"The Fart of War" or "How to win bonuses and influence top management"
As I see many of my friends joining companies and blaze luminous careers, I think a few home truths and advice is called for. While that great socio-political commentator Dilbert has waxed eloquently along similar lines, he is an imaginary character. Also he has never worked in India and has never had to deal with things such as Provident Fund Contributions. So before the valiant go forth and "become XYZC Corps' most valuable assets" a few slick ways to make sure you grow fast and make tons of money. Without working too hard. (Investment bankers please excuse. I am writing a column called "Three weeks to a Social Life" or "Even you can do what your friend in IT does on the weekends" for the i-bank types.)
Some of you may have read similar stuff in other places. That only goes to show they are universal truths. But expect some explosive new insights as well.
Rule 1: Reading between the lines.
New employees always take what their superiors say literally. It takes months before they understand what some utterings from the high and mighty really mean. For example if your boss says: "I like enthusiasm in young new employees" what he really means is "Night Shift. From next week". Young ears need to be on the constant alert for such timebombs. "The Compensation Policy? Check with Rose in HR" in plain english means "I dont know. Neither should you" Of course then there are the ones which means your being chucked out at the year end. "Sidin, you will be leading the "Best Practises Team" next year" or "That office room in the basement next to the vending machines is free...." In conversational english that means: "Dont buy anything on hire purchase and you can browse Monster.com in the office."
Rule 2: Looking busy.
While it may not be productive I have heard of guys who made VP purely by keeping an excel sheet open on their computers for over 8 hours a day. You can do even better. Open an excel sheet and fill a column with the random number function. Refresh every ten minutes. Give column headings like "YTD BFC over JFM" or "Indexed Fluctuation Quanitifier" In two days your boss will break into a sweat and in two weeks you should be all set to take over. However the all time great way to look busy is simply holding a piece of white copier paper roughly held between fingers in a creaseless arc. Walk, drink tea, go the canteen with the sheet always visible. Once in a while call home and talk to mom looking very seriously at the sheet.
Max on phone: "Hello mummy? How is Tinku? I am fine..."
Boss frowning: "Who you speaking to?"
Max nonchalantly: "Nothing boss, I need to clarify this months quanitifier data with Research. Seems to be a lot more Z-variation than I expected..."
Boss wiping sweat from brow: "(Gulp) Ok..." (Boss calls home to tell wife to book tickets to Tirupati)
Never fails. Trust me. I once costed an entire new order using random number, excel and a blank sheet. We got the contract too.
Rule 3: Intraoffice espionageNothing can hurt a young go-getter more than not knowing whats happening behind your back. Live in oblivion for a few months and then at your first 360 degree appraisal you fail miserably. They will call you vile increment-hampering terms like "Not a team player" or "Cannot drive the best out of subordinates" Why? Because everyone thinks you are arrogant and lazy. (Which you are entitled to be of course, but you NEED to know don't you...) To prevent that you need to keep an eye on everything. How? Three simple methods.
"Nishanth my comp crashed. I need to send an email to HR. Gimme your Outlook for a sec no."
"No probs yaar Mike, but no easvesdropping okay...HAHAHAHA"
"Hahhahaha (bloody idiot) hahahaha... of course yaar..."
You quickly find the emails you want and forward them to your id. Take them home on your laptop and plan revenge in peace. The emails will have subjects like "Regarding Mike sleeping during meeting" or "What is that paper Mike always has with him?"
Method 2: The first of two telecom based methods. Here you wait to get a phone call from someone who needs info from you. Then tell him to hold on while you get the file. Then dont do anything. 95% of people talk about stuff assuming your not listening. (Statistically proven. 18 of 20 people in my office did it.)
"Mike, last months billing please. Bill no. 234"
"One sec Raj, let me take that file from the shelf..."
Silence (Raj thinks Mike is off to check his file and speaks to Tania sitting across)
"Tania, that new Mike guy is good is he...?"
"No sir. Noone likes him. He has issues. Last week during the Q2 meeting I had to make the "Exciting Place to Work" presentation instead of him. He had slept off in the back."
