At my first corporate gig I looked for a book that would help me cope and adjust to corporate life. I never did find one, but now after nearly six years I have figured it out on my own. These are my tips that make working for corporations a little bit more tolerable.
1. Put your back to your cubicle entrance and practice falling asleep with one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse. (Make sure you have a work-related document open on the screen.) This is easy to do if you have a chair that has a high back. There are two things to watch out for: (1) Your screensaver may activate while you nap, and (2) Your hand may smash some keys, making people who pass by you wonder why you have a screen full of G’s. When someone knocks on the frame of your cubicle entrance, waking you up, they will confuse your tired haze with deep and creative thought.
2. Assume you are doing a perfect job unless your boss gives regular feedback, which he probably doesn’t. When you are rated incompetent in several areas during your yearly performance review, go through the five stages of grief. They will admire the fact that you “care” and may not put you under a “performance management plan.” Bonus: Refuse to sign the evaluation right away, saying you are upset and need to think things through.
3. Do not get buddy-buddy with your boss. Rapport with you boss will just make it easier for him to ask special favors of you that do not translate into more pay. Stay distant: When he asks how your weekend was, repeat the same thing every week (“Oh I just sat around the house and watched TV”) until he stops asking. Instead, be nice to everyone but you boss. This way if he tries to fire you, everyone will chime in and say what a great person you are, weakening his power and making him appear delusional.
4. Be average. Do just enough work to not get fired but not so much work that they consider you for management. The responsibilities that come with management rarely makes it worth the often measly increase in pay. Plus if you are reading this right now you are not busy or important enough to be someone whose decisions will ever matter.
5. Always have one good idea in the bag if your slacking is being noticed by many people. Examples:
– Intranet wiki that never gets updated
– Employee suggestion box/committee
– Online bulletin board to post about lost keys
– A database of some sort
– A corporate blog
– Company-wide distribution of “Who Moved My Cheese” to improve morale
– A new system to streamline office supply ordering that involves laminated cards and an in-box.
– Quarterly newsletter with a section that features employee pets.
6. Contemplate killing yourself. Or, walk by the break room every 30 minutes to see if there is any leftover food, in the middle of yet another attempt to break your record of most number of times you can check your personal email in one day.