The story of a day in the life of an unsuccessful office worker

10:58am Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch

In today’s corporate world, it is easy to become overwhelmed when confronted with a challenging task. 

Breaking the task down into a series of smaller, step by step processes often helps to make the task appear to be more realistically achievable. 

This is exactly how I feel about the task of getting involved in a relationship with the ladies in the credit department.  

When I think about the task as a whole, I feel overwhelmed. Accordingly, I have developed a step by step plan: 

 

Step 1: Choose some appropriate ladies to court. 

At this point, I need not restrict my choice to one lady. I need only narrow the selection down to a short list. 

 

Step 2: Initiate ‘surface level’ contact with target ladies. 

Make up any excuse to initiate regular contact on work related matters with women short listed from step 1. Ask for assistance in following up invoices, checking customer payments, accruals or anything else I can think of. 

 

Step 3: Move into more general conversation 

Hobbies…interests…what they do on the weekend…that kind of stuff. 

Fake an interest in their lives. 

 

Step 4: Make some moves. 

To avoid suspicion, target ladies must be short listed to one at this point. 

Ask prospect for coffee or lunch. 

To add extra class, pay for both of you with credit card. Allow a healthy tip for the waiter and pray that the transaction is not declined. 

 

Step 5: Ask short listed prospect to go out with me. 

Armed with a step by step plan, the accomplishment of my goal no longer seems like an overwhelming task.  

Now for the hard part – taking action on the plan.

10:53am The art of dressing for success

Appearance is vital for success – particularly when the goal is to impress the young women in the Credit Department. 

That is why I always keep a toilet bag in the drawer at my workstation - in case I ‘have to’ go down to the credit department. This contains essentials such as a comb, a toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving equipment and of course, aftershave. 

Before proceeding, I must check my appearance in the bathroom.  

Hair … a little out of place. No problem. A few seconds with the comb and this is fixed up.  

Tie … just needs a slight adjustment … yep, that’s right. 

Shirt … Oh dear - Half tucked in and half out … and my favorite Monday ‘Lord of the Rings’ boxers are showing in parts – the pictures of Gandalf and Frodo are visible! 

Sixty seconds of adjustment fixes that problem. 

Face … a few hairs. Two minutes work with my shaving equipment and that is dealt with. 

A little aftershave … there … perfect. 

You may wonder why I didn’t check my appearance before coming to work in the first place. I work on the executive floor, along with my supervisor and many other influential people, mostly middle aged men. These men are influential, and I want to impress them with the quality of my work.  

But I am not trying to win over their hearts. Nor am I particularly concerned if they do not find me physically attractive. 

I am, however, trying to win the hearts of the women in the Credit Department. 

Is dressing for success essential in today’s corporate world?  

If your goals include relationships with attractive colleagues – then yes. 

Dressing for success is essential.

10:55am Deal with the small issues first

In order to work in a truly effective manner, your mind must be free to focus on big picture issues and key priority tasks. 

As an accountant, I prefer to clear up small accounting issues first. Then, I can later deal with larger and more important issues without distraction. 

This provides me with the justification I need to spend the next hour with the ladies in the credit department. 

Located on the ground floor, the credit department has twenty-nine staff, consisting of four males and twenty-five females. Of the female staff, nineteen are aged under thirty five, eleven are unmarried and I must say that some of these women are, well, rather attractive.  

I will make any excuse to ‘have to’ go down there. 

This morning, I have three customer payments which I ‘need’ to follow up ‘urgently’ in order to account for them correctly in the monthly financial reports. 

The three payments in question represent an aggregate value of four hundred and fifteen dollars and nineteen cents.  

I have other accounting issues worth about $8 million to resolve before finalizing the first draft of the monthly management reports - due tomorrow night. Given this, one might suggest that I should leave the Credit Department issues and focus on resolving issues of greater financial importance.  

I disagree. It’s better to deal with these to small issues first. Later, I can focus on more important issues without distraction. 

Accordingly, I have complete justification to spend the next hour chatting up the ladies in the credit department whilst I pretend to look for forms relating to the customer payments in question.

10:33am My Greatest Sacrifice

Commitment and sacrifice are crucial for success in any area of life. 

Over a healthy breakfast of coffee and doughnuts at the coffee shop, I share with colleagues Jack and Arnie the story of the greatest sacrifice I have ever made – my choice of football team. 

