Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seduction in the workplace: how to get ahead at work

How to get ahead at work without resorting to giving heads. This came up in my conversations with a friend and then a recent surge of blog entries on how to get a raise at work, how to get promoted, etc. I've "worked" at white-collar jobs all my life so you might need to adapt this to your work situation.

The reality is that almost any work environment is rife with internal politics, struggles for dominance, and basically, the battlefield for modern tribal (office) warfare. Setting aside the issue that our performance is rarely if ever get evaluated objectively. When people interact, their reality is shaped subjectively by their perceptions. So expecting our boss to evaluate us objectively, just because so-and-so is getting paid at such a rate, and since we are doing the same work if not more, we should get compensated at the same rate is a silly, pointless, and definitely ineffective argument with our boss. That's the number one mistake that people make. They expect objective measurement of their work and get rewards based on merits, just as if they were in school even though workplaces are nothing like schools!

Some might suggest that we should take the initiative to start projects, go the distance, and do more than what your boss asked for or expected us to. That's a great idea, until you encounter a superior who thrives on criticizing and belittling their subordinates; you know the type, the kiss-up and kick-down middle managers. Rather than crying fouls and giving in, the trick to deal with them is simple, make them feel important and give them the illusion of power without giving up our own. Sure, we can start a new project. Rather than telling them about it and expecting them to praise us, we get them involved by giving them small tasks to gain compliance, then slowly turn them into our subordinates.

Most middle managers want to be involved into everything, because they don't want to be left out and they usually become managers because they thrive on controlling people. We have to start with the basic premise that if we are to get a raise and/or a promotion, we have to do more than what they asked of us, but instead of just showing them our results, we give them menial tasks that are of no consequence, however, we sell them on the idea that they too are making a difference. This way, I have effectively bypassed their managerial duties of approving or rejecting what I do because I presume what I do is important and critical to our overall success. Two, I don't appear needy in seeking their praise. Three, they feel important because they are involved and not feel left out. Finally, we slowly and gradually make them dependent on what we do and turn power dynamics in our favor.

That, my friends, is how to get ahead at work. We do more than what they ask, we don't turn around and expect immediate rewards for our efforts, rather than waiting for approval, we get everyone else involved, including our boss. Of course, there are details on what kind of projects, when to start them, how to present them, and market them to a greater community.

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