Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

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SimpleLife
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Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by SimpleLife »

I've noticed that everywhere I go, there are people who have no idea what they are doing, don't actually do anything, or actively try to avoid doing anything/otherwise do such sub par work that their work is offloaded onto others, while they get to keep their job because they provide just enough value.

Even when these people finally get let go, it is as a layoff, and usually with a severance and unemployment. Engineering your layoff, so to speak (there's a blog about this).

So I got to thinking, maybe these people are onto something. Corporations are generally trying to screw their employees anyways. These people, assuming they are frugal, could be saving 50-100K a year from their income while they BS their way through work almost daily.

I'm starting to think it's worth the trade off. Get good enough at office politics you can deflect anything, and be able to save say, 200K in two years just to BS your way through. Even if you get let go, it's usually a paid vacation courtesy of severance and unemployment. There is an opportunity cost to not working. These people, (I've noticed they are mostly older) seem to not care what anyone thinks of them, they are just going through the motions and getting their money. Sounds like a good plan to me.

jacob
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by jacob »

Did you ever read the Gervais Principle series from ribbonfarm?

If not, do so ASAP!

Dragline
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by Dragline »

Kind of like this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGS2tKQhdhY

Most of them are kind of miserable wretches in my experience -- in part because they haven't saved enough and are essentially stuck.

See the characters "Hem" and "Haw" in this modern parable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16hxCB1Dvd4

1taskaday
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by 1taskaday »

What always amazes me is the amount of energy they have to expend,avoiding the work...surely it's less hassle and easier to "just do the God dam work man"but obviously not for some personalities...blows my mind.

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Jean
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by Jean »

My last job felt completely useless, and to me it was like nothing was expected from me. I could have stayed there and kept earning money for doing nothing, but I felt terrible about it.
I couldn't do this. I'de rather rob directly the company if I hate it enough.

IlliniDave
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by IlliniDave »

SimpleLife wrote: Even when these people finally get let go, it is as a layoff, and usually with a severance and unemployment. Engineering your layoff, so to speak (there's a blog about this).

So I got to thinking, maybe these people are onto something. Corporations are generally trying to screw their employees anyways. These people, assuming they are frugal, could be saving 50-100K a year from their income while they BS their way through work almost daily.

...

Even if you get let go, it's usually a paid vacation courtesy of severance and unemployment. There is an opportunity cost to not working. These people, (I've noticed they are mostly older) seem to not care what anyone thinks of them, they are just going through the motions and getting their money. Sounds like a good plan to me.
From your description it does not sound like employees getting routinely screwed by corporations. It sounds like a fairly generous situation.

There is an oddity to the culture of large corporations where it does seem like there is a lot of wasted time. It seems like two groups of employees are required--one to participate in all the meetings someone decides are required, and the other to execute the work. Generally older, higher-paid employees tend to make up the former group. But there are exceptions. The path to the top of most corporations is lined with meetings. At some level there is nothing but meetings. To be "free" to attend all the meetings you can't be chained to your desk "working".

I've resisted that lure as best I could, but I don't begrudge those who have not. The powers that be seem perfectly willing to hand over the money. The "smart" thing for any employee to do is to use the system to their best advantage. From my perspective, being in that niche, is not without risk because they are often the first group to get drummed out when times get tough. And I think the drudgery takes its toll mentally and emotionally.

Maybe that's not quite what you are talking about ...

I'm actually looking to engineer my own layoff at this time. I'm at the age/years of service where the severance would include some positive impacts on my retirement benefits over me simply giving notice. Since a reality of the corporate world is that periodically it is helpful to shed higher-paid employees, it would be a win-win. My problem is that I'm productive, I rank high among my salary-grade peers, and really can't bring myself to deliberately tank my effort. Working in my favor is the business situation where our customer is winding down our involvement in a significant program we've been participating in for a long time.

jim234
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by jim234 »

Where I used to work a co-worker of mine started with me in the same department a week apart. For some reason I will never understand, management loved this guy. He never learned the job, never created solutions like the rest of us, and yet he never got in trouble for anything. Proves corporate politics trumps everything else. So glad I don't have to deal with that BS any more.

