Workplace Humor…Real-Life Work Skills/Competencies

office space
It bothers me that you would ask.  

I know it’s coming, looming like a dull summer storm – my annual goal setting process.  I rate the entire experience right up there with root canal and ingrown toenails (not the fun ones, but the pus-oozing kind).

What skills will you develop?  What competencies will you improve upon?  Blah blah blah.  That got me thinking – what are the real-life skills and competencies that we all recognize?  Here is my suggested list:

Timing a work break for when leftover food from meetings is put out for the taking.

Toggling between Facebook and work product before your manager sees what you are really doing.

Convert leadership ambiguity to tangible actions.

Getting that guy or gal that constantly late for meetings up to speed in two minutes or less.

Pretending (convincingly) to give a damn.

Ability to ignore incessant whining and grumbling from colleagues.

Writing annual goals that sound impressive but are really everyday tasks that can be documented as accomplished in the first month of the fiscal year.

Disinfecting shared workspace. Eww…

Optimizing the theft of office supplies based on value rather than need.

Laughter suppression.  I hear a lot of stuff every day that is batshit fuc*ing crazy.

Apprehension of the office refrigerator thief.  Bob, I don’t care if you take my food, but you touch my Diet Mountain Dew again, and they will be outlining your body on chalk in the kitchenette.

Anticipating leadership whims and changes of direction before they become full-blown crisis’s.

Staying awake in meetings that you clearly shouldn’t have been invited to.

Creating PowerPoint decks that meet company graphic standards and are still oddly useful.

Rapidly scanning a rambling, jumbled email to ascertain what is actually important.

Holding my bladder of bowels during long meetings where they don’t stop for bio-breaks..

Listening to an unqualified someone tell me how to do my job when and suppress the urge to kill them.

Suppressing audible farts in meetings or other public spaces (especially elevators).

Active anger control.  There are some people that wouldn’t be with us today if I had not demonstrated this competency.

Calculating my time to retirement (days/weeks/hours/minutes)

Finding the right graphic for my PowerPoint deck.

Selecting the right category and dollar amount to avoid having my expense report audited.

Tactfully pointing out that the meeting is running long without adding, “because you can’t manage a damn meeting you moron!”

Creating the illusion that I care about feedback. Lots of head-nodding here.

Putting together a budget based on reality that still accounts for my manager’s bizarre pet projects.

Not reacting to the new “crisis” until I determine if it is, indeed, a crisis.

Shifting blame to a more guilty party than myself.

Minimal achievement of dress code.

Selecting the right charge code for my timesheet.

Not sacrificing productivity during a reorganization.

Pretending I care about my career, my current assignment, my company, etc.

Artful doodling when I should be paying attention.

Plotting the exotic deaths of annoying coworkers. I’ll bet if I push that laser printer out of the window when you leave – it will crush you.

Taking brilliant items and distilling them into meaningless (bland) bullet points on a PowerPoint slide.

Moving files to the right folder in Sharepoint.  I cannot express my hatred of SharePoint enough in a mere blog post.

Putting things in Excel that should never be in Excel.  Likewise working on things in Excel that should have been done in another application.

Updating my Linkedin profile so that I appear quasi-competent yet joyfully ambivalent.

Writing candid feedback for employees I barely knew, but for some reason, they requested my input. What project were we on together?

Decoding often pointless and confusing/contradictory messages from leadership.

Being responsible for my own actions.  “Not only did I do it…if given the same opportunity, I’d do it again!”

Following standards that make little sense or don’t apply to me.

Attending anniversary or farewell parties for peers I don’t like or don’t care about.

Attending team building activities after hours and not show my contempt for taking away precious hours from my private life.

Dodging douchbaggery and the douchbags that spread it.  Yes – I made up the word douchbaggery.

Succinctly summarizing and pointing out the obvious to people who would not recognize it if it kick them in the nutsack.

Rearranging my life around people who cannot use the calendaring function in Outlook, or who have no concept of different time zones and working hours.

Extinguishing fires that lesser people have set.

Resume’ updating because I feel my job is being threatened…again…still.

Stepping up to the plate rather than attempting to deflecting work.

Demonstrating more technical skills than the help desk when troubleshooting my problems.

Faking a positive attitude as my career is under siege.

Rubbing someone’s nose in their own mistake(s) without using the phrase, “I told you so.”

Providing professional consultation that is completely disregarded and/or ignored.

Going to mute on the first hint of a bark from my dog while working at home.

Fixing other people’s mistakes.

Coming up with funny nicknames for coworkers “Here comes Captain Kickback and Queen Clusterfu*k.”

Providing concise feedback on messages and communications that is completely disregarded or ignored.

Suppressing laughter at completely inappropriate moments.

Congratulating people on promotions that they clearly didn’t deserve or earn.

Attending training off-hours because “we’re global.”

Offering my professional experience and expertise and smiling while it is blatantly ignored.

Savoring the sweet drinking container filled with caffeine first thing in the morning.

Not demonstrating my outright revulsion our nausea when the annual promotion list is issued. “Are you out of your fu*king minds?”

Comprehending which stupid request can be ignored, and which ones have to be acted on immediately.

Advanced listening…especially when people are whining about how horrible this place can be at times.

Moving my more mundane and pointless work to others.

Use of perfectly timed profanity based on stakeholder audience.

Accepting blame for things my superiors screwed up or outright ignored my corrective suggestions about.

Diagnose and troubleshoot Skype connectivity issues during the first three minutes of every single damn conference call I’m on.

Digesting what is served in the guise of “lunch” in the cafeteria.

Suppression of laughter when the new person tells us how they are going to “fix all of our obvious problems.”

Taking complex technical solutions and breaking them down into things that are understandable by normal people.

Applying an ample dose of humor at just the right time to shatter tension.

Knowing when to apply a process, and when to toss it out the window.

Detection and acknowledgement of good sarcasm in the workplace.

Quick understanding of what is a real crisis and what is a made-up-blown-out-of-proportion-panic.

Demonstrating a lack of self-awareness while placing my career at risk over some corporate cause du jour.

Unwillingness to compromise my principles and values despite daily pressures to do so.

Perform minor miracles with decimated budgets, lack of manpower, and conflicting directions from leadership.

Ability to pile on in a conversation so that I appear more engaged.

stress

Did I miss any?

Workplace Humor – Things Never Heard in the Office

The Office

I feel the need for a little blast of office humor.  Here’s my list of things that have never been said in the workplace.  Enjoy!

I love it when you microwave leftover fish in the kitchenette.  The smell is divine!

