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

Annual Performance Reviews – A Snarky Fix to an Age-Old Problem

Over-preparing for an annual review…

Note: None of this is related to my current employer where everything is sunshine, roses, rainbows, Prozac, and unicorns.   I’m just offering perspective about organizations as a whole and my disdain for annual performance reviews in general.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

To say I loathe the annual performance review process used by most organizations would be a gross understatement.  Personally, I don’t like to talk about my career choices or reflect on my last year, even if that year was outstanding. My “career” (and I use that word loosely) is my business.  I have an Evil Plan and I’m not inclined to share it. Last year I critiqued the infamous bell curve The Dreaded Performance Review Season

Reviews have a sense of hopelessness about them.  They force you to take stock of the last 12 months and to obtain feedback on the last four weeks (which is usually the basis of the core of your rating).  In some organizations reviews are a burdensome administrative task that can fail to accomplish the intended goal of improving performance.  Instead they become exercises in statistic mathematics (fitting people to a bell curve) and focusing on the three things that an employee did wrong in a year, rather than the 300 things they did well.  I have yet to emerge from a review energized, inspired, and enthusiastic – and I get good ratings over the years.


So I started thinking about ways to make the process go by faster.  (Hey, if it can’t be motivating, at least we can get it over with – right?)  I thought a multiple choice/survey format that the employee could check off would expedite things in the discussion.  Now, I’m still tweaking this prototype – but I thought you’d enjoy my current working copy.  Feel free to share.


Annual Review Multiple Choice


Where do you see yourself in five years?

___Prison – for that whole, “Lone sniper on the roof of his place of employment” incident I’ve been covertly planning.

___Getting my hands on some fissionable material to finish a DYI project I have going in my basement.

___Wearing a “special” white coat with long sleeves that lace together in the back.

___Kicking back and retired on the income from my Nigerian Prince scam.

___Still waiting for Skype to connect my call from earlier today.

___Waiting in line for Star Wars XVI – The Last Sith

___Still searching for my long lost marbles.

___Trying to explain to my family why I wasn’t with them because I needed this job to pay the damned bills.

___In a shack in the forest, writing that manifesto I have been meaning to get to.

___In line at CVS to up my antidepressants.

___I see myself in a room, doing an annual review, making up another bullshit answer so that I can end this ordeal.


What are your career goals?

___Making sure someone else is framed for the crime or at least the guilty parties are identified.

___I’d like to be CEO.  Can you help make that happen?  If not, leave me alone.

___I’d settle for some cheesy title if you can’t actually promote me.  I’m quite fond of the title “Emperor” but you can call me ‘Sire.”

___To make the voices in my head go away or at least get down to a reasonable number.

___Four words:  Hand of the King.

___What is this “career” thing you are referring to?

___I am counting on the lottery or getting my own reality TV series about a guy working in a dysfunctional office.

___I don’t suppose “survival” is an option?  If so, I choose it.


How well do you work with your peers/colleagues?

___The fact they are still alive should tell you something.

___I like them.  When we are on a call together they make me look like the smartest person in the meeting.

___I strongly believe at least one of them will be featured on the news with one of their neighbors saying, “He was quiet – a loner…he seemed normal to me.”

___They are the best trained group of clowns to ever emerge from the same tiny car.

___Most seem stressed – but then again, underachievers usually are.

___Without them you wouldn’t need me.  (Think about it – you’ll eventually get it)

___I think enough of them to secretly post their resume’s on several leading job recruitment sites.


What do you think of your teammates?

___You will never meet a finer group of team members – outside of a prison basketball court.

___Great group of people…the kind you of team you see in Goodfellas or The Godfather.

___They can be counted on – for lunch and for making most of my meetings pointless.

___We are unified and cohesive on one thing, a common enemy, our manager. Oops!  Awkward…

___They can be consistently relied upon, to shuffle their workload to me.

___You will not meet a finer group of people outside of a chain gang.

___What I think my teammates says less about them and more about you and your interviewing standards and approaches.

___I hope at least two of them marry Cersi Lannister.


What kind of experiences can we give you to help your stretch and advance your career aspirations?

___Put my on a project that was not hopelessly doomed, horribly sponsored, technically impossible, or led by an escaped lunatic.

___How about putting me in charge of the whole shooting match?  I figure it will take three weeks…four tops, to straighten this all out.

___Please stop trying to help me by giving me more work.  If you stretch me more, I may snap.

___Something that is near completion, competently run, that I can claim credit for “leading.”

___I’ve been working with all of the responsibility and none of the power – how about we flip that for next year?

___Preferably something that requires travel to Hawaii, Europe, of Polynesia.

___I have been a patient in this asylum long enough, I’d like to be a guard for a while.

___None.  I just watch you as my manager and mentally note to do the opposite of what you do.


How do you feel about the feedback you received this year from your peers?

___I got feedback?  I thought we were still on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?”

___Apparently the bribe money was well spent.

___I’m sorry, we were supposed to read that before the review session?  I assure you I give that feedback all of the attention it is due.

___It is good to know that the people that gave me feedback are taking medication and drinking still.

___Those negative comments are totally deserved.  I was being a dick and want to assure you I will be a dick again in the future.

___There would have been more positive feedback if the system had allowed people to submit what they wrote in crayon.

___My response to the feedback begins with, “Those assholes started it!”  It goes downhill from there.

___I think the constructive (negative) feedback I received was because those people couldn’t find their ass with a flashlight and both hands.

___I am ashamed that these people who gave me feedback have that kind of time on their hands.  Makes you wonder about them, doesn’t it?


What kind of learning should we put in your annual plan?

___I was thinking of taking the Web Based Learning course, “Giving a damn – you can do it!”

___I don’t suppose I can convince you that basket-weaving is related to my job?

___Why bother, you will never give me the time to attend the course anyway?

___I believe a course in advanced cursing would be in order.

___I’ve tracked down an industry tradeshow for a week in Vegas.  Send me and I promise to make an effort to attend one of the sessions.

___Using Advanced PowerPoint Techniques, Graphics and Animations to Bedazzle Leaders 101

___Is there anything we have on substance abuse – a “how-to” kind of class?

___Really?  You’re going to give me the time to go to learning or the money to travel to it?  Don’t make me laugh.

___I don’t know – what did you take to get your job?  I’m sure only a short course will suffice to fill that gap.


What could you have done to have been more successful last year?

___”More successful?”  It sounds like you aren’t thankful for what you got there buddy.  You might want to work on that.

___Less leadership “support” and more common sense would have helped.

___While a bonus will not make me more successful, it can’t hurt matters.

___Suppressed my sense of humor and my snarky remarks during meetings.

___How about the ability to pick and choose the work I am assigned?

___I could have constructed a functional time machine to reverse your bad decisions.

___I have everything I need to be successful, at another company.  Thanks.


What can I do to make your job easier?

