The Five Unspoken Commandments of Corporate America

Unspoken Corporate Commandment #1: Know the Lingo

Pay attention on conference calls and in meetings in order to pick out the current buzz words that upper management uses continuously. Then incorporate those words into your daily conversations with colleagues and most importantly, your boss. You may feel foolish at first, but mimicking is the sincerest form of flattery and it will be noticed. If you’re on the fast track to success, pick out a word from the dictionary, or make one up and start using it. I guarantee it will catch on by your next paycheck.

Unspoken Corporate Commandment #2: Honesty is the Best Policy

Unless your display of honesty could tarnish the company’s image, or cause a client to walk. In fact, if being honest would upset anyone in the company who is above you in title, pay, or seniority, it’s better to just keep your mouth shut. If forced to talk you need to remember that you are responsible for keeping the company’s best interests at heart. I once got lectured about the difference between “stretching the truth” and “lying”. Only you can decide if sacrificing your moral code is worth the paycheck.

Unspoken Corporate Commandment #3: Know Your Place

If you are among the millions of people that could be classified as “worker bees”, then you know exactly what I am talking about. In most cases, you have absolutely no authority to question anyone who is in a managerial position. If your boss wants you to finish their kid’s calculus homework, then you need to grab a pencil and a calculator. However, if you come up with an original streamlined process feel free to discuss it with your manager, but don’t be surprised when they take all the credit and suddenly show up the next week driving a BMW.

Unspoken Corporate Commandment #4: Recognition Takes the Form of Additional Work

If you’ve done a good job on a project or presentation, you’ll know it by the extra work you are suddenly awarded on top of an already packed schedule. It’s hard to convince yourself to take this as a compliment, especially when the slacker two cubes down from you has MySpace up on his computer screen every time you walk by. This is a classic paradox that puts you between a rock and a hard place. Remember that there comes a time when every valuable employee has the right to say no, which leads us to the fifth and final commandment.

Unspoken Corporate Commandment #5: Know That You Are Replaceable

It doesn’t matter if you are the only person who knows your position or a particular client’s needs. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been with the company for over twenty years either. On a whim, you can and will get fired. If this situation presents itself, be sure to keep in touch with your old colleagues so you can glean some satisfaction from the tales of management’s mad dash to cover their foolish actions. Most importantly, don’t sweat it, because it happens to the best of us.

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