If you have ever survived a degenerative work environment, you know that it takes more than will power to rise above petty company drama. Indeed, It takes an individual with acute corporate intelligence to artfully navigate around poor management or back-biting team mates. I believe that just as we have courses to teach you how to write resumes and cover letters there should be a program that will teach you how to get along with a tyrannical boss or lazy colleagues. Since I know of no such program, here is a crash course on how to hone your corporate intelligence
The psycho boss syndrome. I have a friend whose immediate supervisor was a descendant of Lucifer. She over worked her staff, and thanked them with temper tantrums. The environment was so toxic that people were afraid of taking a sick day for fear that they would be fired. Like my friend, they cried in the bathroom but suffered in silence because they needed the job. If you are in a job you cannot afford to lose and yet you cannot get a long with your boss, the onus is on you to reduce the tension. First, do your job well, and always ask your boss what more you can do. Secondly, adapt to their management style. If they micro manage, chances are they like to be in control so keep them informed and involved until THEY say “enough”. Do not resist their ‘new age’ changes. Follow their approach, but document everything. Thus if the outcome of their approach is disastrous, you have proof, and if the outcome is positively ground breaking, you are a pioneer.
Hold your peace. I learnt this the hard way. If you are an assertive person who is not afraid to speak their mind, I ask you to practice restraint. People will take advantage of your loose lips and begin to look to you as the voicebox for the team’s grievances. Beware of colleagues who have a lot to say in the lunch room but clamp up when the boss is around. You may love the role as spokesperson, but you will not love the role as scapegoat. Choose your battles and stand up only when you are willing to stand alone for the things that really matter.
When you feel like you deserve recognition or a raise, avoid the emotional highway but equip yourself with quantitative evidence to support your request. Find out If you have reached the limit of your pay band as it may be time to discuss a promotion to a new role. Never enter a meeting without a pen and paper, you may need to jot down an action plan. After the meeting, refer to your notes and send an email confirming what had been discussed during the meeting. Always be prepared but never in an arrogant way.
Get it in writing. I remember being fired from a job because the new manager got nervous about my work permit . Although the person who hired me had assured me that this was a non-issue, I did not get it in writing, so before my 90 day probation expired, they fired me. Word to the wise, if you have a sensitive situation, document how your employer has agreed to accommodate you.
Corporate intelligence requires that you abide by your company’s code of conduct. In this light, be mindful of how you use company time. Be cautious about what non-work related websites you visit on the company’s dime. When you are meeting or exceeding expectations, most employers are tolerant of the occasional personal phone call or Facebook update. It is when the use becomes excessive that you get into trouble. As redundant as this sounds, in the corporate world, there is no privacy, there is a trail for everything, so stick to the code of conduct.
Relationships with colleagues. Here is what nobody tells you. Much as you want to seperate your professional life from your personal life, the truth is , the more people know about you, the more comfortable they are around you. If you go to work like a robot, you will be treated as one. Now I am not advocating you tell your colleagues your blood type or your favourite sex position, but you need to find a safe and comfortable medium. The truly savvy ones know how to strike a neat balance between being open enough to be relatable, but guarded enough to be respected. In the same vein, before you judge your boss, get to know them. What professional pressure are they under? What personal demands are they facing? You don’t have to be a boot licker ,but get to know your boss as a human being and you will be surprised at how much you have in common.
Finally, when all else fails, leave on a good note. When you know it is your last day at work, don’t use it as an opportunity to throw spit balls at your computer screen and definitely don’t unleash your verbal vendetta onto your boss. Even when you have been unfairly treated, leave with your grace and dignity intact because you are an individual with corporate intelligence.