___Nothing.  Just keep those checks coming.

___Please, sweet Jesus, stop trying to help me.

___A limit of three random/psychotic changes of direction per month would be great.


___Have you considered an extended vacation or taking a sabbatical? I recommend it.

___I have a list of people who need to “disappear,” if you catch my drift.  (Wink, wink)

___You can stop assigning me the workload of three full time staff.

___Before you make up deadlines, could you please purchase a calendar?

___Please have your boss remove their head from their ass.


What kind of feedback to you have for me as your manager?

___Keep on going – oblivious seems to work for you as well as me.

___I am impressed with you – well, that you find the office daily.  That I’m impressed with.

___What you don’t know won’t hurt you.

___Whatever you do, don’t look in the box under my desk.

___It’s adorable that you pretend to care.

___I don’t supposed you’d be willing to take a job with our competitors?

___You are PURE.  A Previously Undetected Recruiting Error.

___You don’t have stress but you ARE a carrier.

___I’m sorry, do I work for you?

___Like you care…


I think my multiple-choice approach streamlines the process – don’t you agree?

Hey, I wrote a pretty good book on cynicism at the office – Business Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords  It is chocked full of bitterness about work…and extra vitamin goodness.

Office Humor – Funny Job Titles

The Corporate Overlords are watching…

I’m involved with a fantastic little startup game and publishing company.  We started talking about job titles and I said I’d take a look at compiling some humorous ones that reflected our roles.  I figured it was worth sharing since some of these are pretty funny.

Thinker of Deep Thoughts

Chief Visionary (aka Chief Vision Officer)

Brand Warrior

Chief Amazement Officer

Artistic Ninja

Organizer of Random Thoughts and Erratic Activity

Maestro of Mayhem

Timeline Overlord

The Voice of Reason

Chief of Prophesy Fulfillment

Chief Idea Ambassador

Lord god Genius in Charge

Digital Sorcery/Sorceress

Chief Concept Exorcist

Director of Astonishment

Digital Experience Director

Ringleader of Creative Operations

Abstract Concepts Coordinator

Master Universe Builder

Chief of Time Travel Operations

Entertainment Seer

Director of Entertainment Fulfillment

On-Demand Adult Officer

Alien and Technical Design Champion

Chief Agitation Officer

Head Unicorn Wrangler

Ambassador of Buzz

Chief Trouble Maker

Prophet of Events That Will Never Happen

Director of Idealism

Generalissimo of Nonexistent Future Military Forces

Director of World Creation

Chief Awesome Officer

Director of Dream Fulfillment

Head Word Wrangler

Chief Wonder Delivery Agent

Director of Awe-Inspiring Feats

Oracle of Inspiration

Coffee Guy

Chief Creativity Evangelist

Chief Catalyst Agent

Chief Scoundrel

Chief Security Stormtrooper

Director of Underdog Concepts

Warlord of Ingenuity

Director of Adventure Management Operations

Social Media Sorcerer/Sorceress

Concept Alchemist

Idea Jedi

Czar of Creativity

Master of Underling Staff

Director of Everything Starting With the Letter E

Self-Designated Adult In-Charge

Director of Initiative

Chief Idea Smuggler

Director of Synergistic Creativity

Space/Time Specialist

Concept Wrangler

Ink Magician

Sith Lord of Security

Director of Office Supplies and Beverage Distribution

Head Office Rogue

The Money Guy/Gal

Dispeller of Myths and Bad Ideas

Director of Brainstorming Operations

Ringleader of Genius Concepts

The Head Game Guy

Mastermind of Mischief

Now, I just need to pick the right one for my business cards…

Real World Lines for Your Resume’ (office humor)

EyesI recently updated my resume’ for what seems like the hundredth time and as I was doing it my snarkiness took over.  I started wondering, “What if people updated their resume’s with the actual skills, experiences, and work they do?” So I started jotting them down and after a few weeks, I came up with a list that made me laugh – and I hope you’ll enjoy it too.  Of course, none of these apply to my current employer…because that would be both wrong and ignorant.

So here’s the list of lines for your resume’ reflecting the real world…feel free to use them as you see fit:

