Wednesday, January 4

Job Tip 19: The Chairman’s trophy wife desires a summerhouse…

Management folk remained cognizant in their university management classes long enough to hear the word ‘motivation’ brought up once or twice before dozing off. So it makes sense that motivation is randomly doled out every once and a while. Managers learned early on that the combination of both security and fear, when used to full effect, are excellent motivators. Folks have a tendency to become complacent and forget about the humiliation of standing in line at the unemployment office worrying about making rent, car, and satellite TV payments [Oh! The inhumanity!!]

About every other quarter or so, there will be a fresh round of budget tightening because [surprise!] the company is under-performing on it’s over-promise of double digit earnings increases.

Quick economics lesson here. Just because the CEO & CFO [affectionately referred to as ‘Tweedle-Dumb’ & ‘Tweedle-Dee’] overstated earnings potential to keep shareholder equity overvalued, THEIR thirty percent bonus of an [already] extravagant salary will not be threatened. In the organizational scheme of things, you are hereby referred to as “Headcount.” [see: CHAFF or DEADWOOD; e.g.: “We need to unload some DEADWOOD in order to make 15% above last year’s earnings for the quarter. Otherwise we’ll only make 9% over last year’s mark. The shareholders will be peeved!”]

During this time of uncertainty, managers will begin scurrying about with furled brows while muttering obscenities to themselves and at each other as though they are saving the fate of the entire civilized world. In the meantime, you and your fellow headcount will find a renewed sense of vigor fueled by impending doom.

Truthfully, the names of the higher-salaried deadwood being jettisoned were randomly picked weeks ago. Right now, the minions are so grateful to be receiving a paycheck that his/her manager can ask ANYthing of ANYone without raising ANY sort of protest. The 80 to 100 hour works weeks are a happy by-product of everyone’s nervousness. Honestly though, management is simply just waiting for the HR chump to dream up the rationale that dissuades your calling an employment attorney [this would be a good time to bring up the phrase “protected class”]. Should you actually sue, the idiot HR chump will be the person held accountable for not coming up with solid justification. Remember, managers are never held responsible for poor performance issues [their Teflon coats are re-applied every quarter].

As you empty your cube of personal possessions, you need to be cognizant enough to make mental notes of the other people receiving their notices. These are your future comrades in arms, compadres, or new drinking buddies. Also notice that your new clique is made up of higher-paid, non-protected class, non-sycophant individuals who you tended to rely on to get things accomplished. Funny how that happens…

Here’s a fun exercise… As the company HR hack is pointlessly explaining overpriced COBRA coverage [and why there’s no reason to involve an attorney] picture the executives as they console themselves and other managers over an expensive lunch before they hand out bonus checks to each other. This wonderful afternoon was made possible because your sudden departure left some bonus “wiggle-room” in the budget. If it would help any, imagine the managers taking a moment to hoist a glass of high-priced wine in honor of your tireless dedication. [“Ooo! Is that the dessert menu?”]

Business journals will write florid articles about your former CEO & CFO and how they faced certain doom only to turn everything around at the last moment and save yet another quarter [care to guess the company who contributed major advertising revenue? Anyone?]. Take some comfort in knowing that journalists are just as cynical and will mention that the interview took place aboard a three hundred foot luxury yacht paid for by an interest-free loan to the CEO - which his longtime CFO buddy just recently wrote off the corporate books.

Wednesday, November 9

Job Tip 18: The kahuna-guru Ph.D.’s are laughing all the way to the bank

The self-anointed 80’s – 90’s kahuna-gurus of ‘Leadership Excellence’ were full of shit and know it. Any CEO or executive buying into their dribble was full shit too. They just want to hang on to their youth by appearing ‘trendy’. That and the all expense-paid Sonoma Valley “Leadership Conferences” were a blast. The all-expenses-paid vacations were simply covered by cutting a division’s budget while in the middle of new product development.

All that feel-good crap about self-directed teams, leadership - not management - skills, and organizational learning was simply a way of creating an industry where none existed before. They sat in their tax-deductible office space high atop Mt. Fritter and spouted bullshit conjecture to the sycophant minions who shipped every last dribble to the printers. The irony is that they eventually began to believe in what they said.

Unfortunately, there are a few relics remaining from this era who continue to setup the poor naive underlings. They continue proselytizing how the best-run organizations are where managers have learned to let go of the everyday issues. DO NOT fall for this! Most professionals have already written all the gurus off as over-actualized hacks.

When managers occasionally send out notifications of upcoming training events, do NOT take the bait! This is only a method of flushing out under-utilized personnel. If you have the time to attend training, you don’t have enough to do and are wasting precious shareholder value – as well as jeopardizing the division’s executive bonus.

Think of these cloaked “upcoming training” announcements as a traditional fox, duck, or snipe hunt. The managers - replete in their latest TommyGear camouflage buttondowns - stand at the ready with shotguns in hand as the training staff blow the bugles announcing the latest training offerings. Waiting in the wings are the manager’s sycophants who have been specially ‘mentored’ [bought with cheap booze] to flush out the unsuspecting dolt who might be remotely interested in the training offerings. The moment the gullible ignoramus is off to training, the manager’s pointer stands by the slacker-idiot’s cube to show who is under performing. Inevitably, a crisis arises and all hands will be called to duty. Surprise! Because the trainee is stuck in a training class, he/she remains oblivious to the world spinning off it’s axis. The next day, when the trainee returns to his/her desk and opens e-mail, the dramatic novella unfolds. By the last chapter, the slacker’s lack of response will be reduced to “not a team player”

[cue shotgun blast]

Interestingly, the organizational leadership or management kahuna-gurus out there shilling their wares only proselytize to that top 20 percent of an organization. Their greatest failing is that they haven’t the foggiest notion how to speak to remaining “lazy” 80 percenters. These kahuna-gurus have summarily shot themselves in the foot because of their failure to address the most common “ailments” populating the workforce. Managers lose all interest after the first couple of sentences because it’s easy to motivate the motivated. The rest of their time in the “retreat” is spent catching up on voice-mail, text messaging basketball scores, and figuring out where to go for dinner that night. Motivating the commoners schlepping their way through their eight hours - and not a minute more - is an altogether different and continually ignored story.


The Ph.D.’s are at it again. The latest and greatest redundancy to come out of the university think-tanks is “innovative design.” Here’s the premise… It seems executives and the mid-to-upper managers couldn’t recognize innovation if it rambled along and bit them on the arse. The Ph.D.’s looked back at their own business and engineering programs and found a decided lack of emphasis preparing the future managers and executives to recognize and foster innovation in an organization. [Which goes against the very nature of corporate culture to quash anything associated with innovation] Universities are now ramping up the continuing education and masters programs to welcome back their expense-accounted alumni and “introduce” innovative design theory.

[Chutzpah: /'hut-sp&, '[k]ut-, -(")spä/ Function: noun Etymology: Yiddish khutspe, from Late Hebrew huspAh: supreme self-confidence : NERVE, GALL. Synonym: see TEMERITY. Example: when a guy murders his parents and has the CHUTZPAH to beg for the court’s leniency because he’s been left an orphan.]

Yet again, executives will be recovering from their bi-yearly “retreat” hangovers in Aruba or Deer Valley full of verve and bursting to throw out the latest buzzwords at their divisional managers. [“Look at me! I’m hip!”] The divisional managers will then be forced to gather for a half-day organizational off-site to try and decipher the executive’s latest girl-drink influenced exuberance. After second-guessing the executive’s intent, the divisional managers will then parlay the information down to their own lower-level managers in a one-hour information-dump. From there, the lower-level managers will have to spend about 15 minutes with the worker-bees explaining how the company wishes to foster innovative concepts. This is concluded with a perfunctory: “if you should come up with something – let us know.”

Now, for the young and foolish - not yet initiated to true organizational culture/behavior - this looks like the perfect opportunity to share your brilliant insights and gain the adoration of your manager, the EVP/SVP, and eventually the division’s head-honcho. [Cue visions of the annual division luncheon where the Executive is handing out oblique crystal awards and fat cashier checks for your brilliance amidst rapturous applause] Your company is finally willing to hear out your keen insights on boosting performance, eliminating redundancies, or the creation of new products that will not only benefit all mankind, but rake-in truckloads of cash.

Yea Me!!

However, you should take a moment and seek out the older ladies in the department who always seem to be whispering and then giggling hysterically to themselves whenever the supervisor lowers him/herself to speak to the ranks. These ladies know the real drill. They’re only sharing gossip on the latest management- EVP/SVP lustful interlude. Why do you think the manager doesn’t bother to stop them? As easy as it would be to label the ladies as “slackers!” remember that they’ve heard all of this nonsense before. It all started back when the current EVP/SVP was a wee-little front-line supervisor spouting virtually the same words. Now, several years and managerial layers later, the latest front-line supervisor is being forced to utter virtually the same inane words as instructed by his/her manager, et-cet-er-AH, et-cet-er-AH, et-cet-er-AH…

In the grand scheme of things, what company has the time, energy, or money to waste frittering away on a chance that some idiot lackey’s concept will actually pan out? Do you REALLY think shareholders have the patience to allow a company to foster unproven innovation?