For twenty years, I have had the misfortune of barracking for the Richmond Football Club, otherwise known as the Tigers. They are a pathetic Australian Rules football team whose only skill in the last two decades has been to find new ways to disappoint their supporters. 

Arnie wonders why I ever choose such a bad football team. “My girlfriend,” I explain. 

Arnie looks puzzled. “But you don’t have a girlfriend.” 

“No, I’m talking about my girlfriend from when I was seven years old. Back then, I wanted to demonstrate my honest and sincere devotion to her and her family.  

The best way to do that was to change my football team. Her family were passionate

Richmond supporters. I wanted to show them the extent to which I was willing to sacrifice for our relationship.  

“Did it work?” Jack asked. 

“Nah, she dumped me for my best mate the next day. Now, they’re married with two kids. I’m still not speaking to them.” 

“So Stewie,” Arnie clears his throat. “Tell me, why do you still barrack for them, even though they are the worst team in history?” 

I sigh. “I guess it’s symbolic. I know she’s married, but deep down inside, I’m still hoping to get back with her.  

I mean, I really felt we had something during the two weeks we spent together twenty years ago. I want to hold on to what we had. I guess, I’m finding it hard to let go and move on with my life.” 

Sometimes, you have to sacrifice your dreams for those you love. Twenty years ago, I sacrificed my most important dream – the hope of barracking for a football team that may one day win a premiership – for that of the woman I loved. 

My sacrifice has come with twenty years of pain, but it was worth it. 

Neither commitment nor sacrifice is ever easy, but both are necessary for success.

10:30am How to make sensible decisions

Your decisions determine your destiny. 

Sensible decisions are crucial for success. 

My professional training has taught me to undertake a cost-benefit analysis when faced with important decisions. Under this approach, the benefits of undertaking a certain action are compared to any costs or drawbacks of this action. 

I am now faced with an important decision. It’s ten thirty and a caffeine fix is required. Should I go over to the coffee shop with Jack and Arnie or should I tolerate instant coffee from the staff tea-room?   

Drawing on my professional expertise, I undertake a cost benefit analysis in order to help me choose the best option. 

 

Benefits of going to coffee shop 

·        Taste:  Fresh tasting cappuccino at the coffee shop beats barely drinkable instant caffeine fix  from staff room; 

·        Food:  Doughnuts, vanilla slices and muffins also available.  

·        Conversation: Tea-room topics such as who’s complaining about what in which department, the best specials at the supermarket and the latest sex scandal in Hollywood are not as interesting as coffee shop discussions about football, hot stock tips and the latest developments in Jack’s divorce proceedings. 

·        Polluted air: I get one minute and twenty six seconds of true polluted city air while crossing the street to get to the shop. Polluted air yes, but real air nonetheless. 

 

Cost of going to the shop 

·        Cost: An important consideration given that I am far from affluent.  

The offerings in the kitchen may be barely consumable, but they are free. The premium offerings at the coffee shop are not. Quality costs. 

·        Backstabbing: Absence from tea room discussions about who’s complaining about what in which department is risky as you may become an easy target for backstabbing. 

Given that I did not eat breakfast, considerable weight must be given to the food factor on the benefits side. 

On balance, the benefits of going to the coffee shop outweigh the costs. So I’m going. 

When faced with important decisions, undertaking a cost benefit analysis will help you to select the best option. 

Better decisions lead to better outcomes and a more successful life.

9:43am Making my dreams happen

For many, turning dreams into reality is a difficult challenge.  

They must develop effective work habits, initiative, sacrifice, discipline and the courage to put their best foot forward. 

I, too, face challenges in turning my dreams into reality.  

If I am to turn my dreams into reality without doing any real work, I have to enhance my skills and techniques in terms of office politics 

Specifically, I need to develop more effective skills in the following areas: 

·        knowing who to be nice to and when;  

·        making full-proof excuses;  

·        getting wrongful credit for ideas or work done by others;  

·        transferring blame when something has gone wrong; and  

·        having inappropriate relations with influential female managers. 

Some believe that I am taking the wrong approach and that diligence and sacrifice are more important than office politics. They point to the fact that I have been fired from four jobs in five years since leaving university.  

But don’t write me off just yet. Getting ahead through office politics alone will take a lot of patience, skill and practice. Successful people make mistakes and learn from them. 

Persistence and continual learning are keys to success.

9:40am My dream versus my reality

There comes a time to sit back and reflect on your direction in life. 

