Category Archives: Office Politics

Tuesday September 29th 2009

  • Interesting statistic which doesn’t appear to be receiving the publicity that it deserves: In the United States, a house is foreclosed or repossessed every 7.5 seconds. As usual, the politicians are taking care of business at the macro-level, while the grass-roots are burning.

  • It is an excellent idea for Gordon Brown to take-on the other two Party leaders in televised debates. Any future Conservative or Liberal vote should be a “pro” Conservative or Liberal vote and not an anti-Labour vote. The Labour backroom boys, led by Darth Mandelson are obviously running a campaign centred-around the comparative inexperience and youth of the other two leaders. That’s fair, because that’s exactly what the Tories did  to Tony Blair in 1997. Admittedly, David Cameron and the Liberal David Whassisname look fresh and youthful compared to Brown – who currently looks as if he has been cage-fighting with his hands in his pockets but in spite of his comparative lack of political fitness, he is not to be underestimated. He will be boring but he will come out fighting. There will be blood. We’ll know by late next week whether David Cameron and George Osborne have steel and substance. Constant criticism and sniping at the Government by the Opposition is quite entertaining but when it comes to a General Election, we will need to witness views and hear policies. Having said all that, remember that PERCEPTION is king and if in spite of brand-new shiny policies from the Tories, the Labour spin machine manages to make David Cameron look like a shallow “oik” then the forthcoming election will be much closer that we currently perceive.

  • One of the ideas being kicked about at the moment is the saving of millions of Education pounds by  cutting teaching assistant jobs in schools. In the UK there are 40,000 teaching assistants – they’re the ones who sit in the classroom with “challenged” children or take them on zoo trips. They are all very nice people, I’m sure –  but a waste of money. Many of the children don’t need a glorified baby-sitter – they need specialist teaching. While we’re on the subject of cuts , I would take an immediate horizontal slice through the current Education Department bureaucracy and take-out all those school advisers – the ones in the designer suits with Series 3 BMWs. They are a waste of time but unfortunately , many are ex-teachers. 

  • Conference time is the time when politicians churn out populist crap in order to grab newspaper headlines and cheap applause. Gordon Brown now says that he will turn 11,500 Post Offices into the “Peoples Bank”. That’s what Building Societies used to be. There was one other bank which used to be popular with the “people”. Now what was that called?…… Oh yes, it was called the Trustee Savings Bank. Whatever happened to that? Here’s a quote from Gordon: “I want the Post Office to step in to help hardworking families to save and access their money easily with banking for the people in our neighbourhoods”. If Brown thinks that he is going to create a new banking system in under eight months, then perhaps Andrew Marr was right about the happy pills. Brown is obviously playing without the full complement of marbles. Oh yes – one final thing. “Hardworking” working class families need JOBS. They rarely save their Giro cheques.

  • Today’s the day that Gordon Brown will either  read the best speech of his life or stumble his way through the world’s most-boring and longest-ever suicide note. Whichever way it swings – there will be lots of applause, back-slapping and standing-up.

  • If you keep putting rats in a cage and keep adding rats, there comes a time when they start eating each other. The human equivalent is the run-down council estate. Weak rats are prey to the bigger and stronger rats. That is exactly the phenomenon which killed Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca. Mrs Pilkington was driven to such desperation through being goaded and verbally abused by a gang of young pikeys that she set-fire to herself and her daughter. Not the best way to die. Needless to say there will be enquiries, lessons will be learned, the Social Services will be exonerated, the Police will make excuses, the local Council will hold a press conference and make a statement. By now, the whole process is probably in an Operations Manual somewhere.

  • Jack Straw is surprisingly eloquent today. The trouble is that The Brighton Centre seems half-empty or as the Tories might say “half-full” or as the Liberals would say “too big”. Let’s hope it fills up when the leader performs. The Labour Party is going to play dirty this time. Straw mentioned Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act. This was repealed by Labour in 2000 and was the section of the 1988 Act which stated that a Local Authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”. They should stop dragging up 20-year old legislation (under which there wasn’t a single prosecution). Homosexuality is not an issue in 2009 and “New” Labour is clearly demonstrating what little legislative success it has had in the last 12 years. Occasionally they still bang-on about 13 years of Tory Rule!!! Labour should fight on current policies. By the way, when Jack sat down, the reception was at best muted, at worst underwhelming. As the spin doctors might say: He received a seated ovation.

  • Fiona Phillips off the telly is speaking but she is having difficulty speaking because she appears to have  her tongue well-stuck up Alan Johnson’s well-groomed backside. She is acting, flicking her hair and simpering like a love-struck typist who’s just shagged the boss. At least Johnson, who looks (and sounds) more Bookie’s runner than Statesman has the good grace to look embarrassed. What the f*** was all that about? “Airhead introduces Postman Pat”? 

