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I've worked for more than two decades in the IT industry. In recent years, I've started to dislike it more and more. In the beginning it was nice to work closely with other colleagues and it was fun. But recently there is more and more competition between colleagues where they try to use all kind of tricks to discredit you in front of other people and for me this is just a total waste of time. I like to work with other people so we can be a strong team, and not in a battlefield where we fight each other to get promoted.

My recent experiences have made me partly give up the whole idea about working in this industry any more. One of my last cases:

I worked for a small company, helping them to modernize their software development routines, how to make modern software, project management and billing routines. From the very beginning there was a big "fight" against me from the developers, where they tried to discredit every decision I made. I had no problem in answering them with a long technical explanation of why they were wrong in what they were claiming and after a while, they stopped trying to take me down on technical "bullshit".

I always had the trust of the leaders and they always followed my decisions. After I finished my work there, I got in contact with one colleague who explained more about why they have been fighting me from day one: they felt I came in and took a role they been "working so hard for over the years to get".

It is also the same when I've tried to work as a consultant for different customers. People will always try to make me look useless to their leaders.

During my years, I've earned what I need and now it's just matter of working to have something nice to do. I've tried several jobs recently, but all end up the same, this battle between us. How can I avoid a work environment where there is always these battles between colleagues?

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    There are two people to a battle. Have you tried just saying "okay, good idea, we will do it your way."? I'm not saying it is the best way to handle it, maybe it's even technically inferior to your idea, but it certainly reduces conflict.
    – nvoigt
    Feb 1 at 12:00
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    "I had no problem in answering them [...] of why they where wrong" - this hit me, honestly, and maybe says a lot about the actual problem here. It reminds me of a meme saying "I am not arguing, I am explaining why you are wrong". But that's a joke. In my experience, it is rare that you have the always superior technical solution, there are usually so many edges to code that it seems to me always a compromise of what to use. Are you sure you would fully understand the actual problem? Or why is it that you are - seemingly - vastly superior to the in-house coders?
    – Mayou36
    Feb 2 at 10:27
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    It's interesting because I've always found IT extremely non-competitive. Everywhere I work I end up with people (peers and superiors) advocating for me and working to get me recognition even when I shy from it. Could this be a cultural or geographic thing? Can you add a location tag to this question?
    – Nicholas
    Feb 2 at 13:56
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    "I had no problem in answering them with a long technical explanation of why they where wrong" — it's weird that didn't make them want to work more closely with you, people usually love that. Feb 2 at 15:15
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    In any IT workplace I've ever been in, there is a never-ending parade of consultants who propose various wholesale methodological changes. The developers made every attempt to critique your proposals because they are the ones who have to live with the effects, not you. And they have probably seen the same proposals a dozen times before and know why, in their workplace, they won't work.
    – tbrookside
    Feb 2 at 15:40

8 Answers 8

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Honestly, with how you stated your interactions with other workers, I think that the first issue is that you never worked with anyone. Even from your comment, it appears that you believe your way of doing it, based off of what I'm sure is truly logical reasoning, is the only way to do it. If you believe that there is a flaw in how someone else would want to do it, then that is good enough reason for you to ignore what someone else wants to try.

You brought up that you could refute any technical reason why your way would be the best, but in a workplace especially, often the technical reasons don't matter. If the developers were upset that you seemed to swoop in and take a job that they had been working towards for years, then their issue with you is not technical. No technical arguments in the world will ever convince them. And honestly, especially in software development, there is almost never a single way that is the one right way to do it. There are ways that are better for a variety of reasons, but to flat out state that one way of doing it is the only way of doing it seems to speak of massive vanity.

I don't know if any of this is true, but I can see how this perception could have been created based off of what you said. Really, you can criticize the competitive nature of everyone else, but you seem equally bent on demonstrating your own right-ness. Even if you were to switch jobs, I don't see that part changing.

If you really want to remove the competitive nature in the places you work, then actually work with people. Figure out what the real concerns are, not just how you can prove that you are right. There will be some people who will continue to try and win at all costs, and there's nothing you can do about them, but it does seem that more people are willing to work together, especially when you are able to demonstrate that you care more about everyone actually working together instead of just having someone else implement your plan.

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    "People don't care what you know until they know that you care." (A quote from someone - maybe, an anonymous person). Feb 2 at 9:09
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    @SmallDev, I am impressed that you pick this answer as the official or best answer. Feb 2 at 9:31
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    It gives credence to your point that 20 years ago, presumably when OP was starting his career, people were 'nice' to work with, but now, when OP is in a position to tell them what to do, working with people isn't so nice. The importance of making colleagues feel valued cannot be understated.
    – jla
    Feb 2 at 9:36
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    @csstudent1418 - Note that there is a difference between making someone feel valued and agreeing that they are right. It is almost always possible to make someone feel valued by respectfully investigating and listening to their concerns and their desires even if you ultimately decide to choose a different approach. If people feel listened to and that you're their ally who wants to help them improve and succeed rather than their enemy that wants to bully them into submission, they're a lot more receptive to your message. Feb 2 at 19:38
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    @csstudent1418 Dropping emotions isn't the right way to handle them, because 1) it's impossible, and 2) when one (incorrectly) believes emotions have been dropped, they have more power to influence cognition in maladaptive and surprising ways. The right way to handle emotions is to understand them, feel them, and then consciously choose how to respond to them. A human who does not feel his emotions is far less rational than one who does, but handles them well.
    – CodeSeeker
    Feb 2 at 20:07
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Whether as a consultant or as the new expert on staff, I urge you to look for things you can praise the existing dev staff for.