Oh boy, a PowerPoint presentation!  I haven’t seen one of those in a while.

I get to have lunch every day.

After hours meetings are my favorite.

You don’t have to tell me what my raise is this year – I like surprises.

I really respect how you ignored my previously scheduled meetings and put yours out right on top of other people who can use Outlook correctly and were courteous.

My favorite part is when you read your PowerPoint slides to me because I can’t read.

There was no traffic when I came in today.

I love it when you send me material at 11:30pm and expect me to respond in a half an hour.

There’s no way we are going to blame the vendor for this mess.

My headcount/staff additions have all been approved.

I would bet my life on the technologies we use here at work.

My career is right on track.

I love the way you give developmental feedback.  It’s SO useful.

My two favorite times of the year are annual performance reviews and goal setting.

Information Security is VERY flexible.

I don’t mind changing that thing we agreed to eight months ago, now that we’re two days before launch.

I sure hope this web based learning has a comprehensive test at the end of it.

We will never have layoffs in this organization.

Your idea is much better than mine.

It’s a good thing we have highly competent leadership to get us through this.

You’ll have plenty of time built into the schedule.

Skype is my favorite consistent tool for having meetings.

Nothing motivates me more than having someone threaten my job.

Thank goodness for the dress code.

No, I don’t mind if this meeting runs over a half an hour or so…I wasn’t doing anything after this anyone.

I’m completely in the loop.

I love business travel…it never interferes with my private life.

No, 5:00am isn’t too early for me to meet.

I’ll buy my own office supplies.

I think all of the smokers huddled near the entrance is cute.

I wish the company would make me install more apps on my personal smart phone.

Our telephone technical support is awesome.

You can’t possibly over-document a process.

No, 192 slides in your presentation is not too many.

I have all of the information I need to get this done on time.

Pivot tables are fun on a bun.

I love it when you use Excel as a word processor.

We have too many vacation and holidays here.

Wow are you being flexible!

I was hoping you’d ask me to donate to your favorite charity/cause/event.

I could fly business class, but I thought it best to save the company money, so I opted for coach.

Strategic alliances always work out for the best.

My PC is too fast.  Can I get an older, slower model?

I wish I had the same carpet we have in the office at home.  It’s SO plush and hides stains well…

No one on our team is stressed.

I appreciate the offer of promotion, but I think it’s a little premature in my career, don’t you?

Wow look at all of the white board markers in this conference room.  And they all are new!

Oh boy, the annual budgeting process is starting!

I find that the wingdings font helps make things much clearer.

It is helpful that you have dived into the weeds.

I love that new acronym.  It makes my understanding complete.

I missed what you said because I was updating Facebook.

Do I have to take a holiday off?

I work best when I am given an unreasonable deadline and no resources to meet it.

I love it when company leadership adjusts our pension plan.

I am glad they give us so much time to attend training.

PowerPoint solves everything.

Moving the timeline up won’t cause any problems.  We can do it sooner with no issues.

I wish we could eat in the cafeteria after hours…it’s my favorite restaurant.

I cherish the moments I spend waiting for technical support to figure out who I am.

I could sure use more spam in my inbox.

I was thinking that this might be a good time to panic.

Oh boy…I get to change my password this afternoon!

You can just ignore the agenda.

Threatening my job inspires me to do better.

Could you micromanage me some more?  I find it helpful.

I want to take the time to read the entire document before asking any questions.

I can’t wait for the next reorganization.

If you stopped paying me, I would still come in and do the work.  This place is that awesome.

I wish they would move employee parking further away from the office.

Snowstorm days are my favorite days to come into the office.

I think I’m grossly overpaid for what I do.

We always accomplish a lot during lunch meetings.

Thank goodness you involved me early on this project.

This place would make an awesome movie.

Our bathrooms here are spotless.

I want to transfer to the mail room.

I have too much respect for our IT Department.  I brag to my friends about how great ours is.

I don’t mind that you interrupted me…your words are more important than mine.

Our company spends too much time worrying about the impact of decisions on the staff.

I’ve never had an issue getting my expenses reimbursed.

Open floorplans and shared workspace really boost productivity (and provide all the privacy I need).

You guys go home…I want to stay late and work on this.

It’s very convenient to work with people in other time zones.

You’re being way too flexible.  I work best with a lot of structure.

I attend these meetings because the lunch they provide is so tasty.

The best time of the day is the two hours I spend going each way to and from work.  It’s “me” time.

Raising your voice makes me believe you are more correct.

The problem is that the company communicates meaningful and useful information to us too often.

Our customers are far too patient.

Your kid is selling something at school?  Put me down for four of whatever it is.

Your PowerPoint presentation thrilled, motivated, and inspired me.

We need more rules to govern us.

This isn’t just a job, it is a career.

I’m going to take some personal time this afternoon to clean the kitchenette area and do the dishes there.

I want to hear more about how you are going to fix all of the problems in our department…after being here two weeks.

You have a good grasp of the big picture.

Could you use more technical phrases when you explain it to me?

Six point font is totally readable.

They would never lay me off or outsource my job.  I’m invaluable.

Nothing says lovin’ like mandatory learning!

Can everyone on the call stay off of mute? Feel free to put this conference call on hold if we are boring you.

I love it when your dog barks in the background.

Go ahead and finish your text message, what I was saying wasn’t important anyway.

That doctor/dentist’s appointment can wait.  I need to finish this spreadsheet.

SAP is pretty intuitive to implement.

I’d love to do a group photo for the company’s web page (or SharePoint site).

When I work at home I wear the same things as when I’m in the office.

Video calls are a blast.

Gosh darn it, my inbox is empty.

You can skip my raise this year.  Working here is reward enough for me.

Boy does the refrigerator in the kitchenette smell and look clean!

I hope we get to do a mandatory, after-hours team building event!

Don’t worry about the budget.  We trust you.

I like being triple-booked for meetings.  It means I’m popular.

Town hall meetings are a productive use of my time.

This is exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated college.

How early can I get into the office to start work?

The greatest joy I have in the week is filling out my timesheet.

Can you put me on a failing project?  I want a real challenge.

Can I have a copy of that poster in the breakroom?  I’d like to hang it up in my apartment.

Linkedin has improved my career measurably.

Your happiness is what motivates me.

That data analysis you prepared was dreamy.

It’s not a problem you showed up late for the meeting.  We looked forward to catching you up.

The new hires we get from colleges really fit into our culture well.

I’m comfortable with you being smarter than me.

Whatever you do, don’t prioritize my work.

Please, withhold more information that I need to do my job.

I wish I had the stamina to work longer days.

