Feb 10 2010

Navigating Administrative Bureaucracy

I always remind myself of these things just before any meeting with a person in an administrative role who has the power to make a decision that I want to turn out a specific way:

(1) The administrator has goals that, at most, only partially overlap with my own, and are likely to be totally different.

(2) The administrator does not care at all about how badly I “want”, “need”, or “deserve” to have the decision be made in the way that I want.

(3) The administrator cares only about making the decision in the way that she perceives as best furthering *her* goals.

(4) My job is to make the best possible case that making the decision in the way that *I* want is the way that will best further *her* goals.

(5) I must do my homework pre-meeting to try to figure out as best that I can what the administrator’s goals are.


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  1. 1

    Solution: Rohypnol

  2. 2
    The Barefoot Bum

    But but but!!!! People should do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, no? ;)

  3. 3
    Physiogroupie IV

    Aren’t their goals almost always about money?

  4. 4
    El Picador

    PgIV- or about beating their peers to a corner office

  5. 5
    The Barefoot Bum

    This is, of course, a good general description of how to negotiate anything with anyone. Keep in mind too that administrators often have goals that can be affected by your own decisions.

  6. 6
    Mad Hatter

    Unfortunately for me, I’ve started being “invited” to a few meetings with administrators as a proxy for my boss.

    Fortunately for me, some of those administrators do care, at least a little bit, what my boss wants, needs or deserves. :-)

  7. 7

    Yup, good basic negotiation prep. Best of luck with the latest rounds.

  8. 8

    I would only add that I take a deep breath just before entering their office. This keeps me from looking them in the eye and saying “look here you fuck, I need X, Y and Z. And you are wasting my fucking time with all this fucking bullshit. So what you are going to do, is get on that fucking computer of yours and type what ever the fuck it is you type in order to make it happen. Capice?”

  1. 9
    Navigating Administrative Bureaucracy, Part II « Comrade PhysioProf

    [...] 17, 2010 One of our commenters suggests the following strategy for getting what you want from an administrative bureaucrat: I take a deep breath just before [...]

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