So! For the class of 2011, here. With my compliments.
HOW TO BE A MEGA-HELPFUL PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYEE AT YOUR FIRST JOB AND MAKE SUCH A GOOD IMPRESSION THAT THEY WILL ALMOST IMMEDIATELY MOVE YOU UP TO SUPERVISOR, THEN BOSS, THEN GRAND MASTER OVERLORD POOBAH
1. Take whatever you want from wherever you want. It’s your right, you’re entitled to it, you need it, and dammit, you’re special! Didn’t your parents drum that into your head all while you were growing up? Example: you are stapling, and your stapler runs out of staples. You have a full box of staples in your desk, but filling a stapler, well, that’s for mooks and peons! Your co-worker across the way has a stapler! It is full of staples! TAKE IT. You deserve it! I mean, it’s not like he’s using it or will ever use it, right? Or, you need an envelope. And you’re out of them. But your co-worker has a bunch on top of her desk. Take one. Hell, take them all. She’ll get more! It’s obvious she has nothing better to do than to refill her envelope supply. She’s going nowhere fast, while you, my friend? You are on the FAST TRACK TO THE TOP. You can’t get there without using your grabby hands to your full advantage.
2. Take a lesson from toddlers: when you’re done with something, drop it like it’s hot and walk away. Remember that stapler you borrowed above? You don’t have time to walk it two steps over to the desk you borrowed it from. You are a BUSY BEE. You have PLACES TO GO and TASKS TO COMPLETE. Drop that stapler wherever you stand and MOVE ON. You’re on the ladder to success, my friend! Keep a’climbin’! No time for tidying up when you’re on the ladder to the stars! You know what they call people that clean up, don’t you? MAINTENANCE STAFF. And you didn’t go to college to be Groundskeeper Willie, no sir, not you. So leave that stapler wherever. I suggest somewhere no one would ever look for it, say, behind the X’s in the file room, or on top of the refrigerator in the break room. Take the only pen from the sign-in desk and drop it behind the copier where it’s irretrievable, and forget it ever happened. Finish the paper towels? Don’t you dare refill the dispenser. Overflow the toilet? Too bad, losers. You’re really too busy to care, and there are shinier rings to reach for.
3. Repeat after me: “it is not my problem.” You loaded your assistant up with a metric ton of work at the end of the day and she told you weeks ago she has to leave on time for once today but you need it before she walks out the door? “It is not my problem.” You forgot to tell someone working on a team with you about a sensitive email you received and it reflected badly on them, but you came off looking smelling like a rose (and/or Axe body spray?) “It is not my problem.” Your secretary has laryngitis and can’t come to work today but you don’t have anyone else to answer your phones because you forgot to train anyone else? “Get in here. That is not my problem.” It’s a state of emergency and the radio’s telling people to get home because they’re going to start shutting down the roads due to the gigantic snowstorm outside and you have employees waiting for your go-ahead to leave? “Too bad, we have work that needs to be done today. It is not my problem.” Don’t you just feel more powerful even saying the phrase? More barrel-chested, manly/womanly, strong, virile, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? It’s a power phrase. It’s a mantra. I suggest saying it at least once a day, and making sure it’s said in a situation where tears are most likely to result, therefore tipping the scales even more in your favor.
4. Practice condescension and braggery wherever possible. Who cares if these two things make your co-workers shy away from you? You’re catching the eyes of the big boys. There’s no crying in baseball and there are no friendships on the way to the top of the heap. Really, there’s just you, and the garbage. You don’t want to be garbage, do you? WHO WANTS TO BE GARBAGE? Not you, that’s who. Then use one of these, or a combination of them, or something similar to them, adjusted for your particular situation, at least once a day:
“I was at my vacation home on the lake the other day, thinking about taking my boat out for a spin, when my supermodel wife came up to me and told me no man had ever fulfilled her like I do. How was your weekend?”
“I just spent your year’s salary on this tie. No, seriously. You won’t be getting paid this year. What’s good in the vending machine today? My, but those SunChips look tasty! But all I have is this $100. Do you have a dollar in quarters I could borrow?”
“Your hair looks really…interesting today. Did you see that in a magazine? Was it Popular Mechanics? I get mine cut by a swami in Tibet. It costs $1,000 a snip but the results are, I think we can both agree, worth the price.”
“Did I see you at Walmart this weekend? No, ha ha, I wasn’t at Walmart. I was driving by in my Cadillac, chuckling richly at the plebeians. I do that for kicks sometimes. You all look like little ants to me, up there in my Cadillac. Ants, shuffling around the parking lot. Zombie ants. Do you like my ring? It’s the Pope’s. I just had to have it, and when he realized who I was, he just handed it over. It was a wise choice.”