Submit exhibit K… On any given quarterly earnings conference call, listen in for when a company’s R&D capital budget is mentioned. A new multi-million dollar product can be in the first week of conceptual design and yet the only question financial analysts have for the CEO and CFO is “how much revenue have you realized on this new product innovation?” The obvious answer being “Well, stupid, no revenue has been realized yet. The product is still being conceived!” However, to a shareholder, if you have the time to spare dreaming up dumb ideas, then an organization doesn’t have enough work to do and should be downsized to fit the appropriate too much work to too-little manpower ratio. Shareholders have zero patience for such frivolity.

Thankfully, to remedy any “Executive-drunk-on-innovation” scenario, front-line managers are equipped with various organizational crisis that snap their Executives back into the 20/80 percent split reality. Quarterly recurring revenue/profit will be threatened which, in turn, reminds the Executives of who they REALLY report to [hint: revenue/profit fluctuations impacts shareholder value]. This is a firm reminder to the executives that the commoners toiling in an organization don’t have the intellectual capacity to remember where they parked their cars much less handle Ph.D. kahuna-guru theory. Things then go back to normal until the Executives disappear for yet another quarterly “retreat” where the Ph.D. kahuna-gurus have conjured up yet another method of separating companies from the latest R&D capital and salary & training budgets.

Friday, October 21

Job Tip 17: Efficiency and other signs of inadequacy

The amount of time it takes someone to pour their morning cup of coffee says a lot about how efficiently they work. Watch how a manager pours his/her cup of coffee. Most managers drink black coffee at half-cup increments. Granted, he/she drinks FIFTEEN half-cups in any given morning. If you happen to be in the vicinity whenever he/she is pouring, he/she will get a look of consternation on his/her face after two-and-a-half seconds and give up. It's a good demonstration that even the coffee dispenser is too slow for his/her tight schedule and can't be bothered with anymore.

Managers have also been known to dribble out a mere mouthful if it means he/she won't have to brew another pot. And, if there are more than two people waiting in line for coffee, managers give up and wander around to find another pot without the 45-second wait. Somehow, they have rationalized that taking the additional two minutes to wander around is somehow more efficient than waiting out those precious few seconds behind slacking subordinates.

For grins and giggles, go out and buy one of those gigantic travel coffee mugs; one of those high-capacity holding tanks typically found affixed on the sides of delivery trucks (for diesel). Now, with your humongous reservoir in hand, try and get to the coffee area just before your manager makes one of his/her fifteen stops. Count the number of times your manager taps a toe, glances at his/her watch, or clears his/her throat as they're standing there. Trifecta! when he/she performs all three displays of annoyance.

When timed, you spent a total of - maybe - twenty seconds filling the mug. But with a manager standing there, you've actually made time stand still. Images of the slowest moving objects on Earth begin to dance and swirl around in his/her thoughts - a sleeping tree sloth, glaciers, molasses in January in Minnesota, and retirees queuing up for the early-bird buffet.

Serious money has been spent on time and motion studies over pouring a cup of coffee. When added together, your once or twice a morning trip to the coffee pot takes about four minutes; five, tops. Any guesses as to how much longer the manager's eight or fifteen trips take out of his/her busy schedule? It won't matter. Managers can't be bothered with statistics or facts. Remember, it's all about perception, not reality.

Don't even get us started on what managers do to increase their personal restroom efficiency. [shudder]

Another method to spot the upper-east coast school of management types is to keep a mental note of who continually receives personal packages from FedEx. You see; these are the people who have found it easier to have their Internet purchases sent where he/she spends most of his/her life - at work.

First off, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate his/her importance because somebody sent them something [overlooking the fact that he/she spent company time shopping and used company resources to buy something personal online]. Secondly, it is an opportunity to show off the latest 'gotta-have' gizmos to the sycophants.

[Cue shipping geek wheeling a dolly of boxes into manager's office. Wait… Three… Two… One… Cue the manager's personal sycophants tripping over themselves to find out what was delivered.] Keep in mind, even if you are chained to your cube by 80-hour workweeks, managers and the chosen toadies are the only people allowed to employ the shipping department as a personal concierge.

Standards are for people with nothing better to do with their lives

If a company mentions Six Sigma, ISO, or any process standardization ANYwhere in it's product or shareholder marketing; run [don't walk] away! It's a sham. First off, it costs an arm and a leg to 'certify'. The people who dreamed up these standardizations were originally professors denied university tenure and had to create some method of extracting money from unsuspecting businesses.

Secondly, all those standards and procedures get in the way of getting real work done. Thirdly, anyone who has time to care about standardized procedure isn't really doing his/her job. Lastly, if anybody outside of the company asks about standardization and company procedures, they haven't got anything better to do as well. They're simply caught up on reading the latest issue of Fast Company and haven't stumbled across anything else better to do to fill the time.

Managers know there is only one priority in business. They long ago gave up the notion of doing things 'better' for whatever over-actualized people-shit excuse. Instead, management types have cultivated - through short and alcohol-laden mentorships with other like-minded antisocial behaviorists - a singular message the eighty percenters really need in order to accomplish the myriad of day-to-day tasks:

"Get shit done."

Wednesday, September 14

Job Tip 16: "Had I gotten as far as the PENIS entering the VAGINA?!"

There is more sex happening in the workplace than everyone is leading everyone else to believe. So we are all on the same page here - everybody in an organization is an oversexed boob. Men AND women. Nobody will admit to it though. But the signs are all there. We’ll get to this in a moment. Before we begin our diatribe, we need to slog through some background.

Here’s how the people who scored less than a two on the ACT do it
Sex is an inherent primal urge. It actually takes less brain capacity to complete than most other bodily functions. With that in [and out] of mind, sex is therefore considered a “taboo” topic left unspoken. Everybody simply avoids the topic altogether. We’re all a bunch of Victorians diddling with each other a-la Kinsey-kinky.

Psychologists are continually debating whether or not sex should be included in the first or second level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There are two camps of thinking: men and women. Men know damn well that sex is about as intellectual as mowing the lawn. Honestly, men put a lot more thought and rationalization into mowing the lawn. Women, on the other hand, like to think they attach meaning and subtext to sex. Just read the first couple chapters of a Bronte novel [which any guy has yet to accomplish – naughty bits aren’t mentioned within the first six pages of the stories].

However, women aren’t fooling anyone. Men know damn well that sex is just as much a carnal pleasure to women. The key is to know that anybody attempting to pass herself off as pious is more likely to be swinging from the ceilings during her lunch break. [Just remember to straighten your knickers BEFORE limping back to work]

Why all the deception and subtext? Perception. People want to deflect as much bad press from themselves as possible. Sex is a primal function that has no place amongst intellectuals or the virtuous (would that include Rhodes Scholars with political aspirations?). Sex is common amongst every living creature inhabiting this otherwise depraved world. Setting oneself apart from the thundering herds of horny bastards somehow contributes to building a positive perception.

Never ending shades of grey
Levels of sexual harassment and levels of punishment are entirely dependent on the level of management in an organization. Executives automatically earn the get out of jail free card - or rather - pop the penis out of the pants free card. Upper management must continue to keep their affairs discreet– which is why they stick to diddling around only with each other at the bi-monthly ‘retreats’. Mid-managers are expected to make the occasional sexual faux-paus so its okay to steal away with subordinates and clients until HR gives them the riot act. This also serves as part of the final exam for entering the higher echelons of the Executive wings. The concept employed for these purposes is ‘ethics are for losers.’

What’s left in the sexual food chain are low-level managers stuck with new hires and summer interns. Finally, so long as the requisite 80-hour workweeks remain undisturbed, the remaining 80 percenters may play around with each other as they wish.

For those of you who are young and ambitious, you may want to start off your climb up the corporate food chain with any of the office sycophants to get to know the culture. The remoras have to show off in front of their managers who, in turn, rescue you from the lite-beer and nachos hell. Managers then pimp you out to upper-management. They’re doing each other favors. You will be attending ‘strategic’ meetings and sipping good martinis in no time. After being passed around from senior manager to senior manager, you finally catch the eye of one of the executives. In no time, you’ll be aboard the corporate jet heading for Aruba or whatever exotic locale where the bi-weekly sales conference is being held. Just be sure to quiet down whenever the executive’s wife phones – this shows you at least have some decorum.