I am sure our leadership has considered all points of view.

Of course I’m comfortable with taking a demotion.  All that matters is that I get to work here with you.

One of the reasons I stay here are the great chachkis I have accumulated over the years…especially stress balls.

Open enrollment is fun.

I’d much rather take web-based learning rather than go to Vegas to attend a seminar.

The company spared no expense on the toilet paper they purchased.

Aw rats, it’s 5:00pm!  I have to leave work.

Free leftover cookies from the meeting?  No, I’d much rather pay for them.

I’m ignoring that fire alarm…work is more important.

Who farted in here?  Whew!

I live for the random changes in direction.

No, I’m not interested in your latest rumor that could impact my career.

No thanks, coffee makes me too nervous.

I don’t mind being called “Bloodsucking Overhead” in the least.

Our corporate logo brings me joy.

Go ahead and go over your allotted time.  Your incoherent rambling is far more important than the other speakers.

No, I don’t need a bio-break.  We’ve only been in the meeting non-stop for five hours.

You don’t need to spell it.  Ackaraspapu is a pretty common name.

We’ve had so much fun on this project, let’s get together tonight after hours and hang out.

Please keep your smart phone out.  Feel free to do texts during the meeting. I know you’re paying attention.

My favorite part is when you talked down to me.

I’ll use the broken chair.

I don’t think the profitability matters.

I DO care about your petty little opinion – very much so.

Usually one has to go to a McDonalds or Taco Bell to find someone of your management stature.

I’m sorry, can you repeat that?  I wasn’t paying attention because your presentation was so incredibly boring.

I was hoping I might be able to lay some of my people off.

All of the awards our company wins really makes me feel positive about how things are going.

Someone wrote ‘Don’t erase” on the whiteboard.  I’m sure that was just a joke.

Yes, a mandatory after hours dinner sounds like a lot of fun. I often fantasize about eating with m co-workers.

Isn’t that the same outfit you wore yesterday?

We don’t need to worry about backing up our data – hard drives hardly ever fail.

Mentioning your rank in our discussion impressed me.

I don’t mind you canceling the meeting I prepared for at the last possible moment.  My time has little value.

There’s no need for us to meet, I read all of the material you sent in advance.

I was going to have a meeting, but sent an email instead.

The time you spent busting my balls was very helpful and will resolve all of the problems you were complaining about.

I’m going to update my passwords now, before I get those useful and courteous reminder messages.

I feel safe and secure because our building security folks are top notch experts in their field.  They are practically ninjas.

I think the best time for us to get the team together to work through this is after hours on Friday.

Your inability to follow an agenda is respectful of everyone on the call.

No, my significant other doesn’t mind at all if we cancel our personal plans so I can attend this meeting.

You are correctly using the word, “crisis” to describe this situation.

We could get more done if you weren’t a maniacal egotistical douchebag.

Being on a technology pilot is how I define a good time.

This place can’t function without you and your keen insights and swift decision making.

What will solve this problem is a good graphic image.

I don’t mind moving my personal vacation plans to accommodate your pseudo-crisis.  It would be my pleasure.

I love our password policy.  Keeping the same password for more than two weeks is boring.

I think it’s great you joined the call late.  It reminds us all of how important you are.

I can’t believe your former employer let you go.  You’re a keeper!

Because it worked at your last company I’m sure it will work here too.

Our organizational chart is sleek.

I LIVE to take another company survey because they always take swift, positive and noticeable action based on the results.

I can hear you too clearly on Skype.

By all means, tell me how to do my job more efficiently

I would never say that about you to your face.

I don’t mind not getting lunch all week so that I can work.

I’m checking my emails on vacation because I want to.

I don’t need to write my name on my lunch…my coworkers would never steal it.

My bonus was too large.

You have a bizarre definition of the word, “Winning.”

No, we’re not top-heavy with senior management.

I don’t know how this organization functioned without your brilliant leadership.

I’ve found outsourcing the work improves the quality, speed, and saves money almost every time.

I like the way you panic.

Don’t worry about what charge code to use.

I have saved every one of the t-shirts I’ve ever received from the company.

Renaming a project/product always solves all of its problems.

When I’m on a business trip I always eat at the cheapest place I can find.

My spreadsheet printed right the first time.

I believe filling out a status report every week is some of my most productive time I spend at work.

I get depressed when my manager calls in sick or goes on vacation.

I can’t talk now, the new issue of the company newsletter just arrived in my inbox and I can’t wait to read it.

I’m eligible to retire but I think I’ll stay on because I love working here so much.

Look – someone left me extra office supplies on my desk.

If we had more senior leaders working on this issue we’d solve it faster.

Enjoy my little snarky attempt at humor?  Check out my book: Business Rules

The Cynic’s Guide to Making Your Meetings Effective

EffectiveMeetngs-page-0
My snapshot of a typical week’s worth of meetings – totally scientific.  

I have spent the better part of my daytime career in meetings, and I am no better for it. If people were compensated by how effective their meetings are, most would be living in cardboard boxes or in a van down by the river.  Even worse, most people don’t seem to care that the way they run meetings sucks.

When I was at Ford, we determined that our division lost upwards of $50k a day on poorly run meetings.  We changed that with intensive training and some simple rules.  I have learned a few things along the way, so allow me to share (in my usual snarky way)…

  • Have an agenda. I recently got back to this.  You don’t have write War and Peace – just a line or two about what the meeting is about.  Are you driving for a decision?  Then state that.
  • Start and end on time. People eventually get the idea that you are being effective. I never start more than two minutes after the scheduled time.  Sorry dude, that’s just how I roll.  Either be there or not – but this train is rolling out of the station.  Starting and ending on time is showing respect to people.
  • Don’t stop to catch someone up. That just burns time.  If that person needs to know what they missed, talk to them one-on-one later.
  • If you don’t have the right people in the meeting – then kill the meeting. If someone says, “We really can’t do it without Joan’s input,” then say you’ll reschedule with Joan.  Corollary:  Invite the right people to the call to begin with.  Don’t invite the whole world.  Invite the minimum number of folks needed to meet the objectives of the call/meeting.
  • Don’t read your PowerPoint deck. It is hard to believe, but most of the people on the call attended school and can read (though sometimes that is questionable with senior leadership.) Your slides should reinforce what you have to say.  And the fewer slides, the better.
  • Document the decision or summary of the meeting. One sentence can do it.
  • Silence does not mean agreement. Whoever the idiot was that first said, “If you’re silent I assume you’re agreeing,” clearly doesn’t understand people.  Sometimes I am quiet because I can’t think of non-swear words to convey my shock and awe at the raw stupidity of what I have just been told.
  • Engage everyone. If you invited people to the call you must want to know what they think.  If they are being quiet, ask them what their perspective is.
  • Facilitate your meeting. There are some people who are just blowhards.  They babble on-and-on just to wear out everyone else.  Keep the meeting on point.  Feel free to time-box discussions.  “We’re going to allow 15 minutes for debate on this subject.”  Personally, I like cutting people off when they are on some rambling tangent – but I’m partially evil.
  • Acknowledge people’s contributions. “Thanks Stephanie – that was a good point you raised.”
  • Schedule your call for the smallest amount of time necessary. We’re all busy.  Don’t schedule an hour for something that should take 20 minutes just because you’re paranoid that Mary is going to pontificate her perspective.  Surprisingly you can get most things done in the time you allot if you run your meeting right.
  • If you check that phone one more time I will break your fingers. You’re not in the meeting to play with your phone.  Shut it off or stuff it in your pocket.