5. Eye contact - it’s not recommended. Don’t make it. It just makes your underlings think they “know” you, and that you’re “relatable.” And do you want that? Really? No. No, you don’t. Always look just over their head and to the left a little. Like you’re looking past them for someone that’s more interesting and important to talk to. Or like you’re looking into your future. If your backstory is that you’re looking into your future, smile a little, vaguely. Because your future is bright. Really, really bright. And they need to know that, so they’ll be properly jealous.
6. Don’t return phone calls or tell people where you’ll be. This is an important one. If you return phone calls or tell people where you are, it implies you are not busy. And everyone knows, the most successful people in the business world are those you are unable to reach or make an appointment with. So leave at 10am on a Tuesday. Don’t tell your secretary where you’re going. Drift back in around 3pm, and when you see you have a number of voice mail messages, just ignore them. When your secretary tells you the callers are calling back, irate there’s no callback, just smile and nod and say you’re unavailable. Eventually, the callers will start yelling at the secretary, because callers always assume it’s the secretary’s fault they’re not getting through. That’s what you want. You’ve got your clients in the palm of your hand, now. Wait a few days, and THEN call them back. They’re going to feel special. Like they are the only one in the universe, because you, very special, busy you, took the time to call them back. You made them feel like a special snowflake. Congratulations! (Note: This is exhausting work, which will require that you take more time off to relax.)
7. Take away happiness. The time for happiness is not in the office. Do your employees enjoy chatting? Separate them. Do you employees enjoy surfing the net? Take away their internet access. Do you your employees enjoy making personal calls? Take away phone privileges. Do your employees enjoy having a cigarette? Turn your entire office area, inside and out, into a smoke free zone. If they complain, ask them if they enjoy their paychecks. They should say yes. If not, well, there’s the door. We don’t need whiners here. Only winners. (See what I did there? Wordplay. It’s what winners do.)
8. What to do when an employee asks for a raise. This is a touchy subject, so I’ll break it down for you. The employee will come to you for a raise with some sob story about “cost of living increases” or “medical bills” or “mother with dementia” or “inability to buy groceries.” Pretend to listen; what they’re saying really isn’t important. What they’re doing is begging. And what do we do with beggars? We don’t give in. That’s like negotiating with terrorists. First, tell the employee everything they’ve done wrong over the past year. Even if it’s not true. Keep it vague: some employees fancy themselves investigators and will ferret out the source of the complaints like little gumshoes. Say things like “there have been complaints about your work ethic…” and trail off. Vague, and sort of worrisome. Look stern. Say “I think we both agree you could be giving a little more.” This is vague enough to cover a lot of ground. Once you’ve made up some things about the filthy beggar, tell them, in your best “I really empathize with your plight” voice (you might want to practice this in front of the mirror first, as there’s no way you can empathize with a poor person so you run the risk of coming off like a robot who just learned human speech) say “I’m sorry we’re not able to increase your pay at this time, but let’s revisit this conversation sometime in the near future. You’re a valuable asset to our team, Tammy.” (Note: please don’t quote this verbatim unless the employee’s name is really Tammy. For some reason, it really irks underlings when you can't remember their names.) The employee, now disheartened and possibly starving to death, will wander back to their cubicle, and you are free! To celebrate, ask Tammy to book you lunch at the most expensive restaurant in town, and when you get back, make sure she types up your expense report. She’ll really appreciate seeing how much a winner spends on lunch, and it will give her something to aspire to.
9. Remember: shit rolls downhill for a reason. This is a saying I like to tell young people just starting out. Shit rolls downhill. It is a metaphor. Well, unless you really didn’t report that stopped-up bathroom and your restrooms are uphill from your office. But that’s not your problem, winner! Which, anyway, is why you want to be uphill. Also, make sure to treat those below you poorly, and they will pass it down and down and down and DOWN until it all rests on the shoulders of the lowest man or woman on the totem pole – and that person deserves it, because that person just DID NOT TRY HARD ENOUGH AND IS A TOTAL LOSER. No room for less than shining stars here!
This is not an all-inclusive list, but it’s enough to get you started. You’re on your way to the top, baby! Nothing’s going to stop you! And once you’re King Shit of Turd Mountain and lord of all you survey, look around. Isn’t the view from the top nice? Isn’t it nice to be king? Fancy? Yes. Yes, it is. You are so welcome. Remember, it all starts with you – don’t be afraid of success. And you can’t spell success without SUCK. Well, minus the K. But it’s not funny that way.