Oh, and another word of advice here, don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that the executive’s wife is clueless about you. How do you think SHE landed such an infantile egomaniac? She’s sticking around just long enough to suck his pension and bonus plan for all they’re worth. She fully expects the executive to find a go-getting young office whore who’s okay with the bad sex as long as it’s paired with good food and drinks. You can get good sex from just about anybody. However, scoring reservations at the trendy-chic clubs and restaurants takes the kind of cash the young studs can’t provide. In the end, the executive gets his arm candy, the wife gets her winter, summer, Labor-day, and Arbor day vacation homes, the kids get a private education, countless guilt gifts, and you get the fast-track up the corporate ladder. In corporate speak – it’s a win-win scenario.

Sexual Harassment is in the eye of the shareholder
If you happen to get scorned by your corporate meal ticket, be very careful how you react. Never attempt to expose the executive for the asshole he/she really is. Nobody wins anything. Forget that ‘integrity’ crap. You completely lost your integrity the first time you stuck your hand down the executive’s pants at lunch.

In an executive’s presence, people abandon all semblances of truthfulness or rationality in favor of pleasing their masters. Because the executives have long forgotten what its like to hear the word “no” from another human being, these narcissistic toddlers actually believe they are doing you a favor by letting you suck him off. His spermatozoa are simply another form of imparting his great wisdom. Folks who harbor ambitions of climbing up through middle management learn to deal with wet panties or stained suits.

What are you going to do? Complain to HR?

HR half-wits are trained to respond to claims of executive sexual harassment claims with indifferent statements like, “I guess you’re not fond of swallowing then?” Never – EVER – forget that HR barely exists at the whim and mercy of the company’s executive suite. HR professionals have long given up the notion of ‘integrity’ because they all know who really signs the paychecks. Going to HR to submit a sexual harassment claim against anyone with an office along or near Executive Alley is akin to peeing in the wind – it will be warm and feel good for just a fleeting moment before your world begins to stink. What’s funny [‘idiosyncratic’ not ‘Ha-Ha’] is that happy shareholders are extremely forgiving of unprincipled philandering executives. Never forget that it will always be the commoners who are severely reprimanded for even threatening the profit streams.

Another disturbing by-product of the corporate sexcapades is that entire HR staffs are periodically cleaned out. Thinly disguised as “market corrections”, executives have to get rid of the people most likely to cause the most damage. After several years in corporate servitude, entire HR teams are replenished with new blood. HR professionals – even the idiots who can barely manage to get their shoes tied by themselves – begin to remember which closet skeletons belong to which offender. The bonus is that salary expense is further reduced. Cocktails!

Summertime and the slackers need to get out of the house
To get slacker college/university kids the hell out of the house for the summer, fathers and mothers pimp their lazy offspring to any neighbor toiling away at corporate jobs. To the career minded, this means internships!

Middle-to-lower managers love intern season – the smell of naiveté is a powerful aphrodisiac. This is his/her opportunity to swap their neighbor’s kids around. They’ve had their eye on Little Susie ever since she developed perky little breasts and a tight ass. It’s just bad form to ogle over her; it’s that whole “covet thy neighbor’s wife” clause [“Ya know… Technically, its not his wife…”]. Instead, Little Susie is pimped to another manager’s department while her roommate or sorority sisters join the lower manager’s staff. This way, everybody is happy without running into any those pesky morals issues.

Stop feigning righteous indignation! What volume of “Girls Gone Wild!” are we up to now?

If you’ve managed to sober-up and graduate from university to join the ranks of corporate servitude, you already understand exactly how internships work. You have the bronzed kneepads and stained blue dress/suit proving your pluck and resolve.

An internship is the best method to avoid working away in some lackey position for two or three years before being noticed. Former interns put in exponentially less work in comparison to the regularly employed and receive the benefits of career advancement far sooner. As a plus, non-intern idiots are regularly forced to interview intern candidates to “see if he/she is a good fit with the organization.” The reality is that your sadistic manager is giving you a sneak peak at whom you will be reporting to after the slacker alcoholics-in-training graduate.

Again, knowledge, skills, and experience are of no consequence where fraternity/sorority connections are concerned.

Friday, August 26

Job Tip 15: God Dammit! Didn’t you hear me??!! The sky is falling!!

Managers are only effective when navigating through a crisis du-jour. This is especially true in companies that describe themselves as ‘entrepreneurial’ and like to prove to everyone that they are able to immediately respond to their customer’s every whim [“I realize you’re an Internet hosting company, but my printer paper is jammed dammit!!”]

As ludicrous as this last example might seem, we here at the Cynical Buddhist have actually been pressed into duty to drive 150 miles to a client’s office, relieve a paper jam, clean out the client’s internal spooler, and return the 150 miles to the home office in order to complete and submit a project before an unmovable deadline.

It didn’t help matters that the Cynical Buddhist was reprimanded for not driving fast enough – as the manager had calculated, to the minute, how long it should take a person to drive approximately 300 miles at seventy-five miles an hour. Unfortunately, the manager had failed to account for other speed limits, traffic control devices, one petrol break, the extra 18 miles of actual driving distance, twenty minutes for lunch, the block-and-a-half walk to and from the parking lot to the client’s building, security, and exhaustively talking with the client about proper printer maintenance and sending two-hundred megabyte files to a machine with only 64k memory.

To be fair, the manager HAD allowed for 15 minutes of “incidentals”. The bad news for the Cynical Buddhist was that we were still two hours over budget. Even worse, because the Cynical Buddhist had the audacity to point out the manager’s discrepancies, we were tasked with putting together a ‘to-the-minute’ detailed accounting of our whereabouts for the entire excursion. To most rational people, this might seem a tad unreasonable. To those who know better – and have been subjected to the whim and fancy of his/her sadistic manager [yes we know this is a redundant statement] – this is an exercise designed to discourage any further arguments over actual versus perceived differences. To further drive the point home, the manager summoned the Cynical Buddhist into his/her office and proceeded to scrutinize each line item listed on the report.

What’s the lesson here? Don’t screw with your manager’s perception when he/she is attempting to be a hero.

Reality only gets in the way.

Don’t let your own emotions get in the way of business

Another facet of working under the crisis du-jour concerns you having and displaying emotions yourself. Fear, anger, giddiness, sensuousness are emotions management likes to exploit to generate a little revenue. This is where hiring amoral socio-paths comes to fruition. Manager’s who stayed awake long enough during the marketing lectures understand and know how to manipulate the awesome energies of an impassioned subordinate.

At some point [guaranteed to be sooner rather than later] you will get so bloody frustrated with the latest roadblock thrown at you [usually some long-term corporate lackey associated with Finance] - you blow up in front of your manager. By ‘blow-up’, we mean a full-on, filth laden, arms waving, caged-tiger pacing, theatrical assault wherein the phrase, “beer-snorting-shit-eating-bastard!!” is likely to be spit through bared-clenched teeth.

Let’s pause for a moment and have a look at what you’re manager is witnessing [cue elevator/dentist’s office waiting room muzack]. Seeing things from your manager’s perspective is key here since nothing else in the world matters to him/her.

Your manager assigned a task for you to accomplish. You are now pacing in his/her office bitching about something he/she has little or no interest in. The most the manager will be able to grasp is that you’re obviously mad at something and “blah, blah, blah, Edna in Purchasing won’t blah, blah, something else, blah, blah, God-dammed narrow minded, blah blah!” His/her goal is to get you out of his/her office as soon as possible so he/she can get back to surfing the web with impunity. All he/she will pick up out of your diatribe is that you aren’t getting your job done.

Take just one guess as to who he/she holds responsible.

Granted, Edna in Purchasing sent you a scathing e-mail outlining the company’s preferred vendor policies [read: the vendor with the best gratis seating to all the professional sports teams – Edna’s a rabid Football, Hockey, Basketball, and Lawntractor race fan] and that because of those policies, the project you are working on will now cost quintuple than what your manager half-assed ballparked on the budget.

Most people - who possess the occasional rational thought - would simply bypass Edna in Purchasing and locate the vendor who can deliver a product on time and within budget. Unfortunately for you, this [vastly] less expensive vendor skimped on season tickets that are located in the upper decks with the other beer-swilling commoners that Edna in Purchasing can’t tolerate.

In Corporate-land, Edna in Purchasing works two cubes away from Myrtle in Accounts Payable. They’ve gone out to lunch with one another for the last twelve years. They even tag along with each other get sloppy drunk and flirt with the Lawntractor racers with the most teeth. It was Myrtle in Accounts Payable who ‘casually’ mentioned to Edna in Purchasing that a vendor on the ‘cheap-seats’ list was submitting an invoice for the very project you are working on.

