These days with all the insolvent millionaires floating around, ex CEO’s in rehab for stock option addictions, and auditors who can’t tell the difference between a zero and a six, if you have any career ambitions left, beyond getting out of fire warden duty, then it’s hard to know where to start.
In fact the only true career path left to the ambitious employee these days is this – getting onto the boss’s joke distribution list.
You see the boss’s joke personal distribution list is the new inner sanctum. It’s the place where decisions are made, and promotions are decided. All the trappings of career advancement that appeared in corporations last century, are now off the corporate landscape completely. Like for instance the big office with its own window (even the boss is part of the cube farm now), the car space (forget it – pay for your own), the celebratory dinner at a swanky restaurant when a project finishes (there’s no budget and nothing ever gets completed anyway because there’s no budget) and that old perennial – the junket – Enron execs will admit guilt way before that ever comes back.
But the boss’s joke list does have a couple of advantages over and above any of these things. For instance, getting a joke email from the boss does not involve having to do any actual work. It involves not having to let the boss beat you at golf, getting to a breakfast meeting on time or filling up the photocopier. And the best thing about this method of corporate climbing is that you get to communicate with the boss without ever having to actually talk to them.
But it goes beyond not having to talk to the boss. You can make strategic inroads into the organisation, and stake out your territory. Because once you have received a joke email from the boss, you can then forward it to a dozen other people on your own joke list, and they will get to see that you are one of the boss’s chosen ones. So you then get to create your own power base even without actually having any power. From seeing who else is on the list, you get to see first hand who your own competition is
In fact the boss’s joke list is pretty much the one durable thing about corporate life. These days when pretty much half the time you don’t know the name of the company you’re working for this week, and boss’s come and go more regularly than Channel 9 executives, one thing in life is sure – there will always be a boss, and they will always have a joke distribution list.
With this in mind, it’s obviously crucial if you have any career prospects left to get onto that joke list. This is pretty difficult. But the most important thing to do is pretend you are completely unaware of its existence. And the second thing to do is create a cool, mysterious aura about you by doing something absolutely unheard of in any office anywhere. Like move to a smaller cubicle or clean the microwave. This bizarre behaviour will definitely get noticed and pretty soon there will be an entire water cooler discussion group about you. The boss’s most reliable source of information is the watercooler discussion forum, they will pick up that there’s something not right about you, and will immediately think you work for ASIO. Fearing that the corporate cleansers might launch a raid in the middle of the night, they will add you to their joke distribution list.
And once you’re on the list it’s easy to stay there. You don’t have to do much. Just occasionally reply to a mail, with a comment like – very funny, where do you find this stuff, or that’s great – I sent it to my brother/sister/godfather in ASIO and they loved it. And occasionally just to show how friendly you can be, just send a couple of jokes through to the boss, because you will soon realise how hard up on material they are.
The boss’s distribution list may seem to some like a stupid way to move up what’s left of the corporate ladder. But at the moment it’s pretty much the only option left.
Perhaps one day offices, car parks, filtered coffee will return. Maybe one day companies will pay on real performance, and reward people