Bonjour Laziness – Jumping off the corporate ladder

Bonjour Laziness – Jumping off the corporate ladder

 By Corinne Maier

“Bonjour Laziness” goes against everything you’ve ever been taught about becoming a professional. Maeir encourages the avoidance of responsibility and action is the best revenge against an oppressive bureacratic structure, and that increased job satisfaction will come with working less.

In business, when someone says something to you or when you read a document, there are certain keys that must be used to unlock the meaning.  Here’s how to decipher the code :

1) Reverse the signs
The more big business talks about something, the less of it there is. For example, if it harps that is “values” jobs just at the moment when they disappear.

2) Follow the circular reasoning
Business talk is like an idea, that you follow it to the end, and without fail you come back to the beginning.

3) Detect the idiocy of lies.
With experience, you will learn that sometimes the best answer to any question is “Whatever you say, sir.” For example, your bosses tell you, “Our staff is our best asset.” or “Your ideas are important to us.”. This is meaningless, for everyone knows that such a world does not exist.

4) Do a reality check
When things are merely difficult in day-to-day existence, they’re completely impossible in the workplace. For example, any effort at large-scale reorganization – that is projects spanning more than 2 years or more, had not already been done – is inevitably doomed to fail.

5) Put things in perspective
The firm cannot be separated from the world in which it flourishes – or,as in the current economic environment, in which it declines.

Business is only interested in employees’ “right to work” in order to, well circumvent it. It takes on every chance to create temporary positions, hire freelancers, and encourage flexible hours while slowly paring back the mechanics of job security set in place over a century of labour struggle. This allows a company to “keep its hands free” and to avoid making any long term commitments to its employees.

Too many diplomas is like no diplomas at all. The more there are, the less they’re worth. But don’t throw away your diplomas yet. They may not measure intelligence or competence, but at least documents are proof that the wage earner, the small time manager, knows how to buckle down. Only a former student who was able to tolerate years of study, the stupidity of his teachers, the pressure of friends to do what everyone else is doing, is capable of putting up with the banality and repetitiveness of 30 odd years in an office!

Most jobs no longer require a high level of technical or intellectual skill. They involve routine above all, and require so little initiative or inventive spirit that whoever completes the required level of study is already overqualified for most of the available positions.

The religion of the corporate world is novelty. What is new is always right. Young people inject fresh blood into the organization. Any firm that panics at the idea of not being cutting-edge is keen to hire them. Of course, it’s really society as a whole that peddles this image of the fresh and healthy young people living life to the max.

Mobility is the closest a middle manager gets to a religious truth; it’s the only one available to him.

Francois Salving, in his book La boite (The Firm) gives us an example of a typical conversation between an employee and his boss:

“What’s your idea of a career?” ask the director of HR.
“3 years per position.”
“What is that?”
“Any more than that, you get stuck in a rut, and people think you’re dead in the water. Less than that, you can’t get to the bottom of things; you don’t know the ocean, only the waves.”

Move on! 3 years at the parent firm, 2 years in Singapore to oversee a subsidary, 3 years in Backwaterville for management control. Your support structure will follow; it goes without saying that your children and spouse will enthusiastically move and abandon their routines, friends, jobs and fall right in line. And if by chance, they don’t follow, change your spouse. Clearly, the current one is not mobile enough to keep up with your skyrocketing career. The CEOs set the example, but on a grander scale – moving in between multinationals, staying a few years at each job and receiving en route signing bonuses and golden parachutes in the millions.

The middle manager is an obstruction. Professionally, he is hardly flexible, afraid of being demoted and being forced to take on a task beneath him. The obsession with rank, privilege, and prerogatives feeds corporate behaviour, caste arrogance, and endless squabbling over precedence makes a middle manager unmanageable.

The dream of most middle managers is not to have to move every 3 years, but rather to buy a little house in an unassuming residential suburb, then later on, as he moves up the property ladder, the house that shows that they’ve finally “made it.” Once in debt for 20 years to acquire his “home sweet home”, he doesn’t want to move anymore.


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