Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Office Politics 101

I have been working in this office for almost 2 years (I am so ashamed of myself) and offices in general for about 4 years now. I have a wealth of experience for new employers to pull from. But mostly, I have observations to share with you. Yesterday, in passing, Anna inadvertantly stumbled on today's topic.

We were innocently chatting (on our office messenger) trying to kill time at the end of the day. Honestly, we were probably whining about something else F-ed up that happened. Could have been anything: how Maurice messed up my printer mojo yesterday by touching things he shouldn't, how Lily was suddenly a convert to Passing the Buck, maybe even how John decided to say "hey" because "we hadn't talked in a while" (you know what John? We have nothing to discuss. You are no longer my boss, you and I have nothing in common, I basically find you repulsive in every way, get the hint and leave me alone). Like I said, it might have been anything. Then it happened. Anna opened her mouth (typed some words) and poured forth the gem: Office Politics 101.

And it evolved from there into a sort of list of office Commandments (we came up with 10 things).

Because I'm a sharer (read: imparter of wisdom) I have compiled the list, fine tuned it and am now posting it here. Obviously this was a long, complicated process, spanning several months of intensive research and experimentation. It could never be something that I just threw together. That would be embarassing.

In no particular order of importance, I give you your first lesson in Office Politics 101. Take notes, people, there will be a quiz on this. But not really. I don't have time to mark that.

1. The more money you make, the less actual work you do. (Enough said).

2. The louder you are, the more important you are (Or the more important you perceive yourself to be).

3. Emails are an effective way to passive aggressively micro-manage your team. Are people not hand washing enough? Let the m know with an email. Is there one person on the team not pulling their weight? Send out a mass email clearly outlining the problem but no names! Leaving out names will cause people to speculate amongst themselves. Too much work? Send out a mass email letting everyone know what targets they are supposed to be hitting.

4. Criticism and withholding rewards are an effective way of getting things done. If you are behind schedule due to your own lack of efficient management, pull people aside and place some of the blame on their lack of production. If you have someone asking for a raise (how impertinent! Cost of living? Not part of your vocabulary) let them know that they would have been eligible had their production been better. This will quash the subject and force the employee in question to work harder. Everybody wins.

5. Flexibility is a sign of weakness. Dress codes are set in stone. Doctor's appointments are to be scheduled on your own time. Flex hours are not permissable.

6. Dress codes do not apply to superiors. Flip flops in November are the perfect showcase for your newly pedicured feet. Pedicures paid for by your increasing-yearly salary.

7. Flex hours are an excellent way to get things done as a Manager/Supervisor. They allow you to rearrange your own schedule conveniently and get things done when no one else is around.

8. Passing the Buck shows that you are ready for a promotion. See Rule 1. If you are at the stage in your career where you are already passing the buck, being too busy and important to even do the work that is assigned, you are ready for bigger and better!

9. When you are the Boss a large amount of your day will be spent watching and reprimanding your staff for inocuous socializing. You don't want them getting the idea that work is fun. However when your lurking time is over, feel free to destroy personal relationships, plan cruises where you run into an ex and his new husband. Things of that nature.

10. Friends and significant others have no business being in the workplace. If they are picking staff up, they can wait downstairs. However, if you are a supervisor, your boyfriend is allowed to pop in for a juice box, or to bring by some carnations. Friends needing help with school projects are also OK- make sure to book a meeting room. Finally, personal phone calls are expected and encouraged. If you are a supervisor.

There you go Folks, a list of rules to follow if you want to get ahead. If you are not currently the boss, make sure that you do all the opposite things. Until you get to that Passing the Buck level.

Also, in gratitude for faithful reading (and address sending) an official Cubicle shout out to my friend Angela in Madrid. Hopefully you are no longer subjected to the whims of an ornary and stupid supervisor. And a big Congratulations to Claire, the inspiration behind the blog, for quitting her own personal Cubicle-like hell. When you stop hyperventilating I know you will see that you made the right choice!!!!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Thankfully, no longer at the whims of an award winning delegator. On that note, i received my recommendation letter from him today, complete with an incorrect birthdate (mine) and a mispelled company name in his job title. hooray for management.

    Anyways do i still get a christmas card? Me likey the new look :)

  2. Wow, he really does sound like a d-bag. I'm glad that he took the time to put that letter together. What is it about a-holes that they make the managers all the time?
    And no Angela, no Christmas card. This was it. :P

  3. Jesus. I just read an article in the NY Times about how the NYPD is attracting highly educated people fleeing Wall Street and cube-type jobs and running to the police department for the excitement, the unheard of pension (1/2 salary for life after 20 years-- if you live) and the distinct lack of flip-flops or passive-aggressive emails.

    In short, you & I need to become cops.

  4. Yeah, I mean, do you think that we could? It seems like its a long process no? And all those rules? I don't know that I could grow a moustache, I suppose that I could try.

  5. You can grow a moustache. Trust me-- even if you're not of Eastern European descent.

    Just eat nothing but white bread for a week and then try to take a shit. The force exerted will undoubtedly result in moustache hairs jutting out angrily beneath your nose.