And now, because you had the gall to explore other vendor options - thus upsetting the delicate and well-schmoozed balance Edna in Purchasing has painstakingly carved out for herself [she had to climb far too many sets of stairs to get to the third-deck] - your insolence will be punished with hostile belligerence and obfuscation. Your project deadline is looming and the one person in the world who you have to rely on will be disappearing from existence.

Your manager, bitten before by Edna in Purchasing’s wrath, will know just who to call to smooth things over and get you the hell out of his/her office [his/her e-mail notifier was dinging more often than the Bells of St. Nicholas on a wedding day – there are jokes awaiting – dammit!!]

The point of all this is that you are impassioned to make something happen here. Your manager knows that you are committed to seeing this project completed at the risk of upsetting the natural order of the corporation. Your manager knows, just as well as Edna in Purchasing, that the fictional budget pulled out of his/her arse is completely unreasonable given the current corporate culture and economics. However, with your passion being the primary motivator now – there’s a good chance you could pull off a budget miracle in this instance.

With the name of your potential savior in hand, you place the call that hopefully leads Edna in Purchasing and Myrtle in Accounts Payable to think outside of their bennies-induced coma and do something for the good of the company’s profit margin. The man/woman your manager referred you to will be a Wizard overseeing the whole Corporate Finance charade. With a wave of the hand and a simple entry in the credit column, the Finance Wizard waives the preferred vendor rule – but just this once.

[It must be noted at this time that you have done nothing to earn the Finance Wizard’s munificence. It was your manager’s clout that pushed through to save the day. His/her name is the only way you could have ever made it through the assistant’s gauntlet to reach the Finance Wizard [ever wonder why the wizard in “The Wizard of Oz” was depicted in emerald?]. Therefore, when it comes time to dole out the rewards for saving the company buckets of capital expense on this project, it is your manager who will be receiving the bonus and a long lunch at the local swank chic restaurant. One guess as to where the budget to pay for all this comes from.]

In return for the Finance Wizard’s benevolence, you are now indentured to both Edna in Purchasing and Myrtle in Accounts Payable to do whatever it takes to smooth things over with them. Three weeks later you’ll learn that the ‘cheap-seat’ vendor sent along some prime Tractor Pull tickets to express appreciation to Edna in Purchasing and Myrtle in Accounts Payable. For your part and hard work in all this, your reward is a monthly phone call from the ‘cheap-seat’ vendor’s telemarketing firm hounding you for additional business because Edna in Purchasing and Myrtle in Accounts Payable are too damn smart to answer their phones.

And you have the passion for your job to thank for all this.

Wednesday, August 17

Job Tip 14: They really do shoot the messenger

There comes a point in the manager/ignorant-subordinate relationship when you will be forced to deliver some bit of bad news. Part of your role as the messenger is to step in front of the bullet for the manager. Because it is YOU delivering the news, YOU are now tagged as ultimately responsible for whatever it is that occurred/not occurred/should have occurred - regardless of your amount of control over said issue. You may have nothing to do with the whim & mercy of your fellow minions, the price of zinc, or even the weather. This is of absolutely no concern of your manager's.

YOU are responsible - period.

Seasoned project managers have learned to use the 'dead-messenger-walking' concept to full advantage. You can spot them by this telltale phrase; "Tell me just as soon as you know of anything that might prevent you from completing your task." From this point forward, there is no time soon enough. If you stop him/her right then and rattle off a list of potential or known roadblocks, he/she will get a consternated look across his/her face, nod knowingly, and summarily dismiss you for not being a team-player ["You are SO negative"].

At any point thereafter, walk into the project manager's office and deliver the bad news that hurricanes, flooding, rioting, and the economic collapse of Paraguay will be delaying your part of the project and he/she will ask [with a straight face], "why didn't you come to me sooner with this? Don't you know we're on a tight schedule?!" ["Dumbass!"] From this point forward, all the project documentation will make note of how any and all project delays are due to your lack of time-management and predictive skills. Right now, there's a butterfly in China feverishly beating it's wings hastening your demise.

We here at the Cynical-Buddhist have been held personally responsible for a three-week project delay because the SME [subject-matter expert; aka: someone in a technical profession who needed his/her ego stroked] had a life-threatening car-wreck. This SME was the only person who set-up the client site and neglected to document what he did [cue Star Trek ‘Bones’ reference: “Dammit Jim! I’m an engineer! Not a stenographer!”]. The client got nervous because to their custom configuration was only known to one person and was vulnerable if something should, God forbid, happen to him. Something like… well… a car wreck.

Because the Cynical-Buddhist was stupid enough to previously show an ounce of skill in documenting undocumented configurations, my manager decreed that we would sit with the SME for a spell to understand the where and whys in the client’s configuration.

One day into the assignment, the SME’s girlfriend calls the office to report that the SME was involved in a horrible car collision the night before and is currently being wheeled into emergency surgery. This might sound a little callus… But with our karma, she gets a hold of yours truly instead of the manager.

[There’s a reason managers do not answer their phones first thing in the morning – it’s all those calls of – “ I’m sick.” “My kid’s sick.” “My car won’t start.” “I’m having life-saving surgery this morning and can’t make it in,” wah, wah, wah…” Managers rarely answer their phones before 9am. It’s because they don’t like personally - and this is a direct quote - “dealing with all the whiney people-shit phone calls.”]

So, where were we?? …Ah! With the SME laid up on an operating table bleeding out of his eyeballs, the Cynical Buddhist had to go and break this bit of bad news to his manager. After the perfunctory, “is he all right?,” the manager’s next question was whether or not this will impact documenting the undocumented project.
Now, rational human beings understand human tragedy and can easily figure out how the world in general is affected by such events. Managers, however, are a different and intentionally obtuse lot all together. Under normal circumstances, the proper response should have been along the lines of, “Gosh, ya’ THINK there, Sparky??!!”

Instead, with visions of the family sitting at home (mortgage payments) safely blanketed by company-paid insurance, the Cynical-Buddhist answers that, considering that the SME is currently under heavy anesthesia, it’s quite possible the project will be delayed some.

A look of concern washed over the manager’s face [NOW he gets the look - NOT upon hearing of the SME being pulverized by a two-ton hunk of metal at over 60 miles per hour]. He then responds, [Wait for it… Two… Three… Four…]

“Why did you fail to anticipate this delay?”

To most people remotely educated in the psychological arts (you saw a movie that had this line in it) – the manager was simply ‘expressing his fears and frustrations.’ What everyone else mired in reality understands – I’m now the project’s fallback-bitch.

Monday, August 8

Job Tip 13: Communication is something everyone else needs to learn

Managers have a severely limited capacity to comprehend anything beyond ten words. He/she will explain what is desired of you in practiced monosyllabic speech (for everyone around them is dumber than they are). It is no coincidence that 'manager-speak' lacks even the slightest hints of detail. To demonstrate this phenomenon, managers occasionally assign a task of writing a memo to a client. The catch is that he/she only uses their practiced monosyllabic speech to provide parameters, "You - type memo to client." Then, on cue, his/her phone rings and you are summarily dismissed with a wave of a hand as if to command, "Back to cubeland, knave!"

So, with a modicum of detail provided, you ponder the thoughts that could possibly have been filtering through your manager's head just before he/she answered the well-rehearsed phone call [cue Carl Stalling soundtrack]. You set out on your quest and draw from your vast knowledge and experience to produce whatever it is you think your manager meant.

With paper in hand [forget e-mail; he/she can't be bothered with filtering through the thousands of hourly-received messages unless the subject line includes the words: 'funny', 'joke', or 'latest office gossip…'] you deliver your product to the manager. There is the inevitable pause as he/she ponders how best to describe his/her supreme disappointment to you monosyllabically.

Now, most people - who passed the ACT with a score of at least two - will now make a mental note to simply create a draft outline to bring to the manager to peruse and make notes clarifying what he/she would really like to see before continuing.

Don't fall for this trap.

To a manager, simply showing him/her 'draft' copies only demonstrates your half-assed efforts and precociousness in attempting to circumvent his/her fractional instructions. [Get ready, here's where the-minimum-ACT-score-of-two becomes important] Managers [and coincidentally - people diagnosed with antisocial behavior disorders] do not have the capacity to think in conceptual terms. Writing 'DRAFT' in color-coded bold letters diagonally across the 8x10 sheet of paper will only solicit an incredulous response of, "The client isn't going to see this word 'DRAFT' on this?! Are they??!!" ["Dumbass!"]

At first thought, the manager's line of questioning comes across as rather obtuse. He/she is not stupid for the lack of comprehension. The manager is simply demonstrating his/her displeasure at your feeble attempt to outsmart him/her. Your guile is an affront to his/her importance in the circle of life.