  • There is one session that we presenters and speakers like to avoid – if given the choice. It is the session immediately after lunch when your audience arrives full of food and drink and whose brains are temporarily in semi-shutdown as their stomachs begin the digestion process. We call it the Graveyard Session. Wonder who’s speaking this afternoon? Oh yes! Him! Perhaps the audience needs to be semi-comatose. If it isn’t, it soon will be.

  • I’ve just been watching a recording of John Denham speaking at the Labour Conference. Is it me, but doesn’t he look like a Conference League Football Referee? He’s another one who disapproves of David Cameron’s “Notting Hill” Policies. All Labour speakers are talking-up the social gap between the poor and the Conservative Party. A dangerous and desperate strategy. Only Mandelson has verbally placed the Labour Party firmly in the middle of the political spectrum but he also took the opportunity to accuse the Tories of lurching to the right as soon as they are elected. The Socialists are going to defend  that middle ground to the death. That is where the election will be fought. The Labour strategy appears to be to make the electorate perceive the Tories as a gang of inexperienced extreme right-wing Notting Hill hoorays.

  • Have you noticed how the Party that’s behind in the polls always accuses the BBC of “bias”. Today we have anti-Government bias – in the old days, under Her Thatcherness and John Major, we had BBC left-wing bias. Apparently the BBC is capable of bias in all sorts of delicious flavours and colours.

  • Gordon Brown has started his speech with a list of Labour achievements. That’s the first five minutes gone. He has obviously structured his speech very simply. The next list is one of his cabinet and their achievements. That will probably be another ten minutes. Luckily I have a hairdressers appointment at 3 o’clock. He’s just mentioned Northern Rock. Talking off-script? He started with a smile but has now forgotten it and his expression has returned to looking as if he’s defusing a Taliban bomb. I notice that his <pauses for applause> seem to be immediately after he has mentioned a large number of some sort and his intonation changes as if he’s saying “Crackerjack pencil! “He’s mentioned Harriet and Alistair but has now stopped naming Cabinet members. My current thought is that his speechwriters should be ritually disemboweled and fed to Darth Mandelson. His speech has now become the usual drone. As he is slagging-off the bankers, I fear that it is time to go. If you listen to his speeches, you will notice that he seldom uses adjectives or adverbs. I just killed a fly and wonder whether I should turn the Aga back on today, in  spite of the sunny weather. Our field was cut a couple of days ago but I just cannot summon the energy to cut the lawn. It takes two hours. Gordon Brown is still talking. He doesn’t like banks, does he? Surprising therefore that he’s invested so much of our money in them. I’ll record it and come back later after a couple of Bushmills. He’s just used the most exciting phrase of the whole speech – Economic Model. Enough. He’s off on his pre-leaked Post Office bollocks.  Low carbon Zones? He knows how to give his audience a good time.

  • What’s all this about “Middle England”?  Why don’t they just say Northamptonshire? Or do they mean Middle Earth?

  • In the USA, the Federal Housing Association has a leverage ratio ( What it owes compared to what it owns) of 50-1. Interestingly, that’s just about the same as Bear Stearns had on the eve of its collapse. The FHA insures about $750 billion in mortgage debt. In the UK, “leverage” is known as “gearing”. They are both euphemisms for debt.

  • Have you noticed that the £-Sterling is just about to achieve parity with the Euro?

  • An ASBO is an Anti-Social Behaviour Order and it is usually given out to pikeys and their parents. The trouble is that most of them are so thick that they probably think that an ASBO is a qualification which will be worth a few points on their UCAS form when they go to University to study demolition or vehicle hotwiring. I’ve just seen some ASBO-pikeys being interviewed and it seems that the sub-species favours a single earring and a tattooed neck (men) and the women have to be very fat with bleached hair. Their natural habitat is either a bus shelter or a stained sofa which faces a television. They only eat orange-coloured food – as long as it doesn’t contain fruit or vegetables.

  • Just saw a re-run of Sarah Brown introducing Gordon. She was good. She will be a major Labour weapon in the forthcoming General Election. I wonder if David Cameron’s wife Samantha is taking Powerpoint and sincero-talk lessons?

Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Gordon Brown’s letter to Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Head of the Civil Service has seven paragraphs. Five of them begin with “I”.

Unpopular leaders realise that their enemies are all around them and ultimately they feel threatened by every one – even those whose careers they enhanced and who they feel should owe them allegiance. When they reach that inevitable stage, they are well and truly in the arms of the hired help – the advisors. And it is no surprise to learn that most advisors are just as unpopular as their masters.

Blair’s hitman and “friend” was Alistair Campbell. Brown had McCain.

A good dictator eventually makes enemies of all those close to him. The really big trouble starts when even the advisors are alienated. The hired help does not have to like its master – but it helps.

By nature, Brown is an analytical -he has that in common with ex-Accountant-CEO, Sir Fred Goodwin. When dealing with analyticals under pressure, those close soon discover a dark, sinister and nasty side. Ask any senior ex-RBS executive.

