Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Office Politics 101

I have a college degree, meaning I spent at least four years of my life learning the skills and knowledge it takes to make it in the real world.

The only problem is they never taught me how to really make it in the real world. I only learned useless junk like how to do a cost –benefit analysis, how to read a balance sheet and how to price an item in high demand.

Fascinating, I know, but none of those skills are in any way valuable for someone looking to climb the corporate latter. Here are the classes that they should have offered:

1. Saying Yes to the Boss- Who hasn’t had a boss lean back and thoughtfully say something insane like, “You know…we really ought to start chasing our customers with pitchforks.”?

Wouldn’t it have been nice to take a course that prepared you for that? A course designed to help you learn to not burst out laughing or not blurt out “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.”?

I could’ve used that course, anyway. Instead, the guy who “loves it” and “has a buddy in pitchforks” and “can get us a huge discount on pitchforks” gets all the attention now.

2. Integration of Buzz Words and Cliché- Nothing tells meeting attendees you know business like the following sentence:

“Going forward, I think we can get a better vision of this if we compare apples to apples. If we can capacitate creating a sort of outside the box thinking to initiate synergy for the customer, at the end of the day we’ll see a ripple effect on our future price points. Otherwise, it is what it is and someone ends up getting thrown under the bus.”

It took me years to master that sentence. Just think where I could be today if I learned it in one semester!

3. Feigning Interest –This course could focus on developing the ability to talk passionately about topics ranging from 17th century literature to early 90’s gangsta rap.

4. The Value of Putting in Extra Hours- How valuable this course could be! The professor could teach tricks like parking your car close to where you know your boss parks and making sure your car is there when they arrive and when they leave.

They could discuss ways to pass the time from closing time to about 25 minutes after so that you always leave later than everyone else.

Additionally, too many people have a naturally calm and happy outlook on life. The professor could emphasize the importance of a constant haggard look. A look that says, “Don’t come near me, I’ve got a gun! I’m so stressed out I can’t think straight. That’s what makes me such a good employee.”

Bosses respect that kind of wild-eyed craziness in their most trusted people.

5. Covering your Ass- No one wants to be THROWN UNDER THE BUS! This class would teach the basics of identifying scapegoats, avoiding too much commitment to an initiative with the potential to fail and documenting key conversations to use out of context at opportune times.

Conversely, the course could also discuss various methods for taking credit for work not done.

Hey, I know it is a long shot to get these courses accredited and into the Business Departments. At some point, though, students will demand universities do a better job preparing them for the real world.

Until then, however, we’ll have to massage the data while looking for a way to incentivize this initiative. If any of you find some low hanging fruit that I may have missed, shoot me an email or ping me and we will run with it.


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  2. Thanks for running this up the flagpole.

    I agree, our educational system needs to experience a paradigm shift as graduates are falling behind the curve and really need to be able hit the ground running in their search for workplace mentors.

    As business takes things to the next level, the elephant in the room is the poorly prepared business graduate.

    It’s not rocket science, we need to push the needle, the net net result needs to be better prepared workers.