  • Active target of management amusement/abuse yet oddly productive.
  • Demonstrated creative solution creation on teams that collectively couldn’t master tic-tac-toe.
  • Able to dodge multiple attempts to compromise integrity.
  • Strategic influencer of weaker minds and souls.
  • Gifted with ability to detect and point out bullshit.
  • Successfully debated managerial incompetence with senior leaders (with charts and examples) without them knowing it.
  • Objective perspective regarding hopelessly fouled up projects.
  • Possessor of the burial locations of the bodies of the victims of the Corporate Overlords.
  • Developed a system for liquidating and stockpiling strategic office supplies from a locked supply cabinet.
  • Served as “the voice of reason” in the technological equivalent of a lunatic asylum.
  • Artfully dodged responsibilities that would have further imperiled my career opportunities.
  • Successfully led department snarkiness and sarcasm team to the semi-finals three years running.
  • Altered my perception of the phrase “world class” to reflect more of a real-world understanding.
  • Found new ways to entrench my antiquated ideals of employee motivations.
  • Deflected mental abuse levelled for being right while those about me were not.
  • Successfully led a massive reorganization effort on a team that was never organized in the first place (which, when you think of it, is remarkable).
  • Maintained a strong social media presence despite oppressive first amendment defying censorship policies. (makes me sound like a patriot, don’t ya think?)
  • Actively suppressed the use of sound effects to augment my discussions with senior leadership.
  • Did not attempt to assassinate a former abusive manager for over 1427 consecutive days!
  • Reorganized the voices in my head so they are more in sync and consistent.
  • Demonstrated the ability to not lose my focus despite the fact that my career is in flames and spiraling to the Earth at breakneck speeds.
  • Identified by leadership as the “go-to” person when they duplicate the mistakes of past leadership teams.
  • Realigned my values to a lower level to be in line with the incompetents that dare to call themselves my peers.
  • Converted my work-related rage into a series of memes involving coworkers, farm animals, and the kama sutra.
  • Consistently showed up at work despite the urge to seek professional mental help.
  • Despite the odds, was able to find humor in the misery and suffering of inferior colleagues.
  • Led significant IT organization effort to file or delete the 243 messages in my inbox.
  • Avoided abusing the video conferencing capability despite strong urges to do otherwise.
  • Reworded successive leadership communications so that the manager in question did not come across as a third world dictator, (and not a word of thanks in return).
  • Developed algorithm for calculating the number of minutes until my retirement/parole.
  • Spent two days annually taking learning that was mandatory but had no bearing on my work or lifestyle choices.
  • Developed creative alternatives to the dress code. (I purchased a straightjacket for use on video conference calls, referring to it as “my afternoon sport coat.”)
  • Successfully deployed an attitude of complete ambivalence to my career which went almost entirely undetected.
  • Mimicked attentiveness when leadership forced attendance to Town Hall meetings.
  • Devised complex project plan for dismantling, shipping, and reassembly of an Aeron chair from our office undetected.
  • Created alternatives to the use of the phrases/words, “Flip-flop,” “managerial incompetence,” or “waffling” in regards to leadership announcements/decisions.
  • Willing to sell out everything but my values in order to survive.
  • I am freewill flexible!  You tell me my opinion and that is what I also believe, until you leave the room.
  • Skilled at changing direction, sometimes hourly, in support of leadership whims.
  • I am a dedicated worker – I had soul crushed and served as croutons in the cafeteria years ago.
  • Assumed full responsibility for the bad career choices I’ve made in the last two years despite complete innocence on my part.
  • Significantly increased my personal productivity by forgetting my Facebook password.
  • Began executive documentation effort regarding decisions, directions, and priority setting…code name “War Crimes”
  • Solid foundation for HR policies as they relate to workplace abuse (mostly experienced-based).
  • Devised sophisticated system to update my availability status in Skype with phrases that confuse the weak, timid, or leadership.
  • Adjusted the virtual target on my back so as to make me more difficult to hit.
  • Established new levels of evaluation and critique in regards to apparent random changes in direction by management.
  • Conduit for bad decisions and horrific communications.
  • Convinced myself that I was better off doing what I was doing rather than doing something that would attract too much attention.
  • Regularly demonstrate knowledge sharing principles when repurposing the work of others into my PowerPoint presentations.
  • I team well with those I deem worthy.
  • Established an informal communications network to augment the lack of formal communications by those in charge.
  • Possesses the ability to distinguish the level, depth, and potency of bullshit when presented in a PowerPoint format.
  • Maintains ethics and values throughout mental incarceration.
  • Misdirected inappropriate levels of abuse to other parts of the organization so as to spread the workload of abuse reconciliation.
  • Preserved the illusion of managerial leadership by suppressing the urge to point out how our leaders have been economical with the truth.
  • I possess an innate sense of where “the line” is and straddle it often to the discomfort of others.
  • Executed a prioritization schema in lieu of leadership making up their minds and doing it themselves.
  • Instituted health program aimed at increasing the blood pressure of my immediate manager.
  • Expert at sheltering management’s egos from the impact of their less-than-perfect decisions.
  • I have been successfully pointing out the painfully obvious for the length of my career.
  • Demonstrated ability to locate and attract flawed characters that might otherwise cause havoc in other parts of the organization.  (I believe a thank you is in order.)
  • Ability to form semi-functional teams from quasi-dysfunctional individuals with competing egos, agendas, and directions from management.
  • Able to see the morale uplifting humor in the shortcomings of others.
  • Able to incorporate often conflicting priorities into an otherwise dead-end career path.
  • I possess a healthy and natural distrust of PowerPoint as a communications channel.  I even have a deck that proves this.
  • Possessing a disproportionate amount of business sense in comparison to those that use the word “peer” in describing our working relationships.
  • Communications skills – able to interpret messages from leadership into things that are both directional and entertaining.
  • I have banked up karma enough to offset almost anything short of waging war.
  • Raised the bar on creative witticism and insightful (often entertaining/humorous) observations into the operational workflow of the organization.
  • I demonstrate marked self-control given the daily if not hourly challenges to my career, sanity, and well-being.
  • Actively assisted in shifting the misplaced blame for several outages towards the designated scapegoats, thus increasing morale of the guilty parties.
  • Equipped with ability to suppress the urge to introduce reality into discussions and embrace the nuance of random blame assignment.
  • Retention and application of the history of the organization into current events, where applicable.  Example:  “This is exactly like the last time you threw me under the bus.”
  • Demonstrated extreme tolerance with individuals who are distracted easily by shiny objects.
  • I have been consistently proven correct on a number of flaws (and flawed individuals), despite the personal displeasure it brought me.
  • I have a detailed comprehension of the stakeholders that control every aspect of my career, yet have a stunning and surprising lack of influence on their activities.
  • Teaming skills – providing the staff with insightful often ironic comedic insights into topical issues and management communications.
  • Willing to risk my career to propagate morale boosting messages…like this list!

If you enjoyed this, pick up my book, Business Rules. #corporateoverlords

Workplace Bullies


A part of me is a little embarrassed to post this.  I realized however that there are probably others like me that have been treated horribly at work.  It’s rarely physical – but a form of psychological warfare that ignorant, weak-minded managers use to intimidate others in the name of achieving their goals.

I used to believe that workplace bullying was mythical, the product of overly sensitive individuals attempting to file lawsuits to profit from their employers.  Then it happened to me.  I admit, it took me a while to define what was happening.  I had been bullied as a kid but to experience it as an adult was something entirely different.  When I was a kid the bullies were more defined, more blatant.  In the workplace it is more of an issue of abusive torment.

My abuser was female, which made it all the more emasculating at the time.  Having only been bullied by males in my life it never dawned on me that a female might exhibit such behavior.  (In fairness, I only assume she was a female – it was hard after a while to think of her that way, let alone human.)

This contemptible harpy-from-the-infernal reaches didn’t just mess with me, she unleashed a never-ending barrage of abuse and degradation on most of the members of her team.  Demeaning others was her drug of choice and she was more addicted than any Meth dealer ever was.  She threatened me, my job, my co-workers, and in turn, my family and career.  She did it for grins…I think she wallowed in others anguish.  Her sick, twisted mind-games filled my days and destroyed my sleep.  This satanic-demonspawn-summoned-from-the-Ninth-Plane-of-Hell reveled in my misery and sought to make me want to leave my job so that she could simply bring aboard one of her faceless/spineless minions.

I know, you think I’m exaggerating or joking around; I’m not.  On almost every level conceivable, this individual personified and embodied Workplace Evil.  She was not just abusive, she was sinister and threatening.  That was how she “motivated” her team.  She was like a female Lex Luthor and Loki rolled together.  This witch tried to play off people who had worked together for years, just for grins.  Her depth of psychological warfare made water-boarding appear benign as a stroll in the park.  Our counterterrorism folks could learn a great deal from her as a case study.