Ydobon
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by Ydobon »

I have ended up in the situation where I accidentally 'game' the total lack of supervision or direction in my workplace to effectively do nothing. It's rotten - I basically sit and browse the internet 50% of the time.

I actually started out with this company hoping to further my career and challenge myself, but I fell for all the corporate BS about how they were great at developing employees, shit hot at getting stuff done and generally a fine example of the thrusting capitalist tradition.

That, plus the fact that my role/team has changed twice in three years means that I have effcetively fallen into an engineered layoff situation except someone else engineered it and they seem to have no interest in making me redundant!

I have spells of trying to ask for guidance/new tasks/training, but ultimately my manager is too busy finding their own feet to give a hoot.

So, nice to get the money (where else will I get £30k for doing nothing?), but teeth grinding stuff.

cmonkey
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by cmonkey »

Ydobon wrote:I have ended up in the situation where I accidentally 'game' the total lack of supervision or direction in my workplace to effectively do nothing. It's rotten - I basically sit and browse the internet 50% of the time.
Same here but I try not to abuse it too much. Browsing stays mostly on the personal device in case they do monitor. Frankly its a situation of "why bother?" when I know that any effort beyond what I do already doesn't bring about any benefit at all to myself or the company.

I had a position a couple years ago as a developer where I busted myself building a system that ultimately never got used. I bought into the whole "oh yea this will change everything!" line that never came to fruition. I have never met a more ADHD-prone group of folks than business people. Sure I learned a bunch of cool stuff but I have really lost touch with that part of myself and just don't care for development work anymore.

Now on the team I'm on, suggestions/improvements were routinely ignored when I first started. I was pretty excited to get on my current team, but I quickly learned not to fall into the same trap. Old dogs don't learn new tricks, particularly in IT.


It ultimately comes down to what you value more - a low stress, healthier life or a life where you feel morally better for having "done your 200%".

GandK
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by GandK »

SimpleLife wrote:So I got to thinking, maybe these people are onto something. Corporations are generally trying to screw their employees anyways. These people, assuming they are frugal, could be saving 50-100K a year from their income while they BS their way through work almost daily.

... These people, (I've noticed they are mostly older) seem to not care what anyone thinks of them, they are just going through the motions and getting their money. Sounds like a good plan to me.
I got to this point a few years before I retired. I couldn't even pretend to care about work. Everything felt futile to me. Here's how I handled it.

Since retiring I've had this discussion with lots of other retired people, most of them 20+ years older than I. And almost everyone gets to this point, either over time or as a result of a personal crisis like mine. Your career zeal fades when you realize you can't remake your environment and/or the world for the better (whatever that looks like to you personally) no matter how far you rise or how important you become. The disenchantment holds true from CEOs, who find that they must still answer to boards and shareholders, on downward. Middle managers seem to get the most disenchanted... likely because people at the bottom didn't have high expectations to begin with, and the top dogs at least get lots of prestige and cash. But the middle managers had dreams of running the place someday and it hits them hard when the day comes that they realize that will never happen. And unfortunately, this revelation frequently seems to coincide with the start of andropause/menopause in the late 40s, kicking off the proverbial "midlife crisis."

FWIW, the only people I've asked who completely escaped the disenchantment fairy are entrepreneurs, and people whose careers involved work that appealed to them on a moral level (charity work, ministry, nonprofit, etc.).

DSKla
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by DSKla »

This is just about every single person where I work. But mostly fitting the model of being incompetent and spending everything they earn as opposed to an intentional gaming of the system. Our unit, though very small, delivers the vast majority of what our department is supposed to deliver. Thankfully, my boss finally (and suddenly) made the clueless-to-loser-to-budding-sociopath transition. It has occurred to her how it works and always will work, and she is making moves to benefit our unit. Me bitching to her about my salary point blank when she was ranting to me about the way our workplace functions resulted her fighting to get me a 12% raise. None of my coworkers bitched loud enough apparently, because they didn't get one.

I'm content to be a loser accumulator. I do everything that is required of me and often more, which never ever takes a full 40 hours a week, then I just avoid everyone the rest of the time. There really are no promotions available at this point, but I wouldn't want one if a new position was created. When I put it into perspective, I have about the best work situation I could. Zero stress, high flexibility, relative job security, and a salary that may be below industry standards, but I essentially work part-time.

