Chapter 68. Political Capital and the Favor Economy

Brian Fitzpatrick

Whether you’re interested in it or not, politics affect almost every aspect of your career, and when you interact with someone else in your company, you’re either gaining or spending political capital.

There are hundreds of ways to gain political capital at work, from shipping product to mentoring a new teammate, to doing code reviews, or even interviewing candidates for your team. Basically, anything that you do at work that your management chain wants done or just sees as valuable will gain you political capital. You can even gain political capital by doing favors for other folks in your company.

Every company has a gray-market favor economy that lives off the organization chart, and those favors are one of the things that you can use to fill up your political bank account. There’s usually something you can quickly and easily do that benefits your company but is someone else’s job that would take them much, much longer to perform (if they can even do it at all). If you keep your eyes open for the chance to do these things (or if someone comes right out and asks you to do something for them), you earn a bit of credit for your bank account in this favor economy. And the size of this credit is directly proportional to the difficulty that the other person would have had performing this task: if it takes you ...

Get 97 Things Every Engineering Manager Should Know now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.