This blatant display of contemptuousness will be punished by your having to re-write said memo in twelve different fonts, tones, and obscure ancient languages. Each revision will require your manager's full attention so he/she can pick apart the slightest details and send you back to documentation hell after each painfully dissected revision.

Four hours and thirteen revisions later, you slog home wondering what you actually accomplished that day. You might also begin to wonder if THIS is possibly how someone feels the day before they are to be burned at the stake.

If you think we here at the Cynical Buddhist are just being overly sensitive, here is a good - real-life - example of the level of indentured servitude we had to endure. The Cynical Buddhist worked with a manager who liked to mix fonts within her documents. Mind you, it wasn’t as easy as picking particular paragraphs to work with. Oh good Lord no! She preferred viewing (treeware and cyber) most letters in one font and the individual letters b, d, g, h, q, p, and sometimes y - in another. She claimed it was an aesthetic attention to detail. We knew this was her way of eliminating the dark brown M&Ms from the candy jar.

The next morning, you will start up your e-mail and discover yet another final revision that your manager hacked and scratched together after you departed [as evident by the numerous spelling and grammatical errors because he/she finds the automated Spell-check annoying]. He/she will include a quick note explaining how they whipped together the final version in an epileptic fit of sheer brilliance and then openly wonder why you weren't able to see the forest through the trees.

In other words, why did you have to go and make things so complicated? Idiot!

Tuesday, July 26

Job Tip 12: Sycophants - The remora of the professional world

Depending on your level of cynicism, sycophants are either A) dingle-berries hanging off a manager's ass, or B) jewels adorning a manager's crown. We here at "The Cynical Buddhist" prefer to acknowledge sycophants as mindless ass-suckers.

For a manager though, getting his/her own personal toady is a sure sign that he/she has "made it" in the business world. At first, it's quaint, or even 'laughable' to the manager. He/she easily recognizes when his/her ass is sucked on. But then, very subtly - and to the dismay of you and any other conscious subordinates - the manager inevitably becomes hooked.

Sycophants are a special breed of human totally devoid of self-respect or integrity. They see no issue with locking their lips on his/her boss' ass and holding on for all the leftover benies thrown at them. To the sycophant, it's merely politics. Toadies are more than willing to forgo their own integrity to demonstrate superior ass sucking loyalties. Here's the kicker, if you yourself attempt to nose in on a sycophant's meal ticket, you'll get your arse handed to you. There's only so much room up in a manager's colon. The manager will not appreciate you taking cues from the office whore.

Also, don't mistake the sycophant's lack of self-respect as a lack of intelligence. Self-respect has nothing to do with smarts. Case in point: Jack Welch dumped his wife of twenty-odd years and shacked up with the first 20-years-his-junior who came along to suck his dick. The bonus was that this sycophant was the editor of the Harvard Business Review. Everyone knows that he shacked up with her for reasons other than her ability to hold her own in a conversation.

What people continually forget is that the entire Jack Welch 'phenomenon' was built off of his previous wife. Yes, she received a fantastic settlement. The former Mrs. Welch has her choice of properties to prattle about anywhere between the Hamptons, Park Avenue, Lake Cuomo, and the entire Caribbean. Unfortunately, there is a finite number of cats to keep you company before being permanently labeled "crazy cat lady!"

Most people tend to forget that it was the former Mrs. Jack Welch who began with the not-so-spectacular Jack Welch. As with most marriages, I suspect she had a big hand influencing his decision-making process and the powerful business and professional influence he became. When it came time to retire, big Jack had a life-affecting decision to make about how to spend his retirement years.

Do you: a) stay with your wife of 20-odd years who isn't afraid of telling you, "I don't give a shit if you ARE the CEO of the most powerful company in the world… Pick your fucking underwear off the floor!!" Or… b) Ditch the old bag bitching about soiled knickers in favor of this new one looking up at you as she wipes the corner of her mouth and goes on-and-on about how powerful, masculine, and virile you are.

Not a hard decision really. It just cost ole Jack the bargain-basement price of half his assets. Considering how almost all managers and executives wouldn't dream of traveling without their personal sycophant, Jack Welch is a god!

Even though it goes against the nature of anybody who scored higher than two on the ACT, we here at the Cynical-Buddhist highly recommended you remain on the manager's, sycophant's good side at all times. The catch-22 of this situation is that even if you may have a civil arrangement with the office ass-sucker, this person will continue to drag your name and reputation through the mud. His/her own professional reputation is highly dependant on making everyone else in the manager's purview seem as though they are continually stepping off the turnip-truck.

This all means that manager's personal remora is untouchable. Attempt to expose a sycophant and you will be met with open hostility and the punishment of coordinating the office United Way campaign. There's a reason for this atrocity. You see, the manager has personally chosen his/her sycophant. Think of it as walking by a pet store and looking at the adorable face of a puppy (who can resist such a face?!). Even though the puppy will be pissing and crapping throughout the office and leaving a trail of destruction in his/her wake, the manager made the personal decision to accept him/her into their personal inner circle.

To criticize the manager's ass-sucker is to criticize the manager him/herself.

Wednesday, July 20

Job Tip 11: Personnel motivators

There are times when even the Evil Eye Motivational Technique® fails to work [mostly on the chronically obtuse]. The next level of ‘motivation’ in management’s arsenal is “perception”. To the uninitiated, “perception” implies a certain delineation of being an opinion; a subjective observation, judgment, or point of view. But to the cynical, we know “perception” carries more value in an organization than the truth.

To managers, this is THE essential tool for encouraging the herd. It works like this…

Say you start your workday at 8.00am each morning, eat a thirty-minute lunch at your desk, and leave sometime after 6.00pm. Your boss manages to stumble in anywhere from 8:45am to 9:45am. He/she spends his/her day between gossiping with the other managers and sycophants about his/her latest travel fiasco [“the stewardess ACTUALLY brought white wine instead of RED!!”] and surfing for the latest ‘gotta-have!’ techno-gizmos that, invariably, will be tossed aside after he/she is suitably bored.

Around 4.45pm the manager’s office begins to buzz with energy fueled by an innate need for achievement. He/she appears at your cube with a piece of paper and asks that you “get on this right away!” You can’t help but notice that it’s been aging [with slight hints of oak, plum, and raspberry…] on his/her desk for quite some time. You dutifully drop your other, now semi-urgent tasks and dive in.

By 6.15pm, it’s obvious that the task will take additional hours as well as contributions from lackeys who are much more adept at evading their own boss and left an hour ago. You start to put up for the day when your manager “happens” to stroll by [is that a slight hint of oak, plum, and raspberry…?] and inquires about the super-hyper-imperative task delegated to you “early this morning”.

As you begin to explain the concepts of time, the dependence on other key people, prior commitments, hunger pangs, and the physiological dangers of sleep depravation, he/she gets a disconcerted look across his/her face [“tell me someone did NOT just fart!”] and motions you into his/her office. When 7.00pm rolls around, with your “dedication to the organization seriously in doubt”, you are now committed to monthly time and prioritization skills reviews.

Voila! Your very own “perception” is born!

There will be subtle behavioral changes in other managers [there’s that faint hint of oak, plum, and raspberry again…] as with the toady sycophants who operate within the manager’s elite inner circle. You are hereby forever known in the company only for your poor time management and prioritization skills. The more astute will bring up “confidentiality” as an issue here. Good cynics know that anything that happens in the manager’s office is considered fodder for the gossip chain. Besides, that would constitute a “policy” and is thus ‘inconvenient’ and unnecessary for your manager to bother with.

After six months, your arse could be surgically removed from the seat cushion as testament of your devotion and resolve; it won’t make a difference. To reward your hard work and efforts to reverse a poor perception; henceforth, all performance reviews shall, without fail, mention any remotely correlated deficiencies. Among these will be: “not a team player”, “poor communication skills”, “insufferable bore”, “halitosis”, and “the economic collapse of Paraguay.”

Monday, July 18

Job Tip 10: Personal motivators

When a manager tells you he/she hasn't the time to keep track of your whereabouts; that's exactly what they're doing. If you ever find yourself falling off task, he/she will always "happen" to be around helping remind you that you're wasting precious company time. Leaving work after putting in only ten hours?! Tsk!

Management is given special motivational training to provide an evil glare that's sure to scare your lazy arse back into the chair! Hey! Management doesn't go home… What gives YOU that right? Your spouse and children are forgetting what you look like?! Boo-hoo. Your paycheck puts a roof over their heads. They should be grateful for even that!

