Friday, March 25, 2011

Of Weasels and Eagles

After much pain and frustration I think I have learnt the secret to success at work. I wouldn’t recommend this for anything other than work. If someone associated with my personal life acted like this, I would slap them. Hard.

There are a couple of sayings that kind of sum up what I’m getting at. “Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.” “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable” While the former is what happens, the latter is what one should live by. Helps keep the disappointment at a minimum.

There’s a reason why ‘passionate’ is never used to describe veterans. Increased exposure to the rest of humanity isn’t pretty. As someone else put it, “Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups” or in management for that matter. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never worked in a ‘fun job’ but I’ve always noticed that the ones that last in most companies are usually the weasels. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are really a lot of fun, but they still qualify for the term “weasel”. There are some who’ve elevated it to an art form. Being the enlightened few, they’ve figured out early exactly what will happen to them if they show the least sign of initiative or creativity. It’s like that arcade game with the moles and the hammer. Every time a mole pop’s it’s head up, you whack it with the hammer. In real life Pavlov’s theory would kick in but in the game the moles being the suckers for punishment that they are, keep popping up even faster. Give them a brain and the game would be over in one maybe two rounds. Self preservation is a wonderful thing.

I guess middle management's whole role is to drain the life force out of everyone under their command.  From their attitude, to their procedures, to the colour of paint on their walls! A happy, motivated, creative work force might be poached by competitors, is expensive to retain and is a constant threat to senior management's jobs. But a disillusioned, de-motivated, manic-depressive work force... well, that's just perfect isn't it? Low maintainence, easy to control and sometimes it's as effective a means of destruction of competition as a biological weapon. Nuclear weapons and poisonous gasses have nothing on a depressing, demotivated, complaining colleagues. They can, and I speak from bitter experience, suck the life out of you far more effectively than anything else on this earth. Just think about it from management's perspective for a minute. Depressed and demotivated employees don't drain depratment budgets, it's the happy, high performers that do. Lower pay outs to employees means more money left over! And misery loves company, so wherever they go, it's not happiness and cheer that they're spreading! Like the demetors of Azkaban they will suck out every happy, creative thought from their colleagues wherever they go. Possibly even play such distructive politics that competing teams are thoroughly destroyed! BWAHAHAHAHA!!! What more would anyone want? You're managing well within your budget and your competitor is in shambles! You da Man!

So the secret to success, as I see it, is to keep your head down and do your work and have faith in the essential pettiness that is a large part of any and every employee. Understand here, that there is a very BIG difference between the entrepreneurs that have risked a lot to build what they have and the employees that have piggy backed on that success always ensuring that their respective rear ends have been adequately covered. Always remember, every moment is the dawn of a new error, and when mistakes have been made, someone will get blamed. Do your level best to make sure you have an air tight alibi when that happens. And last but not least, eye-contact is a double edged sword. If you don’t have the bulk to intimidate a pestilential superior, don’t risk the eye-contact. The pettier the opponent, the more likely they are to consider it a threat, or worse! In other words, keep your nose clean and stay below everyone's radar. It's tougher than it looks...

Once again, anyone attempting outside work isn't going to get you very far.