What a terrible way to go into the weekend. Fridays usually culminate in a week’s worth of frustrations and regrets. But surely, if you are subject to the general cubicle scheme of things, this has to be a particularly worrisome run-up to Saturday.
Every stock market from the Nikkei to the Nasdaq, via Dalal Street, has been blown to bits. The American economy has gone belly up. And the Italian economy is now doing to Europe what Silvio Berlusconi was doing to almost anything in his immediate vicinity.
Also Read | Sidin Vadukut’s previous columns
What is most fear-inducing is the fact that the banks have started deserting these sinking economies.
For the regular cubiclist on the street these are not kind headlines. As you are reading this on a Saturday afternoon, wheels are no doubt in motion in your organizations. CEOs are looking at expenses, CFOs are looking at head counts, and human resources vice-presidents are brutally totting up a list of coffee machines and soap dispensers. If this pessimism persists... well who knows what might transpire.
As professionals, I think it is best that all of us prepare for the worst. In case, Marc Faber forbid, something horrible happens in the coming weeks and months, it would be sheer folly for the readers of this column to be caught unawares.
So what can we do to reduce pain in case our organizations embark on a de-cubiclization drive? These are some handy tips to making the most of the current situation, and to control any potential damage.
Sabotage your voice mail
There is a disturbing new trend of companies using the faceless and cowardly method of voice mail to fire people. In some cases an emotionless voice asks you to pack up everything and go home right away. Otherwise a message asks you to assemble in a conference where the firing is done in bulk.
But how is it your fault if you never got the message? On Monday, call every major real estate developer and insurance company in India. Talk to them with great enthusiasm. Leave your office number and tell them to leave a message if you don’t pick up. Then schedule copious meetings outside the office.
Enjoy the job security.
Get yourself on TV
As you are no doubt aware, the media in this country is extremely sensitive to any indication of turbulence in an organization. And nothing screams “Dump our stock and run you morons!” like using a string of people to represent the firm in the media. Companies usually like to stick with one guy to give the perception of stability.
During an economic apocalypse few people want to be that face. This is a golden opportunity. Step in and offer to defend the company come what may. Yes, often you might have to lie blatantly on TV and to your shareholders.
But that is what modern business leadership is all about. Think of it as a challenge.
Volunteer for everything
There is always a lag between the HR activities planned in the company and the economy. So you might still have time to participate in, and even organize, a few photographic exhibitions, inter-departmental quizzes or self-awareness treks.
HR people never get anyone to volunteer for anything. When they finally do find someone, the HR department celebrates like scenes in Harry Potter when anyone catches a ‘snitch’ during Quidditch.
Immediately embark on a programme of volunteering with gay abandon. Inveigle your way into leadership roles. How can they fire you if you are the brains behind “Eggcelent Employees!: Can you eat more omelettes than Sidin Vadukut?”
Go to school
Campus recruitments are an integral part of the organizational ego. Even when they are firing hundreds of people every day, companies like to glamourously parade through campuses with their presentations, pizzas and free pens. For all you know right now, somewhere at an IIM in this country, Lehman Brothers is keenly competing with Bear Sterns for investment bankers.
So what should you do? Join the campus recruitment team as soon as possible. Volunteer to go anywhere for anything: guest lectures, presentations, motivational speeches, business quizzes, case study competitions, Mr. and Miss. Institute 2011... anything. Go and form a deep bond with the students through the means of tobacco, alcohol and Domino’s.
Boom. Now you are un-fire-able. If you disappear, the hungry, sober and enraged students will start asking uncomfortable questions. This will reflect badly on the company.
This trick must only be used in the most dire circumstances. It is cruel, insidious, traitorous and despicable. But then so are annual reports.
As soon as you get a whiff of layoffs, walk up to your boss and ask him who “both of you” should be getting rid of. If this does not work, try to walk up to his boss. Basically, the trick is to be one of the fire-ers and not one of the fire-ees. This is a terrible thing to do to your friends and colleagues.
But never forget this: they will never pay your EMIs. Only you can.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org