Another great use of the Evil Eye Motivational Technique® is to glare at you for doing what you'd think comes natural. Here's a fun exercise… Alter your route to the restroom by walking past your manager's office. Use the facilities (please wash your hands) and return to your cell via the same route. There are two clues your manager is monitoring your every movement. First, he/she is up and wandering toward the vicinity of the restrooms [where DID that slacker wander off too now?!]. And secondly, he/she glances at his/her watch, with all the subtlety of a bull moose, and provides the evil eye. They'll be making a mental note to hire only constipated people from now on ["Must get with HR to include that in the job description somehow…"]

Granted, these managers are the same people who, if they were part of a bomb squad, would take a moment and order up dinner to-go before choosing between the red, green, or blue wires. They then wait until the last possible moment and re-assign [read: 'delegate'] the highly volatile task to an unsuspecting subordinate. Whilst the cleanup crew finishes mopping up the remains of the lackey's entrails, the managers have a casual dinner of Moo-Goo Gai-Pan and reflect how the idiot should have chosen the blue wire. "EVERYBODY knows it's ALWAYS the blue wire! What a dumbass. Ooo! What's your fortune cookie say?"

Does this sound a bit harsh? Well… Another true story here… We here at the Cynical-Buddhist have worked in an office where the management/executives would gather ‘round the exit every Friday evening just before 4:45pm to catch up on the latest client gossip. Subtle, huh?! Mind you, these bastards were never discussing any real business to begin with. They just wanted to see who was stupid enough to run the gauntlet. It was then interesting to note the coincidence of how performance reviews were then correlated to whomever consistently left the earliest on Friday evenings.

And folks wonder why we hate management-types.

Tuesday, June 7

Job Tip 9: "Flex time" How far can you bend?

Loathe the thought of driving the rush-hour commute? Take advantage of the company “flex-time” benefit; i.e.: come in early and stay late into the evening. Voila! No commuter traffic!

To encourage the use of “flex-time,” meetings are scheduled anywhere from 5:30p to 7:00p. Friday evenings are especially crucial because that’s when the latest client disaster surfaces that will have to be resolved before Monday morning. Granted, most of these issues could have been prevented by a modicum of project management or time management skills. But you’ll know in your heart that you’ve done a job well done!

Put a little differently, the definition of company “Flex Time” is you remaining flexible to work whatever hours are required. You’ll learn quickly to make all commitments with some statement of “tentative.”

“Why I’m honored you would name me as your child’s God-parent! The Baptism? Ooo – ahhh… Gee, I’d love to, but I may have to go in on Sunday. Big project you know… Can I call you an hour beforehand to let you know?” The next time you see this child will be at some reunion where you’ll make the inevitable remark, “I can’t believe how big he/she got! Has it been fifteen years already?!

Of a related note, there is a foolish concept of “working from home” that has been floating around for several years. While this may sound like an alluring prospect, be very careful. Managers have yet to make the profound leap of faith that people working from home can actually accomplish something. Bring up the topic of “working from home” and visions of your dancing around in your underwear while surfing the web with impunity begin to float around in his/her head.

Your butt must be glued to the company-issued, previously-stained, lack-of-lumbar support chair to be considered productive.

Thursday, May 5

Job Tip 8: Nepotism! It’s not just for friends!

Why bother with having a life outside of work? Just date someone FROM work! There’s never that pesky need to put up and go home for the night; your spouse is just a cellblo… cube away. Along with earning a salary, you will be expected to abandon any remaining tatters of your sad and pathetic personal life. That’s why you have co-workers.

You weren’t honestly going to take up hang gliding or finish that Masters anyhow.

Bonus feature: your co-workers are your only friends. You’ll be recruiting your University mates soon; all due to generous the referral bonus of lunch at the local burger joint [you’ve scraped-by on the culinary delights of Ramen soup and peanut butter for the last five and a half years -> good God Man/Woman! Free food is free food!]. Neighbors are just assholes dragging down property values. Family friends only show up every other holiday. Besides, they’re only interested going on and on about they’re own pathetic lives. They fail to comprehend how important the manager or executive is and will ask about trivial matters such as, “do you have a favorite charity?,” “are you married?”, or “do you have any children?” After a long, awkward pause, they will look down at their drinks, utter some inane phrase like, “Well, what can ya’ do?” and aimlessly wander off to find somebody who has a life.

The ugly side of nepotism is that managers, and especially executives, only hire their friends. It all has to do with being able to work with another person. And since they will be spending the better part of 14 hour days together, it only makes sense that they get along [read: good drinking buddies] without having to delve into topics like spouses, philanthropy, or [God-forbid] children. They know the executive got where they are by forgoing natural tendencies and won’t bother him/her with conversation pertaining to said drivel. Likewise, the executive knows their friends will forgo their own selfish pursuit of his/her own life in order to improve the executive’s bonus plan.

Is it any wonder there are more clinically diagnosed ‘antisocials’ working in the management ranks than in any other level of the organization?

Here’s a quick litmus test that helps define just how sick and twisted those antisocial tendencies are. During the annual company worker-bee awards banquet [seperate from the bi-weekly Sales & Marketing self-congratulatory "conferences" in Tahiti, Aruba, Pebble Beach, Deer Valley, or anywhere else exciting where the sales-gods don't have to bump into any of the other commission-draining minions], find a table close to him/her. Listen in to gauge how long he/she spends talking with the other people around the table concerning children or other familial pursuits (house, car, hobbies, or [God-forbid] – children). Compare that with how long he/she spends talking about the job, company, and/or other industry related topics. It’s a good bet that the ratio between personal / company conversations is pretty much in sync with his/her normal/antisocial tendencies. Extra points if he/she dominates the conversation. Trifecta! if he/she manages to personally piss off every person seated around the table by belittling any hobbies, choice of schools, and/or television habits.

Company recruiters have the unenviable misfortune to be housed along with the other HR disciplines. In that vein, most companies inevitably include something in their HR Mission statements to the effect of, “We don’t hire no dumbasses.”

Here’s a tip for those who remain naive enough to believe that a company’s [stated] goal is to attract and retain only the best talent available; For every job posted, from lower-level management to the upper echelons, there is always a preferred candidate [read: friend] already slated for the position. The interview processes is simply a formality devised to thwart any sign of impropriety. The poor recruiter/HR hacks have been forced to go through the motions of interviewing because the corporate lawyers have deemed it a necessary evil.

It turns out that some people have the gall to get pissed off whenever near-perfect credentials are summarily dismissed by the hiring managers. To add insult to any embarrassment, the manager’s frien… preferred candidate will only have remote schooling [his/her girlfriend/boyfriend dropped the class twice], partial knowledge of the job duties [he/she saw a person do it once], and none of the skills or abilities as originally posted in the job description [they’ll learn as they go].

Here’s another litmus test to see if there is someone the manager considers his/her frien… preferred candidate: Most companies institute a mandatory six-to-twelve month moratorium preventing people from internally job hopping. In other words, even if the perfect job were to come along, say two-weeks before you are released from your indentured servitude, you will never be allowed to submit your name. The HR hack will have to inevitably respond, with a rehearsed concerted look on his/her face, “Gosh, due to company policy, your application can’t be considered for another two weeks. Ooooo… So sorry, the job description closes one day before.

However, should the manager’s frien… preferred candidate submit his/her application [even if he/she is still filling out insurance information during their initial orientation session] the HR hack will have absolutely no recollection of any mandatory moratorium policies.

Later on, should there be any question as to the friend’s performance levels, the manager will conveniently blame any inadequacies on the recruiter because he/she was unable to pen a fair job description. Remember, managers do not hire stupid people. Therefore, it is the job description that is woefully out of synch with the reality of the job. Remember how the career-minded [read: driven] folks start off; they tend to make friends only through their work environment. This translates in later years where he/she will only trust those people he/she ever worked with before. Building trust takes time, efforts, and energies beyond a manager’s infinitesimal attention spans.

Get used to repeating the phrase, “Oh, well. At least I got to practice my interviewing skills.”

Tuesday, May 3

Job Tip 7: No Holidays!

Hate having to figure out who wants what for Christmas, birthdays, or Arbor day? No worries! You won’t be attending any family holiday functions anyway! Product cycles are conveniently timed to coincide with all major public holidays. Requests for time off are highly discouraged so there’s no need to book airfare or hotels. Think of the money you’re saving because you’re hard at work [incidentally, this policy doubles as the company’s 401k plan].

Time off or no time off? That is the question. Your manager will schedule all kinds of time off only to cancel at the very last moment. It is a show of how much the organization will whither up and die without his/her exalted presence in the office. Understand, this same level of commitment is expected of you as well.

Truthfully, it’s a ploy serving two major purposes. First, it demonstrates his/her importance in the organization. Secondly, it shows just how little faith he/she has with the idiots who do the work.

Also, remember that any illness counts as taking vacation time off. To the uninitiated, spending the day in bed hacking up a lung and hallucinating from a 103-degree fever doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. From your manager’s perspective, you didn’t spend your every lucid moment thinking of him/her. You therefore, aren’t pulling your fair share of the office workload. Granted, you got your raging pneumonia from your ‘typhoid Mary’ manager who has never taken a sick day in their life and refuses to take warnings from the Centers for Disease Control seriously.