Method 3: My personal favourite and guaranteed CEO in 10 years. This will need two phones atleast one of which is cellular. Casually leave your cell in your place and tell everyone you are going to some department far away. Best to say you are going to "Customer Service". Noone goes there anyway. Now your cell must be all rigged. Ringer on zero volume and auto answer activated. Now leisurely go to Customer Service, talk to the security guy sitting there for a while and then call your own phone from another one. Voila!!! It switches on and noone notices and you can hear everything spoken when you are not there. But beware, YOU HAVE TO BE THE FIRST TO CALL else...
(Boss calls your cell before you can...)
Boss: Hello... hello... (Why is noone replying.. I can hear everyone...)
Coworker One: Share that "North Pole 7" no...
Coworker Two: One sec... haan done... dont get caught ok?
Coworker One: What folder is it in?
Coworker Two: Its in "CMM Docs" folder...
Boss: Bastard!!! Porn in MY office? Now where is that CMM Docs.. I have to see it for myself...
Rule 4: Never volunteer for anythingMany a poor soul has seen his incentive pay vaporise following a fool hardy attempt to save the company. Volunteering is for insecure wimps. Not for confident MBAs. If someone approaches you with a task, deftly deflect it to someone else. For example:
"Mike I need someone to make a presentation about "Breakthrough Projects..."
"Sir, Stan was looking forward to it sir. He sounded very interested. But he is on leave today I will tell him tomorrow."
Star Recruit:"Stan, the big man wants you to do that BP presentation. He insisted on you doing it. Thinks you are very enthu about it and all... he wants to meet you at 4..."
Stan: "What...(with joy...) he asked for me particularly?..."
Star Recruit: "Yeah yeah, just make sure you seem damn enthu about it when you meet him..."
Stan: "Done da Mike... thanks a lot.. and why are you sitting in Customer Service?..."
Star Recruit: "Oh nothing much... lend me your Outlook Express and cell phone for a sec no..."
Rule 5: Have "NO information" at your fingertipsThere is a subtle difference between "No information" and ignorance. Ignorance is easily expressed as follows:
Boss: "So Max whats the localization ratios on the B492 turbo cat?"
Max: "err... Tuesday sir??..."
That's ignorance. "No information" on the other hand is a feared and little mastered weapon. Please note below:
Boss: "So George whats the localization ratios on the B492 turbo cat?"
George : "Depends Sir. If the vendor turnout attains scalability or lack thereof moderately then the statistics should be in our favour. Otherwise really it would depend a lot on how quickly we reset our inventory paradigm models."
Boss: "Excellent. When can we have the numbers?"
George: "Tuesday sir."
Max comes across as a total idiot. He has underpaid middle management written all over him. George will be quickly put on the fast track programme and foreign deputation will follow in a year.
Rule 6: Speak the way the bosses do
Keep your ears open for words the higherups like to use. Later they tend to form a large chunk of office vocabulary. Be the first one to use them and you are in the good books faster than you can say "40% hike". I remember in one of our meetings one of our bigwigs said "This contract is sancrosanct". Then a few minutes later he said "So as I said all the deadlines are sacrosanct." In two weeks the word was doing the rounds everywhere...
HR: "Please remember its two chappatis per head at the mess. Thats sacrosanct."
Finance: "I have told you a million time with very much sacrosanctity that all POs have to have vendor ids."
Maintenance: "We have been told by the EB that power will go sacrosanctly at 1 and come back sacrosanctly at 5."
MBA Gang: "What do you think looks more sacrosanct on the slide, green or blue?"
Quality: "This year's Quality Festival is being called "Project Sacrosanct"...."
The boss was very happy. Many increments went out.
These will suffice for today. Remember these 6 rules very well. Write them down and stick them on your soft board in the office. Use the title "Continuous Improvement Goals 2004". Noone will then go anywhere near them. If there are those who still think hard work and perseverence will save you be warned. Your life will end up like Provident Fund Contributions. Only HR really knows about it, but noone really cares. (How deftly did I bring in PFC I say!!!) More on things like Presentations and Mission Statements in the next edition.