Cain and Abel At Work
By Gerry Lange and Todd Domke
Broadway Books, 222 pages, $23.95
Engaging: 5 Innovative: 4 Usefulness: 5 Visual Aids: 5
Lange and Domke's book is so good I read it twice, once to write this review and once to go back and find out what I missed the first time. The authors take the biblical allegory of Cain and Abel and turn it into one of the best things I have read in years on the stark realities of life in organizations.
In taking care not to paint us all as helpless victims of the Cain mentality, the book brings to light the various tactics that clever, power-hungry, amoral co-workers employ to get ahead in organizations. Though you may not, as the authors point out, "think of yourself as a naïve innocent in competition with cunning rivals, if you are concentrating on your work while a Cain is focused on promoting himself at your expense, you are vulnerable to his conniving gamesmanship." Great, you say, my 401K is in the dumper and my cubicle-mate is a menace.
Fear not, because with this book you can spot a cheat a mile away. Most helpful are the numerous and terrific case studies provided with each lesson about what Cain is up to today. I defy you to read a few of these and not conjure up thoughts of colleagues about whom you had uncomfortable feelings. It is chilling.
What is also excellent, if not quite as entertaining, is the portion of the book about why Cains exist in the first place and what motivates them to behave the way they do. As I read that section I found myself thinking of the many times that my colleagues have failed to, as the authors prescribe "leave the psychoanalysis to the professionals," and have regretted sharing information that was later used against them. For young people especially, it is important to note that not everybody at work who wants to be your friend really is.