For me, that time is now – when Bill is away from his desk and I can space out for a while. 

My dreams and my reality have one thing in common – both involve being actively passive (lazy). But that’s where the similarities end. 

In my dreams, I’m a corporate high flyer. I have no superiors and many subordinates. 

In reality, I’m at the bottom of the corporate ladder. I have many superiors and no subordinates. 

In my dreams, I relax and take it easy. I achieve results by delegating excessive workloads with unrealistic deadlines to my staff. 

In reality, I also relax and take it easy when I can. But those above me achieve results by placing excessive workloads and unrealistic deadlines upon me. 

In my dreams, subordinates make way for me in office corridors. 

In reality, I make way for superiors in office corridors. 

In my dreams, I work in my own cushy office, complete with a view across the city, my own personal fridge and a small pot plant, watered by my personal assistant. 

In reality, I work at my own compact cubicle – complete a view of a thick grey concrete wall, my own personal stack of files and a $2 pot plant watered by me. 

In my dreams, I drive a new Holden Statesman, provided as part of my generous compensation package.  

In reality, I battle traffic in a thirty year old Volkswagen, provided for by debt repayments made from my modest compensation package. 

In my dreams, my investment portfolio is showing consistent appreciation in value through fresh contributions and healthy investment returns. 

In reality, my portfolio of debts is showing consistent appreciation in value through fresh borrowings and unhealthy interest charges. 

In my dreams, I live on one acre, in a double storey beachfront home.  

In reality, I live in a compact, two bedroom unit rented by my parents. 

In my dreams, I’m happily married to an intelligent, beautiful woman. I’m also having an affair with my gorgeous, thirty-something secretary. 

In reality, I’ve been single and desperate for twenty years.  

But, I have a surefire action plan to turn my dreams into reality. (details next post)  

Accordingly, I can face the future with confidence. 

Dreams come true for the man with a plan.

9:32am The corporate rat race - part 2

But corporate life is not always bad. 

I am happy to report that Malcolm, my hard working and diligent friend from the previous post, found new employment and has been with his current employer for two years. 

During this time, his hard work and diligence has paid off. 

Three months ago, he received an outstanding performance review. His supervisor commented on his co-operative attitude and his willingness to do more than required. 

Malcolm’s reward is a pay increase of two percent, to be phased in over a four year period. The increase, which is being awarded to all non managerial employees, represents a reward for productivity gains of fifteen percent. 

In addition, in the company’s annual report, the Chairman will devote one sentence to praising “the contribution of highly skilled and dedicated employees who have made the company into an outstanding success.” 

His employer was unable to offer a larger increase due to ‘cost pressures.’ 

Cost pressures are mounting due to large increases in remuneration for senior management. All senior managers were recently awarded pay increases of up to 50%, not subject to performance.  

In order to maintain a competitive cost structure, the sizable increase in remuneration expenses at the managerial level must be offset by restraint at the non-managerial level. 

Accordingly, management cannot agree to irresponsible wage claims, such as the four percent increase proposed by the union.  

Wage restraint, along with continued hard work and dedication, is a sacrifice that employees must make in order to ensure the success of the company.

9:30am The corporate rat race - part 1

Turning dreams into reality is one of the biggest challenges in life. 

My friend, Malcolm, is an IT professional. He approaches this challenge by hard work and sacrifice.  

Malcolm arrives at work early, puts his head down, and strives to achieve positive outcomes. He takes pride in his work.  

His reward from his first employer was a permanent vacation.   

On the day of the good news, they showered him with gratitude.  

First, he was treated to a meeting in the company boardroom, his first in four years at the company. There, he was told that due to a restructure in his department, he was now overqualified for any positions available.  

But the gratitude did not stop there. The company made other provisions for him, including: 

·        thirty minutes of company time to collect personal belongings; 

·        the opportunity to begin his vacation immediately; 

·        six weeks of vacation spending money, in addition to accumulated amounts owing; and 

·        his own personal security guard, to make certain that he did not inadvertently steal or damage company property, to remind him to hand in his security pass and to ensure his personal safety whilst leaving the building. 

But the best was still to come. 

His biggest reward came the very next week. The company announced a record profit result, along with the granting of an extra million stock options to the chief executive as a performance bonus.  

The hard work of dedicated employees like Malcolm had paid off - the boss could now earn an extra few million each year for taking it easy all day long. 

A true reward for effort indeed.