Analyticals under pressure become not-only nasty but “personal”. They are not the most likeable individuals in the first place but if you intend to put them under pressure, make sure that you take a tin hat and full body armour – otherwise you will get hurt. Luckily, unlike the “expressives” like Obama, analyticals do not have a strong need to be liked. They are natural loners and find it difficult to interact. When there is trouble, they will look to solve matters by either using or creating rules and regulations. Hence Brown’s letter to Gus O’Donnell and hence Brown’s liking and reliance on enquiries and Commissions. Analyticals paint with a very limited palette.

Brown already knows that he will lose the next General Election and that there is a more than 50% probability that there will be a challenge to his rather flaky leadership. G20? What G20? Brown’s only long -term political future may lie in a Ken “Lazarus” Clarke-type resurrection. Otherwise he is finished. He certainly is not capable of doing the Blair thing and going into showbiz.

McBride’s emails suggesting some “jolly japes” aimed at Cameron and Osborne had more than a whiff of Senior Common Room than any seriously heavy political substance. Therefore, Brown should have smiled a wry smile (he does those well) , apologised unreservedly and then hung McBride out to dry. The focus would then have been on McBride and not on Brown.

Cameron and Osborne have a very good reason to feel outraged because in spite of the occasional endearing lapse into  neo-Abbott and Costello, they are a pair of  thoroughly decent blokes. McBride has done them them both a great political favour: they are now firmly occupying the moral high-ground, they are offended and Brown will not say “Sorry chaps – it won’t happen again.”

You could not plan or pay for a better image boost.

Back to the Gus O’Donnell letter and all those “I”s. They suggest two things – the first is that Brown ‘s ego has taken a bashing and he is attempting to reassert himself. Secondly, the letter did not have the benefit of an advisors red pen prior to release. Brown is on his own.

Cameron knows exactly how these Spin-Advisors (SPADS) work – he used to be one under Margaret Thatcher. Remember, at the end of her reign she ended up feeling as lonely and as isolated as Brown is feeling today.

This coming Wednesday, PMQs should be the best yet. Cameron will look serious, vulnerable and wounded. Brown will make his weekly error of indulging in pointless muck-raking through Tory recent history – and Cameron will score yet more points.

Brown will continue to perfect the unique skill that he has developed over the last two years by driving yet more nails into his own coffin.

p.s. McBride wanted embarrasing photos. Here’s one:

 

VAT are you saying?

Alistair the house elf

This Government and the banks have a lot in common. They have both enjoyed many years of negligible economic turbulence and  zero competition.

The good times may have continued if either had noticed that Wall Street had invented the real weapons of mass destruction – the financial ones. The banks had sliced, chopped, diced and mixed bad mortgages and fashioned them into contaminative instruments of death with a built-in time fuse.

The bankers’ handiwork has created a vast financial Black Hole which has already consumed many financial institutions and is beginning to consume whole economies. So  what to do? It’s obvious – decrease VAT by 2.5%.

Decrease VAT? The Government has shown once again that it is a bit short on creative ideas. It often uses short-term tactics to deal with strategic matters. On this occasion, it is in the vain hope that when the global economy returns to sunshine and wealth , the Government  will will be able to claim that it  had controlled events. Gordon “Canute” Brown and his house elf  Darling will have done it!

(In reality it will have simply been a readjustment in the new global Stability-Chaos-Stability cycle). 

But think about this: The global economic crisis is happening because of “external forces which are out of our control”. If that is the case and we truly have no control over super-macroeconomic events, gestures such as VAT-tweaks will have negligible impact. Even Mervyn King appears to be distancing himself from this initiative.

Gordon Brown is indeed a one-trick pony who believes that the only way forward is to persuade the consumer to consume. However, he will not pull the economy out of the quicksand by persuading us to buy 42″ television sets and new cars. When the going gets tough, the tough buy food and clothing.

By pulling the white rabbit of higher taxation out of the Budget hat for those earning more than £100K, he has appealed to the “not-so-rich” (are we allowed to say “poor”) with a touch of the old “Politics of Envy”.  We can almost hear Denis Healey  “squeezing the rich until the pips squeak” .  Let’s call it Gordon’s “hommage” to Old Labour.

In the next few years, the pips will squeak but the fact that there will be a saving of £12.50 on a £500 TV set will not dampen the squeaks.

One that is wearingly dull, repetitive, or tedious.

glass.jpg

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is
half empty. To the accountant, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

 

There are so many unfair jokes which poke fun at accountants.

Here are some more:

An accountant had just read the story of Cinderella to his four-year-old daughter for the first time. The little girl was fascinated by the story, especially the part where the pumpkin turned into a golden coach.

The accountant concluded the story: ” Of course, when the pumpkin turned into a golden coach, that would have been classified as income but if it had lasted any length of time it would have been a long-term capital gain which of course would have been depreciated out over several years?”

