Assuming Good Faith

I recently participated in a thread on Hacker News, where someone had posted a horror story of a bad boss, and how it went badly for them when they went over said bosses head, telling upper management that their boss was incompetent.

I replied, saying in short, that going over your boss’ head is seen as a communication failure because you are expected to be able to work through problems with your direct superior.

The response was interesting. While my comment was quite well-received, as measured by how many points it got, many of the responses were negative. It was full of people saying that you cannot trust management, you should just quit if you have problems with your boss, and a general tone that all managers in corporations are evil political beings, just out for their own personal gain, and never to be trusted. 

One comment ins particular struck me when it said, “You are assuming good faith.”

Yes. I am.

I feel that that vast majority of people in leadership roles got there by trying to do well for their teams, their company, their products, and themselves. They are not sociopaths out for their own gain at the expense of everyone else. And they do not look at their team as adversaries, trying to cut them down. On the contrary, most leaders want to build a team up and help them succeed. Not everyone is good at this, but even if they are bad leaders, that doesn’t mean it is their intent to hurt you.

So yes, I am doubling down on my assumption of good faith. I believe everyone deserves it. Even people who you do not like, do not agree with, or do not think have sufficient skills for their current role. Those people are imperfect humans, like the rest of us. They have strengths, and they have weaknesses. 

If you are focusing 100% on their weaknesses, allowing that to be 100% of your perception of them, then proceeding to insult their competence around your team and to your upper management… then you are right that there is a toxic member on your team. But it isn’t your boss. It is you.