.  He’s pushing you…in front of any bus that happens to veer his way. 
There is a solution to dealing with this corporate super villain.  It comes in the form of defensive strategic communication. 
Defensive Step 1:  Get it in Writing (aka: CYOA)
If he passes you in the hallway and asks you to change that contract amount by $3,000, ask him to shoot you an email.  File said email in a safe place, just in case.  If he doesn’t send you said email, then send him one.  Be overly informative in this email.  Use language that clearly defines what you did, why you did it, and how that will likely affect other items.  Call him out using pronouns.  Be direct, professional, and friendly.  Then properly file your sent email somewhere safe. 
You asked me yesterday to reduce the contract amount of the XYZ contract by $3,000.  I have done so at your request, but please, be advised that this reduces the total contract amount to $15,000 and drops our profit margin below the typical 15% that we receive on a service contract.  Let me know if this was on purpose or if further contract adjustments need to be made.” 
Defensive Step 2:  Prove It
As I discussed earlier, this guy thinks he knows everything.  What this means to you, is that you never go into battle with him unarmed.  Always carry back-up.  What separates you from him, is that your argument is supported with data.  You have system requirements that show why what he is asking you to do will cause problems.  You have spreadsheets and charts and graphs that clearly explain where your projections come from.  You have an organized inbox where you have neatly filed all of the emails from the customer detailing their requirements and can recall them with a single click.  You have data.  You know how to harness the power of this data, and in the end, it will be his kryptonite.


  1. I think I know this guy...At least we have one at work just like him. I had to learn the hard way to get everything in writing!

  2. It is a shame that it comes down to that sometimes, but unfortunately, it can be a necessary evil.