Most of this stuff falls into the category of, “common sense,” but let’s face it, that is a rare commodity in most offices.  Share this with the guiltier members in your team.  There’s a chance they will get a clue and even if they adopt two of these suggestions, you’re ahead of the game.

Want more snarky ideas for work?  Check out my book – Corporate Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.  

 

Office Humor – Technology Support Model

supportmodel
A universal model for technology support 

A friend and I were talking at work about how we need to have one model for support for tools and stuff.  That got me thinking about how generic support has become.  Back “in the day” we used to do a lot more pure troubleshooting – using your general knowledge and instincts to resolve problems.  In recent years in the industry there is a push to make support a commodity…making the experience the same for everyone trumped good old fashioned “stand back and let me work my fucking magic.”  Scripts with procedural steps that drive you insane are turning good techs into guys and gals that read scripts.

Don’t feed me that bull about, “this makes for a consistent experience.”  This is actually about moving support to low-cost locations.  It also sucks from a customer satisfaction perspective.  Have you ever called for support on something like your internet connectivity at home?  All of us reboot the modem before we call, we know that’s a step.  But when you get Comcast (in some exotic land) on the call, they tell you to do it.  “I already did – move to the next step.”  “I am sorry sir – I am required to make you do it.”  Sidebar:  I lie to them, tell them that I am rebo0ting – just because I can and hate the idiocy of the process.

So, I started thinking about the most generic support model every tech support can use. This is draft and aimed at making you smile – especially my friends in support.  Enjoy the image above!

 

Real-Life Causes of Workplace Stress

dwight
Don’t be a Dwight

I had a boss once brag that, “I don’t have stress – I’m a carrier.”  When he boasted that, it took a monumental amount of restraint to not say, “Actually, you’re a douchebag.”  Stress is a reality of work.  As such, it was finally time for me to tackle the subject…in my usually snarky fashion.  Strap in and prepare for the ride…

I was going to lead off with the traditional causes of stress at work… you know the usual culprits:

  • Things I want to do but can’t.
  • People’s values and actions clash with my own.
  • Things don’t meet my expectations.

Yawn.  I almost put myself to sleep.  While quasi-accurate, these reasons are too high level and lack the kick necessary to detail true sources of workplace stress.  As such, here is my attempt at a comprehensive list – in an unranked order.   These have come from a lot of different sources, friends in other organizations, etc.  Don’t try and attribute these to my current employer…

Project managers with no sense of reality. “Seriously, do you own a calendar?”

Deadlines that are just pulled out of someone’s ass.  “Why November 13th?”  “Why not?”  “It’s a Sunday.”  “I don’t care, that’s the date I chose.”  “I understand, you’re a dick.”

Colleagues that cook food that reeks in the office kitchenette.   “What is that smell, garlic roasted lizard scrotum?”

Mandatory social events after hours.  In fact, mandatory-anything contributes to my stress level.

When IT staff uses technical lingo for the sake of using technical lingo.  “Stop creating acronyms to sound intelligent!”

People that use shared workspaces and leave it in a mess.  “What did you do here – surgery?”

Individuals that swap out a defective office chair for mine.

Anyone involved with stocking office supplies.  “Are you a time traveler from the past?  A dozen three-hole punches?  Three-ring binders?  Ledger sheets?  I need a binder maybe once every ten years.  How about stocking some pens, paper, and maybe a thumb-drive?”

Technology people that blame problems on end-user ignorance.  “It works fine, you’re just too stupid to use it or realize how great it really is.”

Any conversation about internally branding anything.  “I could seriously go the rest of my life without hearing the word ‘branding.’

Project teams deliberately set up in five different global time zones.  “Our team call is at 5am because we don’t own a globe or access the internet.”

Co-workers who schedule meetings without consideration for anything I have in my calendar.  “You do see that I am not available in that time slot, don’t you—moron?”

Managers who make arbitrary decisions about people’s careers without discussing it with them. “I’m moving you to Dawn’s team – surprise!”

Leaders who reorganize more than twice a year.  “You know, after fifteen of these, it might dawn on you that the problem isn’t how the team is structured – it’s the fact you keep shuffling them around that is the problem.”

Individuals that say, “You own your own career.”

People that only try and put a positive spin on things.  “Some honesty would go a long way here.”

Any steering group.  “That’s all I need, another group giving me conflicting directions…”

Budgeting.  “I resent you asking me what I need, then cutting it by 34.8%.  It’s not ironic, it’s irritating.”

Anyone asking for my feedback and ignoring it.

Smoking areas that are the entrance to buildings where we non-smoker’s must wade through.

People who think Sharepoint is a solution to any problem.   “Sharepoint is the origin of many problems.”

People who ignore me when I say, “I wouldn’t do that shit if I were you…”

(This one is totally mine.)  People who critique my business writing.  I’m not perfect, but I’ve had a little bit more writing experience than you.

IFAC—Idiots from another company.  Consultants or brand new employees who brag about knowing a great deal on a subject, but have no idea how your organization works. This makes their expertise less-than-useful.

Anyone exposing leadership to a buzzword/acronym program.  Management is drawn to a buzzword program like vultures to dead possums. I still have scars from TQM in the 1990’s.

Anyone with unpredictable explosive temper.  “Seriously, that was the thing that set you off?”

Any implemented improvement that makes it ten times worse.

Coworkers that take up smoking to avoid spending time at work.

Performance review discussions where we are going to talk about my career.

A mandatory meeting that doesn’t have to be mandatory at all.

Required learning with a test at the end that no human could pass.   “Please pick the second least desirable or inaccurate response…”

People who are off sick, but posting images of themselves out having fun on Facebook.  “Gee, you don’t look feverish at the amusement park.”