My good friend in marketing just turned down an offer to be the new director of marketing, and he allowed a girl half his age to get the job to be his boss. I asked him why, and he said "she has to go to meetings and listen to all the paper pushers and windbags (our clueless overlords) talk circles about things that don't make sense. I make posters and workout and everybody leaves me alone."

enigmaT120
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by enigmaT120 »

DSKla wrote:I do everything that is required of me and often more, which never ever takes a full 40 hours a week, then I just avoid everyone the rest of the time. There really are no promotions available at this point, but I wouldn't want one if a new position was created. When I put it into perspective, I have about the best work situation I could. Zero stress, high flexibility, relative job security, and a salary that may be below industry standards, but I essentially work part-time.
That sounds like my job too, but just because I can do all my work in less than 40 hours per week doesn't mean I can stay home and do things I like. I still have to do time. It's just not hard time. But I'll be glad to say "bye" to it.

Andre900
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by Andre900 »

I've been with my current employer for ten years, and plan to retire in about seven years at age 57. I'm financially secure enough to retire now, but want to build my nestegg and don't want to pay $400-$500 per month for health insurance. The salary is reasonable, and the benefits are excellent, and I don't have to work too hard. My employer doesn't expect much from the "protected class" workers, so for me, not of a "protected class," I only have to work a little bit harder than them to look like an excellent worker; and I can do that in about 15 hours of real work each week.

bryan
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by bryan »

Previous job I had an older colleague that would always have a stock market chart open when I walked into his cube. There was one project I worked with him closely on and he was able to either deflect, delay, or do to a below average quality any task on his plate. At least he was upfront about it (rather, I picked up on it at easily)? Maybe he was trying to trigger a severance? Clearly I wouldn't want to work with him in the future or give him a recommendation.


Current day, I recently had a performance review and scored excellent marks (so maybe a bonus/raise in store) despite my reduced brain/time load over the past year on work. Since I am fairly close to ERE part of me would be fine with getting laid off with some severance or even just getting my PTO cashed out (small employer offers relatively high PTO days and doesn't yet have a limit on roll-overs year-to-year or forced vacations). After theoretical layoff I'm fairly certain I would basically live at a TechShop/Makerspace (the other contender being travelling South America).

gala
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by gala »

This is an interesting thread. I am in corporate IT so I've seen this over and over again and when I was younger it used to depress me. I would call those people 'corporate zombies', walking around, barely moving, barely getting anything done. I didn't want to turn into one one day.
Part of the reason I quit. I still stay in touch with some devs over there and they tell me that nothing has changed in 2 years.
But, I do agree that a lot of people get to that point in their careers, if you stay with the company long enough.
I am glad I left. It was scary. It was hard at some points, but ultimately more rewarding, financially wise and skills wise.
But, the allure of slumbering through your 9-5 while getting paid is very tempting, but ... Ultimately, I believe, you have to decide for yourself what kind of person you want to be.

chicago81
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by chicago81 »

I've been an employee of a company for over 11 years, which has recently gone through many levels of mergers, acquisitions, and resulting layoff rounds. I'm still in my early 30's, but I'm fairly close to FI. I could probably pull the trigger now, but I'm going to try to work a few more years to avoid some unwanted sacrifices.

The mergers/layoffs have disenfranchised a lot of employees. Myself included. Big time.

You can count me in as someone who I suppose is "gaming the corporate system" now, as I honestly don't give a $#!+ anymore about the place, or if I do a good job, or if sales are good or bad or anything.

I think this sums it up.. It's not that I'm lazy; It's that I just don't care.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2_Yi-1Ryf4

I've been in this mindset now for probably 2 or 3 years, so admittedly, I probably should have sought out a different job. I'm a little bewildered why I wasn't a target for any of the many rounds of prior layoffs. Perhaps I'll eventually get my severance package :lol:

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Stahlmann
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Re: Colleagues who are gaming the corporate system

Post by Stahlmann »

I think the bigger tragedy is when you're eager to do something, but can't connect with people or get knowledge from them (don't ask my how I came up with this example :lol:).

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