………………………………..

A businessman had been learning to be a balloonist and took his first solo flight. Unfortunately the wind got up, he was blown off course and forced to land. He landed in a paddock close to a road but had no idea where he is.

He saw a car coming along the road and hailed it. The driver got out and the balloonist said, “Hello there, can you tell me where I am?’

“Yes, of course”, said the motorist. “You have just landed in your balloon and with this wind you have obviously been blown off course. You are in the top paddock on John Dawson’s farm, 13.5 kilometres from Melton Mowbray which is in Leicestershire. John will be ploughing the paddock next week and sowing wheat. There is a bull in the paddock. It is behind you and about to attack you.”

At that moment the bull reached the balloonist and tossed him over the fence. Luckily he was unhurt. He got up, dusted himself off and said to the motorist, “I see you’re an accountant”.

“Good Grief”, said the other man, “you’re right. How did you know that?”

“I employ accountants”, said the balloonist. “The information you gave me was detailed, precise and accurate. Most of it was useless and it arrived far too late to be of any help.”

………………………………..

Those little stories above are typical of the jokes that one hears about accountants. What is it about accountants? Dull, unimaginative, anally-retentive, boring are just some of the more pleasant adjectives applied to this bean-counting sub-species of Homo Sapiens. 

Accountants are the French Letters on the Pricks of Progress  is my particular favourite.

I have a relative who used to employ an accountant. He always asked the accountant for advice and then did the exact opposite. He retired several years ago with £5 million in the bank.

Spygun has acquired an unfair reputation for accountant-bashing, so here we go again…….

I have always wondered what makes someone want to become an accountant. When does a youngster realise that he wants to spend the rest of his life reciting “Every debit has a credit”.

Does he make that decision when he realises that he doesn’t have the charisma to suceed as an  undertaker? Is it a personality thing?

They say that an extroverted accountant is one who stares at your shoes instead of his own and that he uses his personality for birth control  – and if you ever want to drive an accountant insane here is what you do: Tie him to a chair and make him watch as you fold up a road map the wrong way.

Jokes such as the following one do nothing to enhance the accountants’ reputation:

A lady went to see her doctor with some worrying symptoms and he examined her.

“I’m sorry,” he said”but it’s bad news. You have only six months to live.”

The distraught woman cried , “Oh Doctor. That’s terrible. What should I do?”

The doctor says, “I advise you to marry an accountant.”

“Will that make me live longer?”

“No,” says the doctor. “But it will seem longer.”

So what can we do  to stop this disgraceful accountant abuse?

NOTHING.

The following notes were to appear on our Management Training website but in the spirit of wishing to share new and interesting techniques – here are a few ways with which to deal with an accountant – should you be unlucky enough to be engaged in conversation with one – for instance at a stamp collecting club or line dancing class:

Blink wildly and then close your eyes really tight for an interesting light show
(Amusement Potential: 1-5 minutes)
See a variety of blobs, stars and flashes. Try to make out shapes and see if your subconscious is trying to send you a message 

See how long you can hold a note
(Amusement Potential: 4-20 minutes)
Not that much fun, but it passes the time. Try to beat your own personal best. Inhale deeply and then try and make a noise for as long as you can. Earn extra points for making the accountant laugh  – (No chance!)


 Try to not think about penguins
(Amusement Potential: 1-5 minutes)
This is especially hard, because by trying too much, you remember what you were trying to avoid thinking of. If you try too little, you end up thinking about penguins anyway.

Use your secret mind power
(Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes)
Pick a passer- by and try to use your mind power to command them do something, like drop their bag or knock into someone. The law of averages dictates that sooner or later one of your mind commands will come true, so you can convince yourself that you really have super human powers and waste even more time trying them out.

Pretend you’re a robot
(Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes)
Walk , trying to copy the accountant’s  mechanical movements, adding ‘zzzzzt’ sounds with each motion. Pretending to have a motor broken in, say, your left hand can add at least 30 seconds more entertainment.

Scratch yourself
(Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes)
Go ahead, scratch yourself now. Even if nothing itches, go ahead. Doesn’t that feel pretty good?

Rate his appearance(Amusement Potential: 10-15 minutes)
Award the accountant marks out of ten  for sartorial elegance offering (unsaid) expert criticism over his clothing  (grey or blue), hairstyle ( bald or side-parting) and footwear ( black) choices.
Repeat the same word over and over until it loses its meaning
(Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes)
Try  to pick a random word from the  “accountant’s drone” that you are listening to and say it aloud to yourself until it becomes a meaningless set of noises. We call that “empathising” with an accountant.

Pinch yourself
(Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes)
What is pain? Why is it unpleasant? There’s nothing physical about it – it’s all in your mind. Plus, after pinching yourself for a while, boredom will seem nice next to being in pain.

Try to swallow your tongue
(Amusement Potential: 1-2 minutes)
There’s not much to say about this one. It is possible, but really stupid.