Her place in the corporate food chain was all that mattered.  Position, power, dominance, authority…these were what she fed upon and drove her actions.  The depth of her deformed insecurities boggles my mind.  She didn’t see people in shades of gray, only black and white.  You were either a pawn for her to use, or were a target for her to minimize or eliminate.  I have no doubt that she kept a list of people with little coded check-marks next to the names.    Like Richard Nixon, I’m sure she maintained an enemies list and I am sure I was pretty high up on it.

I have had a career (outside of my writing) and I’m proud of.  I have done some remarkable things and met some fantastic leaders along the way.  In the months we worked together she shattered (and stomped on) my confidence and belief in myself out of the pure thrill of the cruelty she inflicted.  The CIA should have used this crazy witch as a means of torturing others at GITMO.

As you may have guessed, she’s left me with some pretty deep emotional scars.

There were physical problems too.  I broke out in pimples for the first time in decades.  I got hives for no reason.  Sleep?  Forget that.   I tossed and turned for months.  I started working longer hours, on weekends, foolishly thinking that would help.  This hell-spawned succubus ripped my life apart.

Friends and colleagues told me to go and get another job and I did go on a few interviews.  Ultimately I hated that.  Why should I leave a place I have worked for decades at; a place where I have great friends and have accomplished many things I’m proud of?  Why should I screw up my retirement and alter my career for someone I loathed?  I hadn’t done a damned thing wrong.  Why should I do what she wants me to do?  I refused to walk away because that’s exactly what she wanted.  Her lust for power over me would have been complete.  No – this was going to be a bloody fight to the bitter end.

I prevailed.  An important lesson she never mastered:  Never screw with someone who has a Masters in Human Resource Administration who is willing to go the distance.  I had nothing to lose, and you never want me in that kind of mental state because I become fucking dangerous.  I knew the law, the policies, and had our organization’s values as my shield.  I documented every twist of the knives stuck in my back.  I informed senior leadership (something that I felt I was risking my career doing) and HR. I made it clear, I would not go down without a fight.  It took long months but eventually matters were set straight.   My organization did what was right.

There was no parade.  No apologies.  Just a return to the work that I used to enjoy doing.

That doesn’t mean I don’t bear the mental and emotional scars of the battle. A month doesn’t go by where I don’t have some sort of anxiety attack as a result of her prolonged abuse.  The moments are less frequent over time and are triggered by little things.  Usually after them I realize what happened, why suddenly I was gasping for breath and unable to control myself.  She is dead to me, but her evil poltergeist still occasionally rips through my psyche.  In some ways it mirrors PTSD, but I struggle to adopt that label out of respect for men and women that have faced battlefield conditions.  I don’t want to be thought of as a victim, I want to be remembered as a survivor, a person that fought the good-fight and won.   Yet I struggle through those times when my anxiety flairs, straining to get back in mental control.  I hide it from most people pretty well, mask it with an awkward joke or two.

I learned that beating a workplace bully comes with a price. While I vowed I would never let some other bully pull this kind of shit with me again, I knew that every such conflict was going to take a piece of my soul.  I promised myself I would fight the good fight, but that mantra means I have to wade into battle now and then.

I found that a lot of people out there face the same things I did. When I was girding my loins for battle with this black-hearted succubus. I prepared a list of things that helped me maintain focus.  (I toyed with putting them to music like a Gregorian chant, but let that slide for the benefit of mankind).  When things got darkest, I would pull up this list and use it to galvanize my thoughts and calm.  I thought I’d share it with everyone out there that has faced workplace bullying.

  • I am the target of a workplace bully.
  • This is not something I caused or invited.
  • The person abuses me uses intimidation and threatens my job to demonstrate his/her power and control over me.
  • This person’s own deep-seated insecurities and inadequacies are reflected in his/her verbal and mental abuse.
  • This person is not just threatening me but my family since I am their provider.  I must be strong for them.
  • This person gives me contradictory feedback and directions that set me up to fail.  I know to watch for it, and document it.
  • This person uses misleading questions to test me rather than educate me.
  • Ultimately, I believe he/she hopes that I simply kowtow to her or leave the organization.  I will not grant him/her that satisfaction.
  • He/She will not beat me.  I cannot be defeated unless I allow it.
  • I will document his/her attacks and my responses without emotion – keeping to just the facts.
  • I believe in myself.
  • This is not about brains or expertise but is about professionalism.  I AM more professional than him/her.
  • I have a proven track record both as an individual and a manager.  It is my sword in this struggle, my weapon in battle.
  • I cannot out produce him/her to make this make this go away.  If I worked 24×7 he/she would still find fault with me and torment me for his/her own sick satisfaction.
  • I have fostered a network of people to encourage and support me on those days when he/she has pummeled and abused me.
  • I have let others know what he/she is doing so that, should I waver, I will not be the lone voice against my abuser.
  • I have contacted others he/she is bullying and am there to support them.
  • I provide value to the organization each day I work here.
  • I have the values of the organization on my side.  Her behavior is against those values.  They are my shield against her attacks.
  • I have let leadership know there is a problem and I trust that leadership will do the right thing.  This is my armor.
  • He/She will attempt retribution  – I will fight not bow to intimidation.
  • I will maintain my stand on the moral high-ground.   I’m not doing anything wrong and don’t deserve this.
  • I do not want her to be defeated – I want the negative unproductive behavior to change.
  • I recognize that the issues with a bully extend beyond the workplace.   His/Her issues are not me or our team but deep-rooted in his/her persona and psyche.
  • I will recognize verbal traps and do what I can to avoid them.
  • I am the master of my emotions.  I will not give her the satisfaction of making me react.
  • Time is my ally.
  • He/She will never see herself as being in-the-wrong.  He/She will never offer a sincere apology for her words and actions and I will not seek one from him/her.  I will  not waste time hoping for him/her to realize the errors of her ways.
  • I will not respond to abuse when I am weakest — when he/she’ is unleashing her abuse on me.
  • This person does not care about our corporate culture or our history – they are Machiavellian in their actions…believing that the ends justifies the means.  I will not corrupt my organization’s culture to make things easier for this person.
  • This individual will lie and deceive to advance their cause.   I will rely on the truth.
  • He/She can only win if I let him/her win.  I will not do this.

I decided after several years now, to publish this.  It’s my hope that it helps others out there that have dealt with workplace bullying.  To my virtual colleagues that are facing these issues, you are not alone – you will prevail.

Twenty-Two Things We Want To Say to Our Bosses But Don’t


I came to realize that there are things we want to say to our bosses but can’t (or won’t.) Most of us don’t want to shoot our careers in the foot or we are not sure how stable our “leaders” are when given honest feedback.  Face it, our managers are perched on a fickle stratum of the corporate ladder.  Even the ones we like sometimes just do things that make us wonder what is happening.

