Occasionally I read articles that are collections of workplace tips. Perhaps 5 percent of these articles offer useful material, the remainder are poorly researched, use questionable photgraphic material and are filled with bleedin’ obvious advice that can only be useful to those who have never set foot in a workplace. (A 2005 MIT study reveals that of this group 75% will become undergraduate filmmakers of whom 95% will go on to make a short film about the soul-destroying nature of the workplace.)
With this in mind, I determined it was time for me to write my own poorly researched, generic workplace tips. So here goes.
5 Generic Workplace Tips
1. Dress Four Success
A 2007 study commissioned by the Australasian Institute of Fashion Design reveals that four is the correct number of items of apparel one should wear in an office workplace. This quartet should include some form of upper body covering, lower body covering and one or two items of underwear.
Obviously there is some give and take in this calculation. If you are adequately covered (ie no more than 10% total skin area visible) with just three items, then you may wish to make your fourth item a fascinator or some other form of natty chapeau. Gentlemen, please note that a trucker’s hat is not only unbearably passé but is unacceptable in any workplace that isn’t articulated and riding on 18 wheels.
2. Ill Communication
In his seminal 2005 work Incentovation: The Life and Death Of American Success, Peter F Mulroney recounts the tale of an CFO who insisted on addressing his colleagues with “What up, bitches?” This upset many of his co-workers and there was talk of a class action until happily the CFO died in an ultralight aircraft accident in Maine.
The most appropriate form of address in the workplace is “Hello,” this may be followed by the line: “Is it me you're looking for?” if one is riffing on the classic 1984 Lionel Richie hit song. If one isn’t doing this, the name of your co-worker is the next best choice.
3. Gleaming the Cube
Personalising one’s space is important. Especially if your space is a cubicle. Even the best one of these is little more than a reminder that you are some kind of corporate battery hen laying the caged eggs of commerce for The Man (see Soul-Destroying Workplaces in Undergraduate Filmmaking, Polemic Press, 1999).
Many of us like to bring a photograph from home. A framed portrait of your Significant Other and your children is a great addition to your space. After all, you are, in part, working your arse off in this miserable dump, for them. A portrait of your extra-marital shag is most inappropriate. It’s fun to brag, but a purse or wallet sized photograph is the way to go here. If you’re a member of Generation Y you’ll keep this item on your smartphone.
4. Taking Credit
If you are one of those people who aren’t good at taking credit for your own efforts, now is the time to start. Think of yourself as a mini-brand, “Me Works”. You need to start to think like someone in marketing and get the word out. If you are already someone in marketing and have this problem, you need to start thinking like someone else. And look for a new job.
Make sure your boss or team leader knows what Me Works has achieved. Send that person a weekly email bullet-pointing your successes. Start by referring to the team’s overall success and then spend the rest of the time focusing on you. Note: never actually take credit for someone else’s work unless you know categorically you won’t get found out.
5. Moving On
How do you know when it’s time to leave your present employment? Discovering all your stuff in a cardboard box in a loading dock is a good sign. More than two people greeting you with, “Are you still here?” is another. But sometimes it becomes necessary to move on to greener pastures before one has burnt all one’s bridges.
A 2003 study from the MacDonald’s Brain and Cognitive Science Division, shows that leaving a job is the third most stressful thing one can do. (Shopping at IKEA in the week before Christmas and knowing one is targeted for death by a US military Predator drone were first and second.) But when you have to leave, the study shows the best way to achieve this is to tell no one. Come into work on your final Friday. Don’t return to your desk after lunch. Boom! Done…
So there you have it. I hope you…Boom! Done…
Phil Jeng Kane