Week 6 Book Review

The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Harowitz

Good management is key to running a successful business.  As a CEO, Manager or business owner you do not want to get caught up in office politics.  Some managers do not even realize that they are guilty of it. They have an employee come to them soliciting a raise. They end up giving this employee a raise to keep them from leaving only to have others hear about it and do the same thing.  The only employees left out might be your best employees. Ben Horowitz spells out his two key techniques for minimizing politics.

  • Hire people with the right kind of ambition.  The right kind of ambition is an ambition for the company’s success with the employee’s success coming as a by-product of the company’s victory. 
  • Build strict processes for potentially political issues and do not deviate.  These activities include:
    • Performance evaluation and compensation
    • Organizational design and territory
    • Promotions

Horowitz advises to carefully word job titles and manage promotion.  He suggests defining a formal process for all promotions. Have a promotions council, make promotions unilateral, and compare the employee with both the level’s skill description and other employees to determine whether to approve the promotion.

The author sums it up perfectly.  If you structure things properly, nobody other than you will spend much time thinking about titles other than an employee of the month (Harowitz, 2014).  

Horowitz, B. (2014). The hard thing about hard things: Building a business when there are no easy answers.

7 thoughts on “Week 6 Book Review

  1. Good morning Tina, This post gives the hiring manager something to think about. Promotions in a workplace should be considered in a fair and consistent manner. I think no matter what size the business, there should be job descriptions and path to success within each position that is clearly laid out for the employee. In my experience you can ask people not discuss their pay with other employees, but usually do anyways.
    Best regards,
    Mike Weimar

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do think that clear job descriptions help to deter office politics. Having promotion and employee review processes that are consistent also help. Thank you for your reply.


  2. Tina,
    Politics is an issue for many workplaces. As you mentioned, managers/supervisors don’t realize that they are participating in those types of situations with employees. Having the right team of employees will ensure that politics never causes a problem in the workplace. However, with employees who are constantly complaining or wanting more money it will typically result in problems related to politics. If a manager makes an exception or change for one individual, then that manager will have to do the same for everyone else. You’re right, having strict policies in place where no exceptions are made will better guarantee structure that will not deviate. Even when an employee ask for an exception from the manager it must be made clear that the rules are the same for everyone and that an exception will not be made. Clear, strict, and effective structure is the key to success with employees. Excellent information you provided from your reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Audrey. I have worked in places with extreme politics. It is hard to focus on do a good job yourself when you see the tolerance for someone that is a “favorite” not doing a good job or pulling their weight. I can tell by the way you conduct yourself in this class that you give your work 100%. Thank you for the reply.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been in these work conditions before. The management made us promise not to tell the other employees. It make our team divided. Then I worked for a place that made sure no one got raises. Which made the team change constantly because people couldn’t afford the minimal wage we were paid. I think this process of everyone being equal would work well if raises are implemented, but these rules can go to either extreme.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed reading your post! I agree that office politics can be an issue in many organizations.

    In my opinion, as entrepreneurs we may want to consider having a policy in place that frowns upon discussing salaries. I personally think it is unprofessional, and there are many different aspects that are considered in an employee’s salary, such as experience and education level. For example, an individual with ten years of experience should not expect the same salary as an individual with twenty-five years of experience, in my opinion.

    At a former employer, there was a co-worker that asked for a raise, which was denied. Word got around the office, and I am sure that it must have been embarrassing for her. If that was me, I certainly would have been embarrassed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Salary confidentiality is so important. While we like to think that salaries are fair and equitable, they are not. I also think that it is important to know your value to a company. If you are not making the amount that you feel you are worth, you should meet with management and make that request. It is better to ask for a raise and know where you stand than to stew over feeling like you are undervalued.



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