So starting a few years ago I began jotting down little things we all think but never say to our illustrious and fearless leaders.   Here’s the list:

It isn’t all about you.

Managers sometime bathe themselves in the thought that work is all about them, their careers, their worries, their little feelings, etc.  The center of their universe is themselves, a shining beacon for all mankind.  Ugh!  I understand the rampant narcissism in managers, but often times they forget that their job is not to get the next job – but to help develop their staff and get actual work done.

We don’t care about your career, your next promotion opportunity, etc.  We will feign caring if it will make you feel better.  We’d much rather talk about our career opportunities, or lack thereof.

I hate when you tell me how to do my job.

I have no issues with you telling me what you want done and when.  What IS frustrating is when you tell me how to do it.  At that point, why not just do it yourself?  When you do this you are presuming that I don’t know how to do the work; or that you know the best way to complete it.  Worse, you’ve reduced my contribution to being nothing more than a cog in the corporate machine.

Who knows, my way might be better, faster, or less costly than yours. If I don’t know how to do it, I’ll ask.

Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean you are capable of doing all of the jobs under you. Oddly enough most of us are doing jobs that we trained for and have some experience doing.

I know what you’re up to.

You think you’re getting away with skipping out of the office every Wednesday early to play golf when your calendar reads, “Senior Level Meeting?”  I know.  All of us working for you know.  No matter what little scams you may be contemplating, we are all over it.  Heck, we even joke about them behind your back.

My career success is dependent on you (which is why I may be screwed). 

Companies enjoy saying things like, “you own your own career.”  It absolves them of any responsibility and guilt for your career being mired.  In reality though, your success is directly tied to your manager’s ability to get you the right opportunities or position you for advancement.  If your manager fails in this role, you will be stalled career-wise.

It’s not about the number of hours I work…it’s about my contribution.

There are very few jobs where the number of working hours actually matter.  In this age of 24×7 connectivity, you are essentially on a digital leash every hour of every day.  Managers like to point to things like, “Look at Mary, she worked twenty hours of overtime last week,” as a measure of productivity.  In the real-world, Mary may have worked 20 hours of OT because she is plain slow.

I don’t care how hard or long you work.

This may shock you, but I don’t care if you worked a 70 hour week or if your vacation was interrupted.  It doesn’t impress or dazzle me.  You get paid a lot more money than I do so that you will have to put up with that bullshit.   Your long hours or hard work doesn’t inspire me.

When you claim credit for my work, a part of me dies inside.

True story.  I had a manager who got a promotion to an executive level job.  He went on to tell me that it was, in part, based on a project I had worked on – a project I ended up getting a mediocre rating for.  The rat-bastard got promoted because of the work I did – despite his constant interference.  I would have gotten it done much faster if he had not interjected with his weekly random changes of direction.  While I know this was his twisted way of saying, “Thank you,” it ended up as a miserable fail on his part.  Yet he claimed credit for my work and that helped him make a case for his promotion.

Every manager gets to bask in the glory when one of his/her people do well.  Know this: When you take credit for that employee’s work, you crush a part of their soul.

You can be replaced.

Managers are so cute when they believe they are indispensable.  Many harbor this illusion along with the thought that their staff are easily replaceable.  The really dumb ones try to convince their employees of this myth.  Silly managers.

The reality is the higher up in the proverbial corporate foodchain you are, the easier it is to find some self-absorbed egomaniac who can replace you because your skills are more people based rather than technical.

If you think this place will go out of business if you leave, you are sadly mistaken.

Don’t overestimate my loyalty.

True story again.  When I was a kid I worked at a Drive-In movie theater.  I liked my boss but eventually I got a better job and moved on.  My boss generated paychecks for me long after I was gone, cashing them himself, and used the money to help repair the run-down theater.  When I found out and demanded he stop, he told me I was disloyal to him – but agreed to stop breaking the law.  When I discovered he was still doing it, the assistant manager and I contacted his manager and got his ass fired.  Yeah – I was a bad ass kid at 16.

Loyalty is intangible at work.  It takes a long time to build up and can be wiped out in a matter of seconds.  Just because I seem to like you and listen to your stories about work, don’t presume that loyalty goes much beyond that.  When a manager starts making decisions based on his or hers interpretation of employee loyalty, they’re doomed to fail.

You sometimes sell me out and I despise it.

Sometimes office politics kicks in and you feel the need to compromise your team or individuals.  We get it.  Know this; we hate it.  A spine is a terrible thing to waste.  When we talk to you one-on-one you are very formidable and tough sounding.  Then you go off wimp out.  Please grow and maintain a pair.

You’re not nearly as perfect as you think you are.

To hear you tell it, you are God’s gift to managerial excellence.  Oddly enough you are not perfect.  Most people aren’t.  Sometimes it is downright entertaining to hear you pontificate about how good you are in your role and how invaluable you are.  Most of your staff would love to have a double of whatever it is you’re drinking.

You, however, make mistakes.  Most of the time we let your blunders slip (okay I don’t, but the other team members do).  In some cases we cover them up to protect your delicate ego.

When you say one thing and do another, I secretly plan your murder.

It’s called consistency and you might want to try a cup of it now and then.  When you tell me to do something one way, then contradict that and have me do it another way I find myself plotting your demise.  Flip-flopping, waffling, and changing direction only serves to sow the seeds of unrest with us peasants.

We talk about you behind your back. 

Sometimes we get together and say good things about you, so stop being paranoid.  More often than not, we just validate your current level of craziness with each other.  If it makes you feel better, you are often the focus of your staff’s conversations.  Usually these calls start with, “Can you believe he did that?” and go downhill from there.

When you force me to a social activity, I stick a pin in your voodoo doll. 

If you make me go, it’s not social.  Look, I spend way too much time with people at work as it is.  When you force or compel me to attend after hours events under the auspices of “team building,” I know what you’re up to. This is just a way to squeeze more work time out of me with the promise of simulated fun.  All we do at these things I think, “how can I get out of here without being noticed?”

My time is just as precious as yours.

So when you make me prep for a 7am call, then cancel it after hours the night before (so I don’t find out until 6:45am) I tend to get a little testy.  Oh, I understand that something came up but I could have enjoyed that extra twenty minutes of sleep. Oddly enough, despite our pay differences (which are vast), my time away from work is exactly as important as yours.

You are completely predictable. 

We all know what you’re up to.  Your name and the word “sly” don’t come up often in the same sentence.  After four weeks your staff have pretty much figured you out.  Despite your delusions of being James Bondish, you’re closer to Mr. Bean.   You are not as complex and sophisticated as you think.  Your direct reports have all figured out what your trigger point, hot buttons etc. are.  Sometimes I say stuff just to initiate an overreaction on your part.  (It’s one of the few fringe benefits I have in my job).

