The Ten Pronouncements


While this was published several years back in TODAY, it possibly remains topical & relevant even today as a light-hearted look at the corporate minefield that we are all perpetually negotiating.

(Or, A tongue-in-cheek guide to survival and advancement in the corporate jungle)

The First Pronouncement: A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Till you succeed in getting from Position A to Position B, it is important to get about regularly from Place A to Place B and thence to Place C and to be seen by all those who matter while doing so. Perceived and continual locomotion is important even if it be to the coffee vending machine multiple times and to the fax machine most other times to pick up faxes for sundry other colleagues and briskly walk about distributing them. Seeing your energy and activity levels, there is no way the management will ever put down your name in a list of those fated to receive pink slips soon.

The Second Pronouncement: Covet most jobs, save your own.

Let’s face it, it is invariably others who get all the lucky breaks. Since Dame Fortune does not quite seem to be smiling at you, you need to use all available weapons and strategies to displace all those who happen to be occupying slots you are better suited to. Once you are in the groove, management will be wondering how they ever managed all these years without you.

The Third Pronouncement: They Also Serve Who Stand and Wait

It is a pity that since management isn’t quite aware yet of your true potential and talent, you are not part of important tasks and events often enough. To get over this handicap, try and be present on the periphery of important events discussions and activities, even if you are merely standing around looking eager and attentive. Remember people who matter usually have well developed peripheral visions and human memories usually work in an associative fashion. This way, the next time they think about the discussion or the event they will in all probability associate you in some way with it.

The Fourth Pronouncement: Do unto your colleagues what they probably could do unto you.

Reorganizations and redundancies are becoming increasingly common in organizations including the one you happen to work for. Since there are aren’t enough jobs to go around for all the people working presently, it might just help to pass on tactical pieces of information to the right quarters. Letting the right quarters know that Chee Kong failed to meet timelines the last couple of times and that Richard makes about one major mistake every week could direct those nasty pink slips to the right workstations. It additionally ensures that some manager with myopic and distorted vision doesn’t direct one of those pink slips to your workstation in the near future.

The Fifth Pronouncement: When in Battle, Bring up The Rear

While Hollywood has long glorified characters played by the likes of Charlton Heston and John Wayne (lately Russell Crowe) remember that despite all their proactiveness and initiative when the bullets start flying they are usually the ones who stand the greatest chance of biting the dust. Therefore don’t quite volunteer to navigate uncharted waters or carry out precedent-busting assignments. This way, in case things go wrong and your manager and his second tier fall like ninepins you could always distance yourself from their misadventures. However if you are dragged into it, confine yourself to following strictly formal orders. That way, if and when the fur starts flying, you could always claim that you were merely being a disciplined infantry.

The Sixth Pronouncement: Godfathers are not born but made

Since brutalities and mayhem are becoming increasingly common in the workplace you need guardian angels who will watch your back. The blessed usually have godfathers handed to them on a platter. Since you are not quite so blessed, you need to cultivate potential godfathers and discover which of them is finally willing to be your protector and benefactor.

The Seventh Pronouncement: Longevity in the organization is directly proportional to length of stay in the evenings.

The entire world appreciates a hard worker. So, even if your present assignment does not quite stretch you out consistently, you need to make an effort to let people perceive that it does. A time-tested way is to spend several hours during the daytime shooting the breeze and then to catch up in the evenings. After all, if the manager sees you hard at work almost everyday when she leaves, when it comes round to handing out pink slips you will hardly be the person who is likely to receive one of those.

The Eighth Pronouncement: Lunch times are database update times

Woe befalls Carmen who spends a good part of lunchtime shopping around or Jonathan who sometimes visits the office gym. Lunchtimes are your best window to updated information about the movers and shakers, the hatchet men and the also-rans. It is also a daily opportunity to discover deficiencies of some of your colleagues that you never even knew about. To formulate effective strategies you need to update your database regularly and what better slot than the lunch hours to do so.

The Ninth Pronouncement: Network with ex-colleagues who migrated to greener pastures.

While you formulate your strategies and fight your battles, it is expedient and convenient to have a Plan B in place. Keeping in touch with ex-colleagues and supervisors who went on to greener pastures is like buying insurance. After all, someday, soon enough, one of them will let you know about that vacant slot in his or her organization and even put in a word about you with the HR Manager. Since managers are always looking for ‘compatible’ and ‘homogenous’ people to work with, you may be invited to migrate by one of them soon enough, provided you have established your ‘compatibility’ earlier.

The Tenth Pronouncement: Careers are built by playing Hopscotch

Remember those tales your uncle narrated about how he had worked up his way in the organization and become a General Manager in the space of twenty years. Well that’s not quite valid any longer given the generation gap and globalization trends in place. You do know about Lester who became G.M. in just about seven years. Perpetual random motion is thus necessary to achieve your objectives. Keep on changing jobs in the hope that sometime soon, someone will recognize that you have all the qualities to become the G.M. immediately. Having come around full circle, refer to The First Pronouncement and discover new facets about that Pronouncement that you didn’t quite think of earlier.

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