Pretend to be a car
(Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes)
Make appropriate revving noises in your head as you walk along and add a racing commentary as you pass strangers in the street. Use blinking eyes as indicators for extra authenticity.  If you leave the accountant standing while you do this, you will be able to pick up on the conversation on your return. He won’t notice your absence anyway.

Make Star Trek door noises
(Amusement Potential: 1-2 minutes)
Stand by an electric door to a bank or something and make that silly “Scccccccchwop” sound heard whenever people popped on to the bridge to hang with Captain Kirk.

Look at something for awhile, shut eyes, study the after-image
(Amusement Potential: 2-5 minutes)
Another great time waster. It takes about 30 seconds of staring to create an after image, and the image is then viewable for about the same length of time. Fun to combine this one with pushing on your eyes.

Get yourself as nauseated as possible
(Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes)
Best achieved by looking straight up and spinning around. Try to be so dizzy you can’t even stand up. This is also entertaining due to the “makes boredom seem a lot better” effect (see “Hurt Yourself”).

Invent a weird twitch
(Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes)
Adopt a bizarre twitch (e.g. flicking your head irregularly, twitching with eye or making sporadic coughing noises). 
 

Make a low buzzing noise
(Amusement Potential: 15-30 minutes)
Hours of fun ! Keeping a totally straight face and looking nonchalant, make a low pitch humming/buzzing noise and see if the accountant  reacts. He won’t.

And finally………………….How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?
“Hmmm……..I’ll just do a few numbers and get back to you.”

Office Politics 8 – The Boss Part 2

 A junior from the accounts department sends your Expense Claim form back to you with a note indicating the discrepancy  of 1p between the Happy Eater invoice that you submitted  and your claim . His rather supercilious memo  indicates that the appropriate adjustment should be made  and the form resubmitted. You change the entry on the Claim form and then resubmit it. It comes back another  week later accompanied by a memo from the same accounts junior saying that you omitted to enclose the 50p “Pay and Display” parking ticket which you claimed for. 

At this point, you are having an informal chat with your Boss and he asks you about the self-same junior Accounts clerk.   “ What do you think of young Smith in Accounts?” Admit it – you are tempted to say “ He is a tosser and if he sends my Expenses back just one more time, I shall rip his head off !”  Wrong!

Why did your Boss ask about  Smith in Accounts? There could be several reasons – Smith may have mentioned your sloppiness to his Boss who may have mentioned it to yours.  You may have phoned Smith and conveyed that you have an attitude to junior Accountants and Smith may have complained. Your Boss may have identified Smith as a likely transfer into your Department. Young Smith may be known personally to your Boss. 

Remember, engage your brain before opening your mouth.What you should say to your Boss is “ Smith?  Oh! Well, in my dealings with him, I have always found that he likes things to be right.  A real details man!” Your Boss asks you about the airhead bimbo in Marketing – the one in the miniskirt, 39DD chest and brain between her legs. “ What do you think of little Debbie in Marketing?”  Phrases containing words such as “Rat,drainpipe and up”, “ Give her one”, “Outhouse door in the wind” and “ shag” immediately spring to mind and should be immediately discarded.  Again, your response should be non-committal or, better still pre-empt whatever you feel tempted to say with the phrase “ Why do you ask?” Your  Boss may have screwed the unfortunate Debbie and is fishing to find out what the office grapevine is saying. He may feel that Debbie with her Marketing Degree from Keele University  might have  a place in your Department. He may have found out that you have screwed Debbie. Debbie may have asked for a transfer. She may even be your Boss’s daughter. Beware! If you are Debbie and you are reading this, the advice is that it is OK to flirt with your Boss and maybe to have a drink with him.  However , if you wish to maintain career momentum within the current organisation, keep your knickers on. Do not be misled into believing that screwing your Boss can have a positive effect on your career – very much the opposite. They rarely leave their wives and you will become an embarrassment!       “ I feel that I can really talk to you!”  “ I’ve never felt like this about anyone”,  “ Of course I’ll still respect you” “ My wife and I are only together for the sake of the children” , “ I don’t believe in one-night stands either”  “ I feel different when I’m with you” “ I love you”  “ I wish that we’d met years ago” and similar inventions  work surprisingly often.  They are all lies.Never ever put yourself in a position whereby anyone senior to you shares his fears or problems with you – especially your Boss. If your Boss is having problems with his wife, girlfriend , boyfriend or all three, it is none of your business and  you will be a marked employee. As the journalist said “ I made my excuses and left”

Office Politics 7 – The Boss

        Your progress as an office politician is dependant on how you  get on with the people around you. Unfortunately, no matter how popular you are with them, their contribution to your blitz through the organisation is small compared to the leg-up that you can be given by your Boss. 

 

“ God created man in his own image” has been true for several thousand years now and it certainly applies to how individuals are chosen by managers. Therefore, if your Boss is a tosser and it was he who hired you, the odds are that you are also a tosser. The converse is also true.