This is not a bad thing.  Because we know you and your work traits, we work better as a team.  We’re more efficient and can anticipate what you are looking for sometimes before you know it.

I can tell when you’re not paying attention – and I sometimes take advantage of it.

I know you think you can multitask but no one can.  One certain days, I can jingle my car keys and you will drop what you’re working on to watch them.  Your distractions may be insulting but they also provide us with opportunities.  To be blunt, you have no idea the things I have recorded you agreeing to (wink!)

I respect you – to a point.

Despite your idiosyncrasies I do respect you.  But only until you abuse that respect or give me good reason to question it. Oh, and don’t expect me to demonstrate that respect. I don’t want to look like a boot-licker.

You are more inconsistent than you realize.

Your inconsistencies provide us fodder for talking behind your back.  Even I have to admit, it is funny when you complain to us about the budget while you are on a business trip.  It is hilarious when you tell us there is no money left for training, when we all know you are going to a class.  We find it amusing when you tell us we can’t afford to get something done at work, while you are in the car service on your way to your next trip.  The sad truth is we look for those quirky little inconsistencies between what you say and what you do.  It gives the staff something to whine about.

Just because your boss doesn’t appreciate you – doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pat me on the back every now and then.

With most employees there is very little from turning a frustrating day of feeling unappreciated into a climb onto the roof with a high powered rifle to pick off their manager and co-workers.  It’s a remarkably thin line between the two mental states.  Occasionally, you need to tell me how well I’m doing and acknowledge the hard work I’ve done.  Whether your boss does it for you is irrelevant to me.

You’re not the only one with a crazy boss. 

Think about it…think about it…ah ha!  You got it.

Despite all of this, we have your back. 

I have stood up for you when you weren’t there.  While you have a love fest with yourself, there are others in our organization who are, shall we say, less appreciative of your contributions.  I will never admit it to you, but I have defended you. When others criticize you, I defend you.  The reason is simple – I have EARNED the right to be critical of you – they haven’t.  That, and a modicum of loyalty.

Like these?  Check out my book, Business Rules:  The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.  It’s a shameless plug, I know, I get it.

Office Humor – Funny Organization Titles for Your Next Reorg


Org ChartThis all started with a simple question:  What if organizations were designed using real-life descriptions of their activities?

When I was working on my master’s degree I loved my course on organizational design and form.  It’s part science, part art, a dash of common sense, and all office politics.  In other words, it’s challenging and unrewarding all at the same time.  In my job I have helped mange a LOT of reorganization efforts over the years.  It’s one of those competencies that is useful to know but a bit of a buzz-kill at a party. “Yeah, I do reorganizations…”  Watch the people flee.

I started to wonder, just for grins, what if we named organizations after what they were really known for?  Example:  Information Technology Security in many organization would be known as “The Department of No” since that is what they usually say way you ask for something. It’s their job to say “no.”

I have formulated some of the more humorous ones I’ve considered using over the years into the list below, for your amusement.  Any attempt to link these to my current organization would be pure folly on your part because most of these come from previous employers (you know who you are!)  These are purely for fun – so enjoy!

Oh, if you enjoy these, check out my book, Business Rules or Cubicle Warfare.  I am required by a lack of discretion to shamelessly plug my books on corporate culture.   Go buy them both on!

The Underachievers.  This is often confused with The Unaccountables.  These teams usually sit near each other and share staff.

The Limitless Travel Budget Group – aka The Miles for Points Team.  You know them, they are always going to meetings in other cities/countries/galaxies.

The Agency of Scheduling Meetings at Inconvenient Hours.  This group works eight hour days, just not aligned to your twelve hour days.  That’s okay, you can flex your calendar.  You didn’t need a private life anyway.

Team Humorless.  These guys/gals are already posting that this blog entry is stupid and they are going to turn me in for ratting them out.

The Team of Perpetual Planners.  These folks wallpaper their offices with MS Project output.  They often don’t provide any real help or guidance on a project, but they do produce a highly complex project plan which generates the illusion of organization…so I guess that counts.

The Lost Boys/Girls.  These aren’t vampires (well I don’t THINK their vampires) but rather a cobbled together department/group made up of people with uniquely specialized and unrelated skills.  They are refugees and survivors of dozens of other reorg efforts.  Sometimes we call these folks The Terminally Disenfranchised Cluster.

The “Point the finger at the other guys” Services Team.  This group usually doesn’t actually produce anything other than blame.

Professional Bootlickers League.  “Gosh, have you lost weight?  What a nice dress!”

The Easily Distracted.  You can spot them in a group easily.  Hold out your keys and jingle them.  The people that stare at your keys…they work in this group.

The Department of PowerPoint Enthusiasts.  This is often confused with the Department of Amazingly Beautiful But Workless Graphic Image Creators.

The Departmental Scape Goats Unit.  I worked in this department once – it sucked.

Team Just on the Verge of Going Postal  – Kick a dog enough, you’ll get bitten.  Never sit this team near the emergency exits, it prevents your fleeing when the inevitable happens.

The Department of the Obliviously Ignorant.   Why do these folks seem to attract each other?  It’s like some sort of weird stupidity gravity.

The Reason We Can’t Have Nice Things.  Your mom warned you about these folks.   

Instigators Anonymous.  Author’s note:  I’m a founding member of this elite team!

Virtually Unavailable.  Everything relies on their approval and they are never around.

“Special Projects”  This is a favorite of mine.  It’s the place they put people who have failed just enough to where we can’t fire them, but it’s recognized that they don’t quite perform.  They get their own special short yellow bus.

The Analysis Paralysis Team.  Their motto:  “We can’t come up with a motto until we get more data…”

The Department of Abused Children and Animal Torturers.  I was going to go with Future Serial Killers, but I think that’s implied with this group.

The Trending Worthless Data Office– aka Dashboards Anonymous

Intangible Methods in Motion Team.  These folks have a process for everything.  They are worthless processes with no basis in reality – but they have them.

The Operationally Dysfunctional…Too weird to promote, just productive enough to avoid being fired.  In fact – that’s their motto (they have tee-shirts with that on it.)

The League of Approvers of Other People’s Work.  This is a great group to work for because it doesn’t produce anything but generates the illusion of work.

The Disinformation League.  Also referred to as the Miscommunications Group or The Propaganda Ministry.

The Regionally Arranged Geographic Team Based on a Map on the Back of a Placemat at IHOP Department.  Also known as the Terminally Geographically Challenged Team.  Who knew that Brazil was in the same geographic team as Vietnam?