Processes put in place just to make a team seem more important than they are.

Team leaders who attempt to apply Agile or Six Sigma principles on teams that have no idea what they are talking about. “No one cares about your black belt.  In fact, we may strangle you with it.  We have a plan…”

Individuals that trash the office bathroom.  “Seriously do you just throw paper on the floor at home?  And what you did to the toilet could only be described with the phrase, ‘war crime.’”

Any theme day in the cafeteria.  “I just want a hamburger for God’s sake.  I don’t care that it is Festival of Bolivian Afternoon Snacks Day.”

Rules that only seem to apply to me.

Requests for feedback from people I barely know.  “I don’t even remember you being on that project.  In fact, who are you?”

People that invite the entire world to every conference call.

Managers that think learning, all by itself, is a solution to a managerial issue (or lack of leadership).  “You presume that I am ignorant.  I am not.  I’m just ignoring you.  Big difference.”

Skype for Business.

When someone asks for my opinion then spends an hour trying to tell me that I am wrong to have that opinion.  “You lost me at the word ‘wrong’…”

Assigning me a task when I wasn’t even invited to the meeting.  “Really?  What if I say, ‘no’?”

Status reports for people who won’t or can’t read.

Contributing to any dashboard.

Namedroppers that think I care.  “You’ve mentioned Bob’s name three times.  I know who he is.  I’m not just impressed with your argument.”

When someone randomly insists on using video conferencing and I’m wearing my Captain America tee-shirt at home.  Honestly, I don’t even try and explain it anymore. One person asked me once, “what’s that you’re wearing?”  My response:  “My uniform.  I fight crime starting at 5pm.”

Any PowerPoint slide that uses more than five conflicting graphic elements or is so confusing that it disrupts space-time one foot from the computer where it is being shown.  “Go to the next slide – holy crap – you’re warping the space here in the conference room!”

Any solution involving, “throwing more bodies at it.”  “You can’t put nine pregnant women in the room and have a baby in a month.”

Not starting meetings on time.  “So, you don’t respect my time.”

Not ending meetings on time. “So, you don’t respect other people’s time too.  What a douche!”

Scheduling a meeting for something that could have been handled in a short email.

Forced volunteer work aimed at making your organization seen more hip.  “So, you want me to go and plant trees?  So mental and emotional punishment isn’t enough, you want the physical kind too?”

Any business trip through Newark International Airport.  “EWR’s Motto:  We top 3% on-time arrivals and departures most months of the year!”

When my manager refers to me as “evil.”  True story.  “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Team building activities after hours. “If it is so important we all get along, why not do it during work hours?”

Anyone asking for a deliverable that requires time travel.  “My time machine is for personal use, not because you can’t manage your project.”

Coworkers that, by default, assume everyone is more stupid than they are.  “That sir, is my job!”

Fear and speculation of layoffs, RIF’s, right-sizing, people being made redundant, etc.

Any project that has a misleading code-name.  Example:  Streak, Lightning Bolt, Fast & Furious, Slam Dunk.

Anytime the company seeks to “improve” the employee benefits.

People that show up late to the meetings and stop the gathering so that they can be brought up to speed.

When a new technology tool is implemented that really doesn’t solve a problem.

When everything at work is a high priority or “Priority One.”  “You do realize that when you do that, you’re not really setting priorities – right?”

Co-workers that text during meetings.  “Put the fuc*ing phone away.”

When management says one thing and does another.

Email message addressed to everyone that should be addressed to a handful people.

People whose entire job is to enforce pointless rules.

People who take meeting calls from Starbucks or Panera.  “Dude, I can hear the Barista in the background.”

Leaders who add requirements to a project three weeks before the unrealistic deadline.  “You are not being ironic, you’re being an ass.”

Any crisis that isn’t.  I learned how to identify real crisis’s early in my career.  Apparently I am on my own in that regard.

When routine technology fails.

When someone assumes a level of ignorance on my part that isn’t there.

Security overkill. “Why do I have to change my password every two weeks?”  “Why not?  Are you hiding something?”

When a leader tries to force a new technology on you because they think it’s trendy.

The annual performance review process.

When management sends out a message to save money by cutting travel costs – while they are at an out-of-the-country meeting.  “Clearly I am the problem…”

When I volunteer to do something and am told no.  “Why did you ask for volunteers in the first place?”

Managers who get survey results and spend hours tearing them apart attempting to invalidate them or convince me that a low number is actually a good thing.

The battery on any device.  “Crap – my Bluetooth just died.”

Weekend or late-night meetings.

Any meeting that kicks off with the person who called the meeting saying, “So why did I schedule this meeting?”

When that thing you have worked on for the last year of your life is cancelled three weeks before it was to be completed.

Anyone who says, “We don’t need to get the senior leaders on-board with this concept.”

When my routine business expense that I have submitted the same way a dozen times is rejected.  “This is Einstein’s definition of insanity.”

People who misuse the word “risk.”  “You keep using that word – I do not think it means what you think it means.”

When real life clashes with work life.  Technically it is when work attempts to override my real life.  “Oddly enough I do not live to work – I work to live.”  In my case, couple this with, “My life outside of this place is infinitely more interesting and entertaining than this cubicle-padded mental hospital.”

Leaders that make up facts.  “Our people are buried in surveys.”  “Um, we do two a year.  How exactly does that constitute buried?”

When the annual promotion list is put out.  Three letters and a question mark sum up my reaction to at least 20% of promotions…WTF?

When individuals misuse the word “strategy.”  “If you change it every six months, it isn’t strategic – it’s tactical.”

When someone ignores my expertise, experience, and skills because they perceive themselves as smarter.  “You don’t want to go there and force me to explain why you are less-intelligent or experienced as I am.”

The cancellation of meetings with no notice – even worse when they are at 7am or earlier.  “There is a special hell for you robbing me of 20 minutes of sleep.  It is dark, deep and filled with evil…”

The annual goal setting ritual.  “Light the candles and put on the robes…it’s time to make some stuff up.”

Watching someone else kiss butt with upper management.  “Why don’t you two get a room?”

People with no sense of humor.  If you made it this far, I think you qualify with having a sense of humor.

I’m sure you have some of your own – so add them to the comments list.  And don’t forget to purchase my book – Business Rules.  

My Secret Identity…

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“I am Ironman…”  Naa, but at times it kind of feels that way.

