1/04/2010

Corporate Survival Guide: New Years Resolutions

It’s appropriate, at this time of year, to set goals, to form plans, to set in motion devious and unstoppable strategies for world corporate domination; in short, to make New Year’s Resolutions.

Since ancient times, warriors have performed this ritual as they looked forward with grim determination and blood-soaked chainmail to the coming year’s conquests. From Alexander the Great’s epic “I’d like to see what Persia is like this time of year” to Napolean’s ill-fated “I wonder what the Borscht is like in Moscow?”, soldiers and leaders alike have set battle goals that shaped their not only their lives, but the entire shape of society and the combat-fatigue fashion world around them. Today’s Corporate Warrior owes it to himself and his fellow troops to do the same.

Here are some suggested resolutions to draw from, but feel free to improvise for your particular situation. Remember, the main idea is to set optimistic but reasonable goals, ones that will be difficult to achieve, but which are realistic enough for you to attempt them. I’ve listed these in reverse order of achievability; choose accordingly to your abilities.

Veterans

  • Become CEO and fire everyone that ever slighted you. Remember that guy that cut in line in the cafeteria and ordered past ahead of you, causing you to have to wait an extra 2 minutes? Sure, he apologized and said he didn’t understand that the general milling-about was actually a line, but he didn’t really mean it. When you are CEO, you get to fire him. HR will say that you need a reason and a paper trail, but the best part about being in charge is that you can have other people do that work for you.

  • Invent a new product that becomes the cash-cow of the corporation. Nobody has power in a corporation like the person running the most profitable product. They get to set the overall corporate agenda, pick the best meeting rooms, and change the coffee vendor. There’s nothing to stop you on the grueling battlefield of internal politics if you’re the guy bringing in the payroll. All you have to do is come up with the product that makes it all happen.

Warriors

  • Get invited to The Meeting. There’s usually one conference room where it all happens. You can tell the one by looking in the hall outside; there are always catering carts for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea, because these people are busy, and I mean busy implementing corporate strategic imperatives. Obviously, this group of people is critical to the future success of the company or else the company wouldn’t be spending so much on catered cookies every afternoon, so it stands to reason that every person in that room is a star. So all you have to do to be a star yourself is get in that room. You can use subterfuge (“Alan couldn’t make it today, I’m his proxy”) to ignorance (“Oh, I thought this was the Accounting Principles and Practices weekly”) to actual aptitude, although this last one is a pipe dream, so I’d focus on the others.

New recruits

  • Suck up every day. This one is obvious; you only get promoted on the Corporate Battlefield by sucking up to your entire chain of command. But make it a goal this year to do it not just once or twice a week, but every day, even several times a day. Remember: there’s always an excuse to talk to your boss, and there’s always some compliment you can come up with (“Nice shoes!”, “Good joke at that meeting last month!”, “You radiate power today!”), so do it, today and every day.

  • Don’t get fired. Sometimes the best you can achieve on the battlefield is not dying. Some days, it’s not the bodies that you littered No Mans Land with, but the fact that one of them wasn’t yours. Do whatever you have to, every day, to not get fired. Call in sick, contract a debilitating disease, file for sexual harrassment, kidnap your manager’s dog, acquire compromising photos from the holiday party: whatever it takes. If everything else fails, when you see that HR person coming to your cube with an envelope and a box of tissues, switch nameplates with your coworkers and hide in the printer room.

Maybe you have a better resolution in mind (doubtful, but possible), which is fine. But the important thing is to make some New Year’s resolution. A resolution is like a goal, and a goal is like a plan, and a plan is like a strategy, and a war with no strategy is like decaffeinated coffee or nonfat desserts: what’s the point?
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