What do the idiot doctors know anyway?

Thursday, April 28

Job Tip 6: Families are for losers!

Used to enjoy your time with Aunt Martha or Uncle Charlie? No worries, you’ve been a bitter disappointment to them since you changed majors to ‘Humanities’ or some other liberal art. They’re just glad you’re now a [just-barely] productive member of society and won’t have to keep asking them [or the Social Security Administration] for money! They can finally jet off to Cabo for some fun and relaxation without you showing up on their doorstep every other frickin’ weekend. You know, honestly, Martha hates Darjeeling and Charlie thinks your self-actualization is a load of crap. They just want to get drunk and diddle-around.

Got children? Just send child support! Most companies offer an array of convenient wage garnishment plans for when the Judge issues the final order. The children won’t realize the difference. You weren’t there for them to begin with, there’s no way you’re going to be there for them now. That’s what stepmothers/stepfathers are for.

In fact, every outside commitment you could possibly come up with [season tickets, dinner reservations, pets, court ordered community service, dying Grandparents, your thrice postponed wedding day & honeymoon] is of absolutely no excuse for slacker behavior. Your twice-divorced, alimony-paying, no-pets, alcoholic, no-vacation-in-three-years manager has devoted his/her life to the organization and expects the same level of commitment and dedication of his/her employees. The cliché managers use to justify their demanding total life, body, and soul from you is, "I wouldn't ask anything of my employees that I wouldn't do myself."

Being a narcissistic sociopath tends to help managers rationalize their way through any moral ambiguities such as this.

Go ahead and whine to HR. This is a proven method of weeding out people who waste valuable company time complaining about having to work. Remember, the HR chump will have to write up a formal letter to:

a) Send to your manager and,

b) Keep in your personnel file

This is what will be used to demonstrate your lack of “team player” attitude. When it comes time for the company to cull 15% of the workforce to show a quarterly profit, what’s the first piece of documentation you think HR is going to locate?

Everyone wants to prove themselves a productive member of the team, right?! I said, RIGHT??!!

Tuesday, April 19

Job Tip 5: A parable for the cynical…

AKA: “Let’s Cut to the Cheese

Managers, upon being knighted into the management esprit de corps, are issued a ubiquitous hardbound edition of “Who Moved My Cheese”. This is usually signed by one of the elite executives. Any time your boss hands you the book, not only does it say, “Here. This is written so simply that even you might comprehend…” it also reinforces that the executives automatically endorse whatever brand of unimaginative torment your manager dishes out to the minions.

On the surface, “Who Moved My Cheese” is a simple parable about how the world is in a constant state of change and those who don’t quickly adapt are left behind. Underneath, it is a most effective management tool in that it’s not simply a book about adapting to environmental change; it’s about being able to rapidly adapt to change brought on by your sadistic, yet flighty, manager. It uses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to point out that in order for you to keep food on the table for your family, you must react and endure to whatever narcissistic whim your manager can pull out of his/her arse. And if you don’t react quickly enough, someone else is going snatch away whatever tasty morsels were available to begin with. To sum up the book, “change happens – get over it.”

For those stuck on gathering additional information [obviously not in management – for managers are only capable at making decisions based on simplistic summaries – anything over ten words and a manager’s eyes begin to glaze over due to their brain seizing up from information overload] here is a synopsis of the book:

Three characters, little person one, little person two, and an organization [hereby affectionately referred to as “the man!”] are plodding along in their everyday lives. “The man!” decides everyone should explore other business opportunities because double-digit earnings aren’t happening fast enough.

Little person one [nobody said this was a politically correct book] takes the hint and goes off to find some new cheese. Sure enough, he finds a new pile to nibble away at. Organizational bliss/rapture ensues. “The man!” is happy.

Here's the part the consultants fail to elaborate on...
Little person two sits around bitching about “the man!” and is forced out of the company after his manager berates him for following established standards and procedures (that, coincidentally, have kept the company out of litigation). Little person two sues the company for discrimination [the term ‘little person’ comes back to bite “the man!”] and settles out of court for $5.3 million. “The man” fires little person one due to exposing the company to litigation. Besides, the salary expense can be used to help cover the settlement costs and a self-congratulatory executive lunch.

Little person two starts a consulting company and is awarded a contract to do the same thing he was doing before but now for triple his old salary.

The moral??!! … That's the whole point... There are no morals - implied or otherwise. Consultants will always be regarded as smarter than employees. Who would be dumb enough to work here on a permanent basis anyway?

Friday, April 15

Job Tip 4: Please Sir… May I have some more?

Risk managers have single-handedly destroyed American innovation.

Granted, the dot-bomb implosion and the terrorist explosions of the early ‘aughties gave ever-anal risk assessors and financial analysts all the proof needed to kill off innovation for the next twenty years. To submit a proposal or any inkling of an unapproved idea is to subject yourself to a line of questioning similar to what was practiced during the Spanish Inquisition. People have been bludgeoned and burned in elevator lobbies for merely uttering the words, “Hey, you know what would be cool…” [At that moment, a team of highly trained risk specialists – replete in black, sporting night-vision goggles and corporate attorney handbooks - rappel off the roof of whatever corporate tower and crash through the glass whilst aiming the latest reprinting of the condensed “9/11 Commission Report.” Your co-workers scamper off to hide into whatever cube is available as your manager shoves you toward the risk commandos, “You’re on your own!”]

The risk manager and financial analysts sole purpose in an organization, and in life, is to guide companies and America hurtling toward mediocrity. Anytime somebody in an organization comes up with anything remotely different than what is current status-quo, his/her manager is specially trained to dash in and quash the thought. This rogue is then reprimanded because they are spending too much time daydreaming and not enough time completing his/her given menial task.

Companies liken imagination in terms of ‘disruptive innovation’. We most certainly wouldn’t want anyone disrupting his/her organization with crazy thoughts not conjured in the executive wing. Innovation takes some semblance of imagination; and thus, is either completely beaten or breed out of management types.

To wit, a manager routinely hauls unsuspecting employees out back and whips them for daring to point out that the Emperor-Manager is indeed 'nekked'. Expressing an innovative thought, or concern for doing something better is pointing out a flaw in the manager’s armour. While thankful an executive did not find the flaw first, the manager is still obligated to flog his/her subordinates for possessing negative and disruptive attitudes.

Friday, April 8

Job Tip 3: Your paycheck is your ‘thanks’

Ever hear the phrase “giving credit where credit is due”? It’s a load of crap designed to lull university students into believing their parent’s tuition payments and all the outstanding student loans hold some sort of value.

This is the ‘real’ world. You receive a paycheck; therefore you are now an indentured servant. Nobody is going to personally extend a hearty handshake or utter “thank you” for doing something expected of you to begin with. The days of maintaining your self-esteem and showing gratitude for doing something for minimalist efforts are over. The management technique now is to figure out how to break your spirit without sending you to Alcoholics Anonymous (though it would be amusing to see what new excuse you come up with every Tuesday evening).

Anything you do, no matter how brilliant, inspired, or imaginative, will be met with a sniffle of contempt and a perfunctory, “I’ll look at it when I have a chance.” Two weeks later, senior management will, with great flourish, parade into your manager’s office to personally escort him/her out on a congratulatory lunch for his/her bit of brilliant inspiration. One guess as to what the fanfare is all about…

Another bit of advice, go above and beyond what was asked and you are sure to be reprimanded because you weren’t implicitly instructed to do so. What would ever possess you to go off on your own without management’s instruction anyway?

What are you standing around for? Isn’t there something you should be working on right now?

Thursday, February 24

Job Tip 2: Your manager is the ultimate expert on whatever it is you do

Commit this phrase to memory just as soon as possible.

Save your time, hassle, and sanity suspending disbelief over what on earth possesses your manager to think the way he/she does. You could have a doctorate, every certificate known to man, and twenty years experience contributing to a professional opinion. None of that will matter.

Fact and reason will have little or nothing to do with forming a decision. The manager’s perception and speculation is all that will be required. He/she will tell you your professional opinion whenever it is needed.

The reason managers refuse to accept your professionalism is because he/she has done, whatever it is you do, at least once in their life. Either that or someone they vaguely remember once talked about it over cocktails. Because of that, he/she is now an expert. To make matters worse, he/she holds an executive-signed copy of “Who Moved My Cheese” that provides all the ranks and privileges to belittle your selected profession as trite or insignificant.

Put another way, a thousand monkeys banging on a thousand typewriters can do what you do (allegories are simply lost on the managerially-inclined). Just be sure to keep up with the price of monkey chow. It’ll be time to dust off your resume when the cost of feeding a thousand monkeys costs less than your salary.