Many of you know this but for those that don’t – I do actually have a full-time job.  I am an Associate Director at Ernst & Young (EY) working in organizational change management.  At night and on weekends, I am an author.  In many respects, it’s a slightly schizophrenic lifestyle.  The Blaine Pardoe that works 45+ hours a week at one of the Big Four professional services firms is different from the Blaine Pardoe that is the New York Times Bestselling Author.

I’ve had people Google me and compare photos.  Seriously.  Trust me – I’m me.

The Blaine Pardoe that is the author does do his part fighting crime – writing about true crime cold cases.  That Blaine gets to go to sci-fi conventions and sign books and play games.  He has been a speaker at venues such as the US National Archives and even a few times at the US Naval Academy.  He has been mentioned on the floor of the US Congress for his military history books.  The author Blaine Pardoe does TV and radio interviews on his works.  Hollywood is looking into one of his books for a possible movie deal.  That Blaine Pardoe has reinvented himself many times in his writing career, exploring new genres.  The writer known as Blaine Pardoe is actually pretty cool.  His wife likes to compare him with Castle – profession-wise anyway (I apparently lack Nathan Fillion’s good looks.)

My day job allows me to have my secret identity.  Being a successful writer doesn’t necessarily come with bags of cash.  I’m still trying to crack that proverbial nut.  At my day job, I have a flexible work arrangement so I do work at home most of the time.  EY provides me the kind of work-life balance that allows me to huddle in my Fortress of Solitude/Batcave and go out at night and fight crime.  I respect that from my employer. That respect is paid with hard work and long hours (when necessary).

A few years ago I met an internal auditor who had the task of purchasing my books and reading them to make sure I didn’t misrepresent the firm.  That was two steps past awkward.  A part of me was mad, but then I realized that EY was buying my books – so the mercenary in my soul kicked in and the anger washed away.  Still, the thought of Big Brother watching me was creepy.  It was also pretty funny.  That was years ago though…I’m sure they aren’t still monitoring me…right?

In my writing-alter ego, no one ever really asks about my day job.  However in my day job, from time-to-time, people find out that I am also a writer and it comes up in conversation.  For example:  This week I was in a meeting in McLean and one of the first introductory questions that came up was, “What do you do outside of work?”  Nice icebreaker, but there’s no good way to dodge that kind of question.  As such, I always handle it awkwardly.  It’s like Bruce Wayne talking about Batman…you have to choose your wording really carefully.  I don’t deny that I’m the author, but it is sometimes a little strange discussing it with people out of context.  At work the typical topics are not very exciting…not true at all when you are researching and writing a book.

I’m also quite sure that being a successful author has hurt my career.  One senior leader told me once, “I just don’t see how you can be dedicating yourself 100% of the time to your job when you are off doing this stuff on the side.”  Ouch.  The implication was clear, I was somehow cheating my employer – that was his explanation for why I was a successful writer in the “real world.”  The fact that I have two careers wasn’t an accomplishment to him, it was a ding on my work ethic at the only job he chose to acknowledge.  Sadly, over the years, he’s not the only person to cast dispersion’s about how I manage my time.  They seem to ignore how I consume my vacation time to do book tours or conduct interviews. I am sure (though unproven) that behind closed doors, this aspect of my life has held me up from promotions or other opportunities.

You would think they’d make me a poster-child for flexible work arrangements.  Instead I’m a suspect in crimes that are unspoken or unknown.  I accept that my having a life outside of work is a CLM (Career Limiting Move). I don’t like it – but it is a small price to pay.

Whispers of “He must be hiding something…” nag me at times.  But the answer is simple.

I am hiding something.  My not-so-secret identity douchebags.

The War on Employee Loyalty

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Beware the Corporate Overlords are watching!

Labor Day seems appropriate for my latest observation about corporate culture.  The Corporate Overlords, the mysterious demigod (in their mind) leaders have been fighting a titanic global war in the last few years – one that has hit thousands of organizations.  This is a comprehensive all-out war on employee loyalty.  This undeclared war, while somewhat unintended, is still being waged and will have long-term implications on the workforce, productivity, and the very survival of some organizations.

At a time when businesses increasingly demand more from their people, they actively take steps to drive them away.  Organizations expect long working hours, demand their staff stay connected 24×7 (even on their private mobile devices), and set output expectations that often require extended working hours and weekends just to tread water.  The war on employee loyalty would be comical if it wasn’t so funny.

Loyalty is a fickle thing.  In this context it is the commitment of the employee to the organization.  That can reflect itself in several ways; an employee’s willingness to work more hours, their ability to handle more workload, a desire by the employee to provide exceptional service or quality, the drive to do better, etc.  At its most basic level, it can be defined as employees simply remaining at the organization.  Above and beyond that, it is the employees taking extra measure, working harder or longer, or exercising exceptional effort to improve quality, productivity, and workplace culture.  These are all things that any leader or organization should value.  It’s all about commitment.

You would think organizations would place a value on loyalty…that there would be Directors of Loyalty or Loyalty Czars (or my suggestion “Lord of Loyalty.”)  You would also be delusional.  While organizations want (or outright demand) loyalty, they believe it should be unconditional.  In other words you have it and the company doesn’t want to invest in getting it. It’s as if your paycheck alone should garner your unswerving and undying support…as mere thanks for the opportunity to perform above-and-beyond.

Just typing this last sentence I threw up a little in the back of my mouth – no joke folks.

One reason that many organizations don’t place any importance on employee loyalty is they cannot tangibly measure it or its benefits.  It’s a lame excuse at best.  Oh sure, you can look at staff turnover rates, but most managers scoff at such numbers with the whine, “well, that’s not uncommon for our industry.”  This leads to employee satisfaction surveys.  These surveys don’t directly reflect the bottom-line profits, so leaders feel free to disregard the findings of such surveys.  The mentality is “if I can’t measure it, it must not be important.”  Even more entertaining is when results of such surveys are presented, leadership can twist the results to fit their own agenda.  “Oh, they rated us low there because they were confused by the question?” or “That only was rated low because the week before the survey we did X.”  Rather than own the results, leadership blames the results on the suspected ignorance of their staff.  Winning!

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Survey results obviously are the staff’s fault…

There is also the misguided belief that an employee’s level of satisfaction/loyalty is their problem. “I can’t make my people more loyal or happy,” is the war-cry of the insipid and incompetent leader.  That is true. At the same time what leaders can do is create an environment where employees have the opportunity to be satisfied – thus generating loyalty.  To take the stand of, “there’s nothing I can do,” is a cop-out.