Face it. If you've been brought in to "fix" things, the team is already on the defensive. You've attacked just by showing up (not really, but that's probably how it feels).

Diffuse tensions and give the team back some credibility by looking for what they're doing right. It will help them whether you stay or move on, and it's really no skin off your nose.

With your respect for the existing team established, they should be a lot more open to giving you the respect you deserve.

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During my years, I've earned what i need and now its just matter of working to have something nice to do.

There are plenty of non-competitive jobs out there. Things like retail, construction, landscaping, government work, etc., tend to be less competitive, particularly at lower wage levels. Check out an online jobs site and see what might meet your definition of "nice".

I've tried serveral jobs recently, but all end up with same, this battle between us.

Frankly, if you have tried different jobs in different domains, and they all end up the same, it might be a good time for some introspection to see if perhaps there is something you are doing to bring this about.

Perhaps you aren't suited to drive change in an organization. Perhaps you would be better off in a non-leadership role. These are things only you can determine.

How can I avoid a work enivironment where there is allways these battles between collegues?

While interviewing, dig in more to understand the culture of the team before accepting an offer. Usually, if you ask to talk with a few of your potential peers, the interviewing company will be happy to comply. You can ask them anything about the company, the team, how long they have been there, how they get ahead, etc.

You seem to have concluded that IT is too competitive for your tastes. Check out some other work domains, perhaps as a temporary contractor before you make a commitment.

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Don't start by coming in as an outsider and competing against them.

Imagine A is about to sit down on a nice, comfy chair. B comes along and shoves A out of the way and sits down. Then B complains that A is trying to get the chair back. Who has started the conflict here? (Hint: Not A.)

In this situation, you are saying that you have come in and kicked people out of a role they thought they would have and now you are complaining that they are trying to kick you out of that role so they can have it after all. It's no wonder that they are competing with you when you began competing with them.

Most technical consulting roles are just set up this way, the consultant is brought in by management as a stick to use to get the employees to work harder/cheaper. (Especially common are consultants who are brought in to say that X, Y, and Z can be done within a specific time. Then when it comes to implementing, the consultants are somehow MIA and the original employees are left holding the bag.)

Instead look for a role where the management is happy with the existing team and the reason for hiring more people is that they simply have more work now and need more people.

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  • "and the reason for hiring more people is that they simply have more work now" - or they already had more work that needed to be done, but they have more resources now (with which to hire people) that they didn't have before. :)
    – V2Blast
    Feb 4 at 3:54
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    @V2Blast As long as the previous solution wasn't just large amounts of overworking or shoddy work. But yeah, any team where the existing team members are already secure in their roles and you're an "in addition to" not an "instead of". Another good sign is if a workplace has a decent mix of people who've been there different lengths of time. People like it enough to stay, but they're also used to having new ideas coming in. Feb 4 at 17:05
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Find a new employer. One that:

  • Values employees who work as a team.
  • Can reward people for solid work so that career progression is more about self growth rather than a singular open slot.

Don't give up... there are plenty of employers that might be a better fit for you.

Also, I would echo @paulj's comment above... be the lead that you are in the defacto sense anyway. You can set the tone for how people interact with you, even in your current environment. Take charge of things where it makes sense to do so.

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Government caters to people with your ambition. Nice solid, relatively stress free work for a decent pay if you keep your head down. The private sector tends to be a bit rougher.

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    I think he meant "pirate sector"
    – johnDanger
    Feb 1 at 22:55
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    The OPs problem seems to be that people push back when he tries to change things so I very much doubt that the public sector would be an improvement for them.
    – Eric Nolan
    Feb 2 at 10:19
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    @EricNolan, yeah, I've worked a government contract, and even with the good team I worked with, making large changes was a job for Sisyphus. Feb 2 at 20:37
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I am not sure where you are in your career/retirement path but it sounds like you need something new. I have found those toxic, competitive environments to be highly profitable (high paying). You put up with the BS, make your money, and save it like a crazy person. Then move onto the next chaotic, dysfunctional employer hopefully negotiating a nice bump in rate.

For me, it was easier to deal with the BS knowing that my purpose was only to make as much money as possible in order to set myself up for the future.

The goal is to put yourself on "CoastFire" that is to save enough money where average stock market returns will put you on a comfortable retirement path. For example, if I was about 40 years old and had a 500K saved, I would probably consider myself close to "CoastFire".

Once you did that, you can then find an employer that you want. Sure it might mean a change in careers, but you can find employers or even groups within certain employers where people are not trying to "kill" each other. It might mean a little less pay, but that is a reasonable exchange.

It is very refreshing and a whole lot more productive when people work together to bring a product to market.

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Work at a Non-Profit!

People are more mission-focused at non-profits, and they care more about their mission rather than promotions. In the non-profit I work for, I find that there's less blame-casting and less self-protection and less credit claiming than the for-profit companies I worked at.

I went into non-profit work knowing that I would be paid less than a for-profit company. The hours are less (I work 35 hour weeks) I'm happier with less money and better culture and a team that actually cares about me.

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