The Party Planners Group.  They are responsible for an average of 2.3 cakes left in the break room every month.  The Trending Worthless Data Department  has charts to prove it!

Anonymous Old Farts (AOF)  aka The Graybeards.  Don’t mess with these guys, they know where the bodies are buried…BECAUSE THEY BURIED THEM THERE…

The Branch of Things Beginning in the Letter E.  This one is from my current employer, because for years we named everything technological starting with the letter E.  Now we use the word “One” as the prefix to stuff we deploy.  Go figure.

The Perpetual Whiners and Moaners Work Cluster.  Their first reaction to this department title is to complain that it doesn’t actually describe them.

The Psycho-Hose Beast Directorate. I don’t have a description for this group – but I just liked the sound of their name.  Go figure.

The Station of Teflon Career Management.  Not to be confused with The Workgroup with Dirt on Other Team Leaders, though they often have a dotted line to each other.

The Team of Semi-Reformed Stoners.  They would complain about this blog post, but it would require getting up and their chairs are very comfortable.

Dip Sticks Who Live At the Office (also known as the Department of Far Too Many Plants and Crap In Your Offices)

The Island of Misfit Toys – a group on an org chart that is cobbled together of random people that no one knows where else they belong, so they are lumped together.

The Team of Crushed Souls.

The Directorate of Moron Control.  Hey, someone’s got to do it.

The Abused Children.  Survivors of every horrible manager and previous reorganization.  They have been so battered, so horribly career-abused, they are immune to just about everything.  Also known  as the Branch of The Walking Dead and The Survivors/Refugees  of Six Previous Reorganizations

Q-Level Division.  Not quite a C-Level Executive, Q-Level sounds very impressive and has a hint of James Bond to it, don’t you think?  These folks have all the new tech toys when the rest of us work with an abacus.

The Commission of Administrative Black Hole Ops.   Things go in, nothing ever comes out.

The Department of Future Lawsuits  (This comes from my time at one of the big three auto companies where all of the individuals who were HR nightmares ended up working in the same department, for manager who was generating more grievances then work at the time.  HR must have thought it was easier to have all of these folks on the same team.)

The 10-3 Team (this reflects their actual hours of work)  We all know the team I’m talking about (ever organization has one) where we rarely see them or when we do, they are working for roughly three hours a day then they pack up and head home.  What’s up with that?

The Department of Stall Tactics and Obstructionism  (Why oh why do these people seem to gather in one group on every org chart?)

The Department of Dark Side Operations.  Usually this is named after one particular manager who is ruthless, mostly-evil, and someone who is known to annihilate his opposition.  His team are blindly following minions who do his bidding.

The Bureau of Open Arrogance.  You can always look smart when you stand next to people that aren’t.  That doesn’t make you smart, just less-stupid.

So the next time you are doing a reorg, feel free to pick organizational titles from the list above.

A Critique About Careers


In my book, Business Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords, I address the subject of careers rather bluntly:

Your “career” is a concept that exists largely in your own mind.

People spend a lot of time worrying about their career.  But what is a career?  It is a concept that each of us holds dear.  It is the belief that the string of positions and roles you have held in your working life somehow stitch together to weave a story of progression and advancement.  Employees like to believe there is a pattern associated with the jobs they have held, but that is something they alone believe in.

Despite this, for many people their career is the most important thing in their lives.  Such individuals spend a lot of their day focused on something that is, for the most part, imaginary.

In reality, you have a job.  You will have a different job someday.  Those two jobs may or may not be related.  If they are, it is probably only in your mind.  That is where your career exists, between your ears.

I have had a few people comment that they struggle with this concept.  That is because for generations in the business world you actually had a career, and that your job is a stepping-stone along a long wonderful journey filled with unicorns, rainbows, and Golden Parachutes.  The truth of the matter is, you have a job.

Think back when you were in college and thinking about where you’d be working and what you’d be doing…are you doing it?  I can’t speak for you, but where I am working and what I am doing is not at all what I expected when I left school.  I didn’t choose this current job, in some respects I had it thrust upon me.  I’ve adapted in order to survive.  Many people do.  This is not something I planned as a stepping-stone to some grandiose major role in some fictitious company that exists only in my mind.  Like many people, I am in a job because at the time, it seemed like the right thing to do and that it might be fun.  I don’t have any illusions about my relationship with my employer.  They don’t owe me a career and I no longer expect them, or anyone else, to provide me with that fantasy concept.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have goals.  But the concept of a career is a fading icon of the American Dream.  Most organizations don’t want you to stick around and be part of their journey.  Fresh talent off the street costs much less than someone who has been around for a decade or so.  They need you to fulfill a task or goal, but will drop you in heartbeat the moment you no longer provide the value equal to your paycheck.  Companies moved away from keeping long-term employees a while ago.  In the US, 401k programs killed almost every corrupt pension program out there.  Your retirement, over the course of ten years, became your responsibility.  Companies no longer had to furnish long-term careers.  Employees became commodities which could be cut loose at a moment’s notice.  At almost the same time as the rise of 401K’s, came the stripping down of the Human Resources departments, shedding them of their authority to speak on behalf of employees.

I’m not saying this is bad or good, it just the way things are now.

That isn’t to say that you should not have some sort of plan for where you are working and where you want to work next …you should have at least a few ideas in mind as to what is next for you.  Realistically you have to do this.  If you think your organization is going to take care of you, that someone will coddle and mentor you and ensure your growth is along a secured path – well, it’s time for you to submit for your drug test.  This happens out there, but it’s pretty damn rare.

I hate the line most companies now use, “You own your own career.”  You only own it as much as they allow it and as long as it fits their whims.  In other words, all you own is the knowledge of where your frustration level is before you move on to the next job.  THAT is something you do own.

Want to read more?  Pick up my book.

The Re-Release of Cubicle Warfare


Cubicle Warfare, the breakthrough book on office politics, is now available on Kindle format for the first time ever!  This book was a game-changer for me.  It was my first true bestseller, in the days before dominating the bestseller lists.  I did a large number of television and radio interviews about the book – getting to meet Bill O’Reilly and a host of others.  Why all of the attention?  Well, let’s face it, office politics is a highly sensitive subject that all of us have had to cope with at one point or another.  Cubicle Warfare was the first book that took on the subject.

I have to admit, I enjoyed the publicity, though I found myself being the unofficial speaker on a subject that people loathed.  Fast Company did an interview with me – making me something of an expert on workplace culture.  I realized then that writing wry humor about the workplace, and being blunt about what really happened in offices was something that people wanted to read.  If nothing else then to confirm they are not alone.  I have long-suspected that writing the book hindered my professional career, but that is more paranoia than reality.  I pitied my boss (just a little) each time I was on the TV talking about backstabbing at work.

Here’s one of the Fast Company interviews:

Here’s one of the interviews I did for the New York Times

Here’s a snippet of me with Bill O’Reilly:  God I miss my hair!

The book has never been available in digital format until now.  I had to update remarkably little in the book.  As it turns out, office politics is a timeless subject.  I did make some updates in this new edition to make it a little more current – factoring in some changes in technology like webcams.

If you work in an office and want an edge in the ongoing cubicle wars, this book is for you!

The Loyalty Gap


Organizations love to talk about employee morale and fret over staff turnover rates – but rarely do they mention the topic of loyalty.  There’s a few reasons for this.  One, the subject of loyalty makes them nervous because there’s an implication that they might be part of the problem (which is true.)  Two, companies have been distancing themselves from having loyal employees for decades.  No really it’s true!  Think about it for a moment.  Back in the 1960’s people worked for a single organization for their entire career.  They had pension plans that helped that bond.  The companies realized the investment hey had made in recruiting and training someone, so they worked hard to find just the right place for the employee in the organization (as opposed to pushing them out the door.)  Employees couldn’t even conceive of jumping jobs at the first change of the corporate winds.

The 1970’s-1980’s messed this like a bunch of drunken football players tearing apart a friend’s home when his parents are out of town.  Companies began embracing the concept of large-scale layoffs…which they executed poorly.  Often times the top performers bought the farm in wild axe-wielding headcount reduction efforts.  Employees came to the realization that the street called Loyalty was a one-way avenue.  Organizations were no longer loyal to their employees, but they wanted the same degree of loyalty they had always enjoyed from the staff.  Laying off a single person was sad, laying off hundreds or thousands of employees was seen as “a positive change of business strategy,” instead of the tragedy that it really is.  The market rewarded companies that “trimmed the fat,” with increased stock prices.  When you reward behavior on Wall Street, you get more of that behavior.

Companies were encouraged to let people go so much that it became the norm – a part of doing business.  Forget the fact they often let go of the wrong people, that they performed the layoffs like rank amateurs.  All that mattered was the comfort they wrapped themselves in, that they were doing the right thing.  All the while they were chipping away at a reason for employees to be loyal.  Hell, sometimes it wasn’t “chipping,” it was swinging a broad-axe.

Pensions – which helped tie you to a company, disappeared – courtesy of the US Congress and their manipulation by lobbyists for big-business that wanted to divorce themselves from mis-managing pension programs.  Overnight, employees became responsible for their own retirement in the form of 401K plans which were built to travel with you from job-to-job – encouraging mobility between companies.  And through the 1990’s to today, as organizations convulsed and went through countless waves of RIF’s (Reductions in Force) the feeling that companies were no longer loyal solidified.  Bad decisions were made.  Suddenly the thin veneer of belief that organizations were well-run, by highly intelligent people, was gone.  The reality was clear – the people in charge were no smarter than any of the middle level managers they allegedly led.  When the companies beckoned, “Follow me – I have a vision,” employees didn’t follow immediately.  In fact, they began to question their leaders and their intelligence – and justifiably so.  It is hard to have deep-seated loyalty with someone that you think is, well, a moron.  That questioning was the first deep erosion in loyalty.

The 1990’s brought about the global neutering of human resources departments.  Outsourcing of benefits further severed the connections that people had to the organizations they worked for.  The role and influence of human resources diminished.

The waves of economic downturns and bulk RIF’s (Reductions In Force) brought about even more bad behaviors in many organizations.  There was an attitude of, “we can treat the employees anyway we want, it’s not like there are other jobs out there.”  Those sick bastards.  The economy became a convenient excuse for crappy attitude on the part of not just organizations but managers was well.   In some cases if you spoke up for what was right and didn’t deliver the message well, you painted a target on your back for the next round of layoffs.  Individual bravery in corporations was smothered.  The result was that no one raised a finger when companies like Enron pilfered investors money so blatantly.  People in those corrupt companies knew what was happening but lived in a culture of fear – a fear that still permeates the cube-farms of American business today.

Employees learned that layoffs were a curse no matter whether they happened to you or your colleagues.  The people let go went off and got new jobs, made new friends, etc..  Hell, some made better money.  WTH?  The survivors got their workload tripled and reminded constantly that if they didn’t like it, there wasn’t much they could do about it.  Again, the environment of fear smothered good behavior on the part of employees and especially managers.

By 2001 organizations just stopped talking about careers and spoke of jobs.  I have long maintained (see my book Business Rules) that careers exist mostly in your own head.  Companies went out of their way to solidify that thinking.  Everything was about filling immediate short-term needs, not fostering a sense of long-term connection.  Organizations began the propaganda of “You own your own career,” while their leaders still played puppet master when it came to promotions and advancement.  The message was indirect yet clear – “We want nothing to do with your concept of a personal career.”

At the same time, through all of the economic and corporate turmoil, companies have never stopped their desire for employees to be loyal.  They nervously fretted over employee turnover rates, citing the cost to recruit and on-board new staff.  Why would you want to leave a place like this?  The loss of intellectual capital made some leaders fidgety.  Managers learned you couldn’t throw bodies at the problem – replacing one experienced person often required two or more completely inexperienced new hires (fresh meat).

Employee understandably attitudes shifted with this change.   They transitioned from “loyal soldiers” to “semi-armed mercenaries.”  It became clear that the organizations were not supporting them for the long haul; so why should they stand by their companies?  Job hopping – something that three decades earlier was seen as a negative on your resume’ became the norm.  Employees got the message loud and clear from the organizations and, in turn, stopped looking out for the company they worked for and looked out for themselves (after all, who else was going to?)

Historically mercenaries are often renowned fighters but at the end of the day, they work only to get paid.  Success is measured in dollars.  Gone is the concept of loyalty.  When the going gets tough, the employees will flee and the company will dissolve.

After all of this you have to ask, “Is loyalty really important?”  Loyalty is the mentality of the employee to the organization – the commitment to the success of the company/firm you work for.  It’s your willingness to follow and even passionately support your leaders and the organization where you are employed.   It’s not the glue that holds the organization together – it’s the gas that keeps things running.  It is the resolve to do what is right for the organization above your needs.  Yes damn it, loyalty does stand for something.

I will go so far as to predict that the pendulum is going to swing back sometime in the next two decades – that companies are going to be compelled to seek loyal employees again.  To get them and keep them, they will be forced to change their ways.

So the next time someone tells you they’re worried about morale – remember this article and tell them what they need to really worry about is loyalty.  Better yet, ask them what they have done to promote loyalty.  Trust me, the answer will be fumbled and mildly entertaining.