Another factor that comes into play is an assumption that staff are content and thus loyal.  Complacency and organizational “quiet” is considered by leadership as the byproduct of a happy and loyal workforce.  In reality, some organizations have little employee noise and friction because the free will and souls of the employees have already been crushed.  Those that speak out are often publicly punished.  Teams that stagnate or show signs of resistance are reorganized, merged, or disbanded.  Leadership takes on a Michael Vick role with the employees being their dogs.

Also chiseling away at loyalty is easy when you take away personal space in an office, going to free-roaming office space or open office spaces.  People used to have a place at work, even if it was a mauve burlap padded cubicle.  Companies have opted to strip that away with hotelling of office space to save real-estate costs.

Employees struggle to build meaningful relationships with each other as well. With more workers being virtual, their physical ties to their organization or their colleagues are stretched thin.  You can work with someone for years and never meet them face-to-face.  Same with your leaders.  Virtual teams need to connect physically from time-to-time to help establish stronger interpersonal relationships.  Many companies have deliberately assumed that because people are working virtually that they don’t need to get together live occasionally.

Another factor chipping away at employee loyalty is the abundant use of antiquated performance review systems/approaches.  The majority of organizations still rely on performance review systems dating back to the 1980’s.  These backwards looking systems based on numeric ratings, bell curves, and often spotty feedback are more of an administrative burden than performance growth process.  Many organizations have tried to divorce salary increases from performance discussions, despite the fact they are intertwined.  For experienced employees, performance reviews have become more of an ordeal than a true chance to talk about careers.

The sourcing of labor; or rather that out-sourcing of labor, also contributes to a dip in employee loyalty.  With organizations seeking low-cost labor solutions, employees can often feel their jobs are constantly at risk.  Some companies generate a culture where segments of their staff are forced to deal with the threat of outsourcing as a daily occurrence.  While this career-equivalent of the Sword of Damocles hangs over their head, ready to sever it from their bodies, they are expected to work longer hours and be more committed to the organization that is threatening them.

Technology also plays a role.  Companies, attempting to curb costs, have flirted with BYOD – bring your own device.  So now the company expects you to bring your own computer or pad rather than provide you one.  They invade employees phones with apps that the employee doesn’t want, but is required for work.  The icing on the cake is that they set rules and policies about the use of your own personal mobile device because they require you to use it to connect to work.  Imagine your organization telling you what features you had to have on your private car simply because you use it to go to work.  That is exactly what is happening in many organizations when it comes to the mobile device you bought and paid for.

One might argue that this is not a war against employee loyalty…that these are merely cases of unintended consequences.  Oops – did we jump up and down on your loyalty – our bad! I understand that and I’m not implying that leaders are huddle off somewhere plotting to take down morale by coordinating these various initiatives and directions.  Let’s be honest, most leaders aren’t capable of this level of coordination or even devious thinking (wink).

Milton
You’re talking about my office – aren’t you?  How did you know? 

My counter to that is that all of these are based on leadership decisions; right, wrong or moronic.  The fact that leadership did not factor in the impacts on employee loyalty, or that they simply don’t care, essentially places the blame at the top levels of organizations. All of these strategies and impacts were chosen directions on the part of upper management.  They simply did not care about the impact on employee loyalty – or worse, presumed that the staff were so enamored with their leadership that it didn’t matter.

Uh oh, I threw up a little bit in the back of my mouth again.

Some organizations deal with poor loyalty as if it were a cancer to be cut out.  Their solution is to drive out the long-term employees and replace them with new staff from the outside.  Rather than cure the problem, they opt for amputation and limb replacement.  In such organizations staff is a commodity that one purchases like office supplies.  Ironically, the result is more reduced loyalty (duh!).

Where can workers turn to mount a defense in the war on loyalty?  If they are US workers – nowhere.  Many HR departments over the year have been effectively neutered; reduced to the role of mitigating lawsuits rather than defending the staff from the mindless onslaughts of senior leadership.  The war against loyalty is a lonely one, fought in stark mauve-colored cubicles under bland florescent lights and in dreary battered conference rooms in glass-windowed hells all across the globe.

I fully understand that companies have to manage costs and address shareholders profit worries, blah, blah, blah.  At the same time leadership has to look at the impacts on its workforce of strategic decisions and plays some weight and value on their people.  Loyalty is a precious commodity.  Without it you have less commitment – a feeling that individual contributions are unappreciated or disrespected.  Whittling away at employee loyalty destabilizes the staff and kills productivity – and even causes them to begin to question the legitimacy of their leaders Sacrilege!  You kick morale hard enough and you get staff that won’t spring in the air the next time you yell, “jump.”  They will simply glare at you with a glazed expression of remorse, emptiness, and only having fond memories of why they used to care about their jobs in the first place.

The war is being waged out there…and many of us were drafted without even our knowledge. To you, out there in the trenches, all I can say is you are not alone!  I’m not with you – my company is great – but I hear your cries from the trenches.  Soldier on!

For more on my twisted views of the workplace, check out my books – Business Rules and Cubicle Warfare.

You don’t really own your own career…duh…

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Warning – this is one of my corporate culture rants so strap yourself in and prepare for the ride.

“You own your own career.”  This has become the mantra of many organizations – shifting the blame for their lack of leadership/sponsorship and support of their staff to the employee.  The line is classic management double-speak.  What they really are saying is, “if things don’t work out the way you want…well…that’s all on you.”  It is a big jumbo-honking Corporate Overlord lie, aimed at shifting responsibility away from those in charge and focusing the blame for career failures on the victims themselves.

When I hear the often muttered phrase about owning my own career, I usually respond, “Bullshit.” (Usually in my head, but sometimes out loud.)

Unless you’re talking to an entrepreneur or someone self-employed, a person’s career is always the result of cultivating the right relationships of individuals who helps sponsor them; who finds opportunities for them and makes those promotional opportunities available.  Ironically for many “successful” people, now they are in charge, they believe it is the responsibility of the employee to manage, handle, cope, and grow their own career.  The rub here is:  “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”

Back in the day – your manager was rightfully responsible for your career advancement.  That didn’t mean they automatically promoted you – but they had an obligation to coach you, position you for new roles and opportunities, and to help you prepare for advancement.  They took you under their wing.  They taught you the ropes – told you what you needed to do to get ahead.  Today it’s called, “mentoring” but it used to be, “being a good manager.”  When they heard about advancement opportunities, they tossed your name in the hat and fought for you.  You, as the employee, had the obligation of undertaking the changes necessary to make you palatable for promotion and growth.  This system had flaws but it worked. You still had bad managers – but they were responsible for their people.

