Getting promoted at work has more to do with politics than accomplishment, like getting a music or book contract, or inheriting a family fortune. It is possible to gain notoriety and success by doing as little as possible, just look at any politician — ever. These guys have mastered the art of seeming responsible and respectable while being reprehensible in their tactics — but why not leverage their playbook? So revel in irony and cruise your way to the corner office by creating a constituency and rigging the vote; here are five tips to getting promoted at work by working like a politician.
Know what to say
Politicians have a knack of always knowing what to say, even if they don’t know what to say. They utilize the “sound bite” version of communication, in which truth is molested more than a Penn State ball boy. You might not know what they are saying, but you’d be damned if it wasn’t memorable. You interview like a pro. To operate in this world of verbal virility you don’t need to know a lot, but you need to know. It’s a subtle distinction that bears results as disparate as comparing John Stamos to Ozzy Osbourne. So work on those bullet-points and convince those around you that you’re on it when in fact you’re so off it that the money is on the table and the cab is already called.
Automation, not procrastination
Automation is like learning to masturbate: at first it takes a little effort to figure out what works, but soon you can do it in your sleep (and probably will). Various tools and systems common in the work place are worth investing your time as their entire purpose is to save you time. Learn how to configure spreadsheets in a way where formulas and macros do all the heavy lifting while you flip between NSFW Facebook pictures and hilarious cat videos. Have your sound bites ready to take credit for “improving processes” your boss didn’t know existed in ways he isn’t sure he understands while maintaining an aura of complete flat-out busy-ness.
Create your constituents
Your coworkers are your constituents, but don’t call them that to their faces, lest you come off as an old-timey Southern politician . Your coworkers are the ones who will reference goodwill your way, and you earn that goodwill by selectively helping them and seeming charming and caring. Sure, you may sooner push them in front of a bus than listen to another finance related punch line (“some bankers are generous to a vault”), but you need your constituents to do as little as possible — precisely how a politician needs constituents to stump for them in areas they hate. Think of it as synergized gossip — coworkers thinking well of you allow you to work less at getting people to think well of you.
Be proactively inactive
Politicians have made talking out their asses without the farting sound an art form. Make your BS sound like a Vivaldi symphony, putting people in awe of the gorgeous sounds spewing from your bottom-mouth. Don’t follow up, don’t look into it. You’re busy .
Credentials mean more than intelligence, because credentials prove intelligence better than experience. Experience is, after all, for people who work. Credentials are for people who work hard at not working — or building a great resume. The sooner you get that CPD, CPR or HPV the sooner employers will be foaming at the mouth to higher you. Sure, you could cram for the test over the course of a week while hopped up on enough Ritalin to knock out Charlie Sheen and then forget all the information quicker than Brett Favre forgets where he lives, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is you’re qualified for the job, and you have the credentials to prove it.
Politicians are masters of manipulating the system they work in, and you should strive for no less than the same. With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work at not working, you may be.
Photo Credit: Erik Cleves Kristensen