Wednesday, February 23

Job Tip 1: Check your brains at the door

Your manager got where he/she is simply because they understand office politics and survived without being caught in the undertow. Watch them well but don’t even try to pull the same stunts [in this case, imitation is NOT the most sincere form of flattery].

Say anything contrary to what management wants to hear and you can kiss your [slim to none] chances at the three percent annual raise goodbye. Don’t bother asserting a professional opinion, or worse, holding on to what’s left of your integrity. You left your integrity behind after your drunken amateur porn-film “experiment” was posted on the net [cue “Sanford & Son” soundtrack]. Be thankful for the notoriety. You know the brown-nosed dingle-berry who seems to show up in the boss’s office at just the right times [never in the morning when managers are at their least caffinated]? THAT’s who receives the yearly raise and bonus allotments.

All that twaddle about skills, knowledge, and abilities mentioned during the job interview was designed to suck you into this circle of hell. Management hasn’t the slightest interest in what you did before you signed the papers. University provided nothing of value except for the stamina to hold your liquor and belch soliloquies [excellent preparation for marketing and sales though].

Work experience acquired anywhere else is immaterial. That would require your manager to think beyond his/her immediate world. He/she has a hard enough time remembering where their car is parked. Ever wonder why manager’s parking spaces are assigned? It’s to keep them from aimlessly wandering around the parking garage. This also solved the lack of productivity issue of subordinates being sent out to track down their manager’s car. Turned out the manager’s were forgetting they carpooled those days – and neglected to share this tidbit of information with anyone.

[Flashback to manager and division VP staring out the window wondering what that dumbass is doing wandering around the parking lot instead of working.]

Your job here on out is to simply do as instructed; no more [nobody likes a show-off suck-up!] – no less [nobody likes a lazy slacker!]. For shits and grins, your manager will even kick you around for doing as instructed. The manager’s job is to trivialize your very existence.

Check your self-worth at the door. There’s no commercial use for it.

Tuesday, February 22

Of fun with employment and cult compounds

[cue ringing telephone…]

Let’s start this cavalcade off by mentioning that I am thoroughly grateful to be employed, insured, and otherwise caffinated. With that bit of Maslow-esque rubbish out of the way, let’s move to the more interesting bits. You see, after the better part of fifteen years of my life spent pursuing a career in training and organizational development, I’m thoroughly convinced a person has to be clinically diagnosed as ‘antisocial’ to ascend into the management ranks [along with bits of ‘narcissist’ and ‘psychotic’ peppered in for grins and giggles]. For those stuck on DSM III standards, the terms are ‘sociopathic’ and ‘psychopathic’. For our purposes, there is no real distinction between the two. Either trait works fine for regressing into management.

We here at ‘The Cynical Buddhist” have put together a comprehensive survivor’s guide for those who have recently graduated from university and were fortunate enough to find a [just] high-enough paying job before being forced to move back in with Mom & Dad. In your euphoria of graduating and landing a job that pays for rent and better beer (or real martinis), you will be faced with what the rest of the world refers to as “harsh reality.” Your parents conveniently neglected to pass along this bit of knowledge because you would have no motivation to graduate [and moved back in with them]. University professors don’t bother to prepare you for “harsh reality” because there is a quota for recruiting MBA and other masters candidates. Again, there is no motivation quite as effective as “harsh reality.” Once people get slapped across the face with reality, they will do anything to avoid getting caught up in it.

And now for the underlying motivation for publishing these bits of personal wisdom… We here at ‘The Cynical Buddhist’ are in awe over the fact that the very people who should not be trusted to care for any living organism are inevitably picked to manage others. Submit Exhibit A: the certain bone-dry philodendron collecting dust on the top of your manager’s dusty bookcase. Submit Exhibit B: in this same bookcase are the unending series of psychobabble books their managers prescribed for them. Notice how the spines aren’t cracked or wrinkled?
How is it that the very people who despise anyone other than a corpse [for there’s an immediate finality to the relationship] are the ones promoted as managers?

“So mate, what’re your thoughts on the human race?”
“Well Mr. EVP… Here’s how I see it… People exist simply to annoy me and expel copious amounts of gas.”
“That’s great!! I want you to manage a group of people. Here’s your copy of ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ and a gas mask. Enjoy!”

To the non-managerially inclined, the concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are guiding factors when toiling away at work. They work to live. If a person is lucky enough, they find a proper balance between work and life. This isn’t a new concept either. This happened even before tribes began trading skins and crops with one another [we’ll cover pre-historic mergers and hostile takeovers in later chapters].

Conversely, managers take a solemn oath to undermine any hope or vestige of life, liberty, as well as stamp out any pursuit of happiness. For those of you reading this who aspire to join the management ranks, here is a simple test to see if you qualify for management… Which of the following statements is true:

a) People are dynamic organisms that require a modicum of care and attention in order to achieve organizational and personal success.
b) Why are you wasting my time? I stopped taking tests my junior year in college.

Put down your pencils. If you couldn’t be bothered to read the question (much less slog through the answers); congratulations!! You are prime management material! Impudence is the key managerial concept employed for the purposes of this exam. Here’s your drink.

If you answered b) - a conditional certificate will be issued and you will have an additional six months to read through the abridged texts of Sun Tzu, the Marque de Sade, and Scott Adams. During those six months, you will be loosely observed and provided with subjective criticisms that have nothing to do with your professional development. After six months, you will be castigated for even entertaining the notion of human decency and will be publicly scoffed by the division EVP for being too left wing for your own damn good (tree hugger!). Additionally, the Scott Adams assignment is meant as a guide, not satire. Anybody laughing at the outrageousness obviously won’t comprehend the ulterior motivations for employing sadistic torture.

If your answer is a) then I’m afraid I have a bit of bad news; your application wasn’t even considered. Anybody who retains the capacity to empathize is immediately disqualified and hereby remanded to a 4x5 cube and sentenced to an additional five years of subjective perception. During such time your contributions and self-worth will be ridiculed as feeble and trite. At the end of the five-year period, if you are too daft to take the hint and leave, a fresh, ripe virgin just out of university (and desperate for any wage) will be brought in at a much lower cost to replace you. [It’s good to see how management embraces the classics – Carnegie was a genius at exploiting immigrant labor!]

It’s for the best dears. Your integrity will be tired and used up. Nobody likes the lingering odor of ‘sloppy seconds’ anyhow. By then, your organizational attitude should be progressing from mere ‘skepticism’ well into outright ‘cynicism’.

It’s on this last thought that the following tips and hints are presented for making your professional life a tad more palatable. You see, after many years and a several failed leadership regiments later, I’ve found it much simpler to think of everyone in charge of the corporate world as completely insane. It’s from this base that we work backward and reveal what depths of insanity we’re working with.

One last concept needs to be brought up before delving into any advice. These axioms were crafted to provide advice, or rather some “survival gear” for the lower 80th percentile. The 80th percentile is a management philosophy where 20 percent of your staff provides 80 percent of the “viable” product and overall productivity. The remaining 80 percent of staff is considered “deadwood” and only contributes 20 percent of the productivity. It’s at this point that I usually remind everyone that managers are the ones who are responsible for delegating work assignments, coordinating the communication efforts, and guiding the overall manner with which tasks are completed. But then, there’s a reason why this is written under a pseudonym labeled ‘The Cynical Buddhist’.

Where was I? Oh, yes… ‘The Cynical Buddhist’ proudly presents…

The Cynic’s guide to professional survival

Introduction: The Kool-aid is tasty too!
Here at * * * * Industries, we believe in creating a family atmosphere where people can work, play, and attend group therapy together due to the lack of personal focus (we get a great group rate too!). All we ask is that you give up any semblance of a life by devoting all your time, effort, and energies to an unending series of debacles. After sucking whatever tattered remnants of life you desperately attempt to hold on to, we promise to jettison your carcass at the slightest inkling of shareholder displeasure. We’ve given up our dreams and aspirations. Why should you have any?

What will follow is a list of inactions to help steer your way through the first few weeks of your professional life. You’re young and clueless about the circle of hell you are about to descend into. You’re full of verve, energy, and anxiousness about to take charge of the world and show everyone how its done! A good analogy would be a thoroughbred stomping at the sand while in the gates. The race is about to begin and you know you are going to take charge the moment those gates fly open…

It should be noted at this juncture that only the top ten percent of the horses ever retire out to stud. The remaining ninety percent end up in the little bottles of glue sucked down by the "creative" elementary school children. The analogy works the same in the professional world. Your manager’s job (jockey) is to beat whatever soul and passion you might have out of you so that in the end, the executives (owners) may perch on your back and collect the accolades. Here... Enjoy a carrot on us.