The old manager/employee relationship model has deteriorated because managers/leaders often job hop so often that you don’t have that kind of legacy in an organization.   On top of that, such managers are deliberately instructed to not get involved in employees careers.  The push, starting 15 years or so ago, “make this the employee’s problem – not yours.”  Managers were all over that idea as if it was leadership-crack to them.

Then in the late 1990’s some asshat came up with the idea of “Let’s make this all the responsibility of the employee.”  At the same time they did nothing to actually empower the employees to be able to fill those gaps that the managers were now abdicating.  Managers latched onto this because it was less work for them.  It removed burdensome responsibility and made it so they didn’t have to have those difficult coaching conversations.

It sucked – but the people in charge loved it.  They were already in positions of power in their careers.

If I sound bitter, well, I am.  I have earned that right and I don’t believe I’m alone.  The reality in almost every organization is that senior leaders have choice or favored employees that they ensure get to the best opportunities and are advanced.  The introduction of the “philosophy” that we own our own careers didn’t alter that in the least.  So while leadership is able to absolve themselves of their guilt in this process by blaming the employees for their career failings, they still maintain their old “good old boy” approach to taking care of their favored children.  This is not about any one organization – this is a problem that is systemic in US business culture.

I say again, “Bullshit.”

That’s not to say there aren’t things I am responsible for in my career bucket.  I am personally accountable for:

  • The quality and timeliness of my work product.
  • My interpersonal interactions and professional relationships with others.
  • I am responsible for finding new and exciting roles and applying for them.

The reality of owning your own career when you work for someone else is, at best, an illusion.  We have all seen it before…the people that are just hired in many levels above you that can’t find their collective asses with a flashlight and both hands.  We’ve seen people promoted who, on some level, should be institutionalized (mental or other – your choice.)  We get the list of annual promotions and there is an audible groan in the organization as we see individuals who have advanced past us who we feel shouldn’t have.  (I often look at that list with the questions, “Who ties your shoes?  How do you find the office on a daily basis?  Wow…ass-kissing apparently does work still!)

How does this happen?  Well, it’s because there are massive parts of your career you don’t own.  Your leaders hold the reins on your career much more than they will ever admit.  They have a role in advocating your advancement — spotting those insider opportunities that would be a good match for your skills. Your advancement is hindered by others in the upper strata of the corporate foodchain because:

  • If you move ahead, it creates gap in the current organization that may be difficult to fill.  Let’s face it, your experience and understanding of your organization’s inner workings may not be easy to come by. Your current manager has a pretty solid incentive to keep you right where you are because recruiting your replacement is painful.
  • Your leader really has no idea about your background, strengths, skills, and qualities. As such, they have no idea how to queue you up for new jobs.   How many times, if ever, as your manager reviewed your resume’?  Zero?
  • You have been labeled – tagged rightfully or wrongfully, as someone that should not be advanced.  (Often times you have never been told this…but it is true.)  This is akin to being accused of a crime, having it on your record, but never having been told about the incident or given a chance to defend yourself.  It is like a black-balling scenario when joining a fraternity or sorority…someone drops a black ball and you are invited to leave.
  • The leadership team feels your personality is inconsistent with their stereotyping of what leaders should be like.   Rather than introduce diversity in the leadership-clique, they seek individuals who are like themselves – people that won’t rock the proverbial boat.  Sometimes this is as limiting as someone only advancing people based on them working at a particular company or with specific experience in an industry.  This is a twisted form of career profiling aimed at keeping you right where you are on the org chart.
  • Your career is simply not important to someone in authority.  The demands on managers have increased exponentially in the last decade to the point where this is something they simply don’t have time to engage on.  Frankly It only comes up once or twice a year for the review process, and even then that is more of an administrative exercise than one aimed at actually growing the leaders of tomorrow.

Technically speaking the issue of career management is often institutionally flawed because of the performance management processes.  Many leaders focus more on past performance rather than on future growth and advancement.  The review processes in many organizations emphasizes rating what you’ve done in the past and providing feedback on past-performance rather than talking about “what are we doing to advance Bob to the next level?”  When the topic is forced, leadership concentrates on what the barriers are for advancement rather than putting forward a plan to move the employee upward.

Often time’s managers have asked myself and my colleagues to “put together a plan for getting yourself promoted.”  What a riot.  Seriously?  First off; I seriously doubt I have that kind of power.  If I did, I assure you, I would have misused it years ago and would be CIO, CEO, or C-something.  With that kind of thinking, I’d be Emperor of the Earth.  I mean geez, that’s all I needed was a plan?  I’d be all over that plan in a second if there was any validity to that thinking.  Second; whatever I might put in such a plan is subject to the random and sometimes schizophrenic intervention by other leaders that it is a pointless gesture to document it.  Example:  I need to have experience X to move to my next job.  Next year, I want that experience.  “Oh, sorry buddy, but I gave Judy that project.”   BUT I HAD A PLAN!    Third; chances are your manager doesn’t have any more control over their career than you do. “Hey, your plan looks good.  Mind if I copy it?”

There’s also the obvious conflict in play with owning your own career.  Let’s say your next logical career step is to assume your manager’s job.  Let’s face it, you probably do it better than him/her anyway, but I digress.  So you put that in your plan.  Now how do you think your manager is going to react to that?  What if they don’t want to change roles?  Suddenly you’re competing with them and they know it.  What if they can’t get their next promotion or job change?  What if they have already decided that one of your co-workers (usually the moron – you know who I’m talking about) will succeed them.  Hmm, talk about an awkward conversation.  Also, as I stated before, they may be mired down career-wise just like you.  So owning your own career and having a freaking plan is, well, a waste of time and effort.

Here’s your dose of reality:  In many cases owning your own career, in reality, means knowing when you’re fed up enough to quit and go and get another job.

As a sidebar; the only career I do own is that of my career as an author.  Even there, I am challenged with things I cannot control, like internet trolls, faceless critics and self-proclaimed experts, and people who took English 101 in college some 22 years ago and believe they are editors to the world.  The feeling of more control is that I don’t have to answer to anyone other than myself.  I pick the projects I choose to work on, I put the words down (sometimes in the right order), I am accountable for my own marketing.  It is the only job that I have where I feel even partially in control of what is going to happen next, and that’s because I am not accountable to anyone else.  There is no boss – just me.  In this career, which I’m doing fine in, I only have myself to blame or acknowledge when it comes to my career successes.

Note:  Readers of my book, Business Rules, know that I really don’t subscribe to the concept of a “career” anyway.  It’s a concept you use to rationalize the jobs you have.  Ultimately what you have are jobs.  Some jobs pay more than others, some have actual power attached to them.