 

It is a peculiar psychology, but there are few individuals who will select someone who can be a potential danger to them in the medium to short term. It is therefore extremely important that you do not ever allow your Boss to have the impression that you are a threat to him. Your Boss will have surrounded himself with substantial comfort zones and it is up to you to respect those.

 

For example, your Boss says “Computers. Pah! They are just tools . Don’t believe in them!  Garbage in -garbage out. I’m not keen on them myself! People become slaves to them!”

 

What a wonderful opportunity! It is immediately apparent to you that your Boss is a technophobe – the sort of Boss who is frightened to even touch the keyboard. If you are a total prat and believe that your Boss has just handed you a wonderful opportunity to belittle him, think again!  There are many Bosses who are dinosaurs  and the last thing that you should attempt is to make your Boss feel inadequate.

 Words like INTERNET ,RAM, ROM, WYSIWYG, DOS,WINDOWS, VISTA IS CRAP etc. are a mystery to him.. Simple phrases such as “ I shall need another 5 gigs to run that application” or “ The low-power standby mode is invoked through the driver software.” are to be avoided.

There are a few words that your Boss knows and they tend to be the following: “ SOFTWARE – although he will not be sure what it is.  DOWNLOADING – that’s an obvious one. FLOPPY DISC – although he is still wondering why it is called floppy because it used to feel hard and he does not know that we don’t use them anymore. “MAINFRAME” is a good one because it is a word he used to hear at meetings and it sounded so Macho. Stick to those words and if your Boss uses any of them incorrectly, ignore it.

 

Never ever attempt to display your vast knowledge of Computers to  your Boss. It is the equivalent to a young baboon showing its very colourful hindquarters to the grey, toothless , old, debilitated  and not-so-brightly endowed elder. The old baboon will regard you as a threat to his territory. Allow him to wallow in the misty (largely imaginary and second-hand) memories of  “ I remember when a computer like the one on your desk was half the size of this room”. He probably was not even aware of computers when they were that size, but, what the hell……

 

Computers are important  in the political hierarchy. I have seen Managing Directors order Personal Computers for themselves and their staff according to the Hard Disc  and screen Sizes.

       Do not criticise your Boss to your Colleagues. He will find out. Certainly do not criticise your Boss to his  face. “ I like  a man who speaks his mind” is a lie. It is the biggest management lie. It is up there with ” Of course I’ll let go of your ears” and ” I will still respect you in the morning”  – (and the other one).No-one likes anyone who speaks his mind.  There are lots of failed executives who spoke their mind and who keep on speaking their mind. They ALWAYS end up working for someone 20 years younger than themselves.

Even if your Boss asks you what you think of a colleague and your colleague is a complete waste of space and he puts a Spermatograph off-scale, look for positive things to say.

DO NOT SPEAK YOUR MIND. Plenty of time for that when you are running the place.

TO BE CONTINED…..

Office Politics 6 The first day

Congratulations, you got it. Legally  people can get rid of you with in the first few months without even a verbal warning, so continue to behave yourself for at least that long . The first day is crucial. You are now creating a first impression.  At this very first appearance no actual work is required but let that not make you too complacent.

 

You are still being observed and assessed but this time it is by your workmates. You want to appear modest, friendly and a team player. How do you do that ?

 

People will be curious about you.  They  have asked about you, talked about you and have already formed their own ideas about you.  You want to set their minds at rest that you are no threat ( even if you  are). Smile a lot, appear relaxed, crack the occasional clean joke.

 

Why? Because you have to work with these people. You are joining their team, you are the intruder, even if you are the Boss.  Any change unsettles people. They will be asking:  Why is he here? Why didn’t I get his job? How will  my job change? Will we like him?

 

You must get rid of their doubts on that very first day. You have to remember that you are the new boy or girl, whatever your rank. Lets say you are a reasonably junior person and there are two of you in the department and a third is hired. On his first day the new boy lets slip that he has a first class Honours degree. You are not going to like him. Let people find out about you gradually. Ask them about themselves, be interested in them . They are certainly interested in you and will discover all of your past achievements without you saying a word.

 

Do not try to impress people. If you say : “Hi, I’m Fred,” they will like you. Suppose that you offer : “ Hello, I’m the Rt. Hon. Dr. Frederick Dickweed MP, PhD.” Although  they should be impressed they will think you are a wanker, and no amount of subsequent bridge-building will ever change that opinion.

 

People couldn’t care less about what you have achieved in the past. You went to public school? So what? It’s what you do now that counts.

 

Don’t be hung up on the trappings of status.  The size of your desk, the proximity of your parking slot to your desk,  the number of filing cabinets, the big leather chair,  they are not important. Too much emphasis on the size of things suggests a little willy complex.

 

Be a big boy, just get on with it. One of the first things that will happen to you after you are shown your desk is that you will  be taken on a whistle-stop tour  of the photo-copier, the coffee machine, the toilets, canteen and finally you will meet some staff. It gives everyone a chance to look at you and although you are not expected to remember everybody’s name . Try to (immediately) memorise the names of all those who will be working with you in your group or department.

       Low key , modest and approachable are good.  Full-on, oleaginous, creepy and immodest are bad.

Office Politics 5 – The Personnel Manager

This is the one man (or woman) with far more power than his lowly status would suggest. He can make or break you.  Treat him as if he runs the place, he very often thinks he does.  The American version  has evolved into a very different animal to his typically British counterpart. Be aware of this if you are joining a US company because another approach is required.

Your Brit is probably an expressive with a sociology degree, whereas the Yank  has a Masters degree in Business Administration and Human Resources is run as a corporate power-base rather than a homeopathic counselling session. 

Or to put it another way, one  strokes bunny rabbits the other one eats them for breakfast – including the fur. 

Office Politics 4 – The Interview

There was never a truer saying than  “ You only get one chance to create a first impression. “ Make it a good one. Dress the part. Men, if you have a suit, wear it, but only if it is less than 15 years old. Avoid woollies under the jacket as in Mr Nelson Mandela  and pens in the breast pocket are definitely outré. Women, dress smartly, avoid showing too much cleavage unless the Boss is a known sex-maniac and then think seriously  about whether you really want the job.    Make-up is a must, but this is a job interview not a night at the disco. Keep it to a minimum. Men, stay off it altogether – it could send out the wrong signal. Your first, and hopefully only, physical contact with the interviewer will be the handshake. Make it firm. Make it warm. Cold hands signal stress.  Wild enthusiasm is to  be discouraged. There is no need to rip the interviewers arm out of its socket. He will not thank you for it.  “ Hello John, how’s it hanging” is not the correct form of address.  Stick to “How do you do,” which is.                 The hand that you will be shaking will probably belong to someone from the personnel department. A few words about the personnel manager and how he fits into the company may be helpful. Do not underestimate his importance.  The personnel manager knows most of the gossip, he knows  what is going on , he knows where the bodies are buried and eventually he will know  all of your secrets.  LOVE him . Cherish him. Begin to form and cement your relationship with this VIP of the office world. Rule number one: there is no such thing as an “off the record” conversation.  Whatever you say to the personnel manager,  assume that it  will go straight back to the Boss.  This can also work to your advantage, more about that later.At this stage you are just about to sit down for the interview. However, some companies  will already have asked you to take  a psychometric test.  As these are becoming more  prevalent, a word of caution.  You may need to cheat and here is how it is done. You are either putting yourself up as a go-getting achiever ready for responsibility or a figure-loving accountant. We all know people who belong in either group.Look at the job you want and  slip into the skin of someone who will fit the bill. If it’s dynamism they’re after, imagine yourself as the chairman of ICI and do the test as he would. Equally, if  its a clerk’s post then  think of the guy you know at the bottom of the pile and BE  him.   It’s not safe to be yourself unless you are totally confident you are what is wanted. Beware – some tests have catch questions in them, so it is important to be consistent. The psychometric test is important because if it is taken before the interview the personnel manager will have the results in front of him and he will be expecting certain questions to be answered in the appropriate way.   If you pretended that you were the chairman of ICI when you did the test keep acting the part and answer the questions as he would. Don’t waffle. Don’t be scared of the silences. It’s a technique to make you talk.  Say what you need to say and shut up.Body  language also talks. Your interviewer may be trained to look for all sorts of visual clues.  He can tell if you are lying, or unsure .  The rule is keep your hands away from your face at all times.  A tweak of the nose or rub of the ear will tell him you are fibbing on a grand  scale. Sit comfortably.  Don’t hug yourself. You need to look relaxed and open. Maintain eye contact whenever you are speaking . This is especially important when answering a difficult or personal question. If you find this awkward try concentrating on the space between the interviewer’s eyes.Remember, it’s a case of “ I would very much like this job, but it isn’t the end of the world if I  don’t “ i.e., never appear desperate.  Like the woman who formed her lips into a perfect O and said: “ I would do ANYTHING for this job “  She only succeeded in scaring the pants off the interviewer who promptly showed her the door.When YOU get to the door, be wary. This is often the time the interviewer or his assistant will offer to accompany you to the lift. Your guard is down and you blab, blab, blab. Remember, the interview is only over when you are alone at last and ready for a well-earned pint –  only to be partaken of AFTER the event, never before.

Office Politics 3 – Your CV bits and pieces

A professional reading your CV knows that because you have produced a document which is supposed to market you, there will be exaggerations and perhaps some downright lies. There is little harm in amplifying say, the importance and responsibilities of your previous job(s) but if you are going to lie about your qualifications, be careful. A few GCSEs here or there makes little difference because no-one ever checks.  Just be careful when claiming a PhD or Nobel Prize or something that definitely will be checked. Some companies are in the habit of carrying out personnel audits which means that from time to time, they will pull out a few staff files and go through them with a fine tooth comb. What could be more embarrassing than having to show that your degree was only a pass and not the 2-1 that you have on your CV or that three jobs ago you were not the Sales Director but just a bad self-employed salesman.

A word about gaps. The prospective boss is looking for holes in your past work history. If you have been unemployed or in prison, avoid old chestnuts such as “holiday in Australia” or “travelling round the world”. Top people have seen a few places and if you claim to be well-travelled be prepared for questions.

Make your CV seamless, join the edges up by omitting to mention the exact month that you left. You will be asked “Why did you leave?” NEVER ever claim a “clash of personalities” That means that you are an awkward pig who cannot get on with anybody. Instead, be positive and express regret at having had to leave. Say that you went for more responsibility, more salary. ” I was headhunted.” and ” I was asked to join” are both ace replies that you can get away with.

If you were fired and the company which fired you is on your CV, be careful. Employers are very careful not to put anything vaguely libelous on a reference but I can tell you that your new employer will  pick up the phone and speak to your former boss or personnel department and have an “off the record” conversation. Be warned.

The Golden Rule is ALWAYS keep a copy of your CV – unless you have been totally truthful.

Office Politics 2 – Your CV hobbies

You can’t wait until middle management to learn about office politics because they start NOW – on day one. In fact, even before that. Your CV is the beginning, so let us start with that.

The CV is designed to show you in the best possible light. Your prospective employer sees it as a statement of fact but to you it is a marketing document – even a sales pitch.

Either get the CV done professionally but certainly use a PC and a decent printer. No battered old Remingtons. White paper is best – steer clear of pastel shades. Write it by hand and they will bin it. Keep it to a maximum of two pages.

Remember that everything that you put on your CV will travel with you for the rest of your career – so be careful. Here are a couple of examples. If, for instance, you list Venture Scout as one of your pastimes, it does not suggest ruggedness and leadership – it suggests PRAT. Other things that may place you in the “Prat” category: Trekkie (Star Trek fan), most “collecting”, e.g. stamps, matchboxes, bus tickets etc. They all suggest a likelihood of incorrect potty-training rather than diligence, neatness and attention to detail. So, unless you are applying for a job in Accounts, leave them out. However, collecting antiques or classic cars is fine.

If you are a man, hobbies on your CV such as cooking or darts will immediately tell the personnel manager that you are a drunk. Women must avoid cuddly toy collecting, knitting, line dancing or synchronised swimming – they all suggest boring, frustrated and Crimplene-wearing : usually all three. Ladies, do not describe yourselves as “bubbly”. That just means fat. Slim women are not bubbly. GSOH just means “gagging for it” and over-familiar.

“Reading” or “travel” implies no hobbies at all.

All of the above can mark you out as a pillock rather than a go-getting executive. Do not lie about your hobbies on your CV because Sod’s law says that you will come up against an interviewer who knows the subject intimately.

I remember one unhappy job-seeker claimed to be a Karate expert, not realising that the interviewer was a second Dan black belt. Close questioning revealed many shortcomings and the sweating individual departed a sadder and wiser man, never again to take liberties with the martial arts.

Never underestimate the importance of your hobbies. They have several simple functions. To make you look a reasonably interesting and rounded human being and to show the prospective interviewer that you are a team  player as well as an individualist.

Good combinations are golf and cricket, choir singing and hang-gliding, drama and swimming.

Do avoid pistol-shooting, collecting knives, breeding Rottweilers, playing GTA, bungee-jumping and sky-diving. You may think that they sound make you sound adventurous or interesting. To the prospective employer, they spell “only child”, “nutter” and “bottle-fed”.

You may choose to discuss some of these activities at the interview but if you put them on your CV, you may be limiting your chances of obtaining that interview.

Office Politics 1

You may be asking yourself whether it is fair that in the corporate jungle, your considerable education, integrity, knowledge and skills can count for less than factors such as your appearance, the way you speak and your general political acumen. It is not fair. However, while you are up there in the sunshine, swinging through the green canopy of the corporate forest towards the big tree of superstardom, you are being overtaken by slimeballs in the undergrowth who are far less able that you – but who know all the shortcuts to the big tree. You want to get to the top? Big salary? Posh car? Personal assistant? HUGE office? Company charge card? All these things can be yours if you know what the rules are. It does not matter whether you have an Oxford double-first or whether you have a pass degree in Media Studies from the newly-created University of Craptown. You can be a winner. I am not telling you that you are playing on a level playing field (you’re NOT) – but I will show you where the shortcuts are. You were not born an office politician but you can learn. This is the part one of a series of posts which will show you how to shaft, slime, cheat, grovel and trick your way to the top. Never mind the high-fliers – you are taking the low road. Remember: Eagles may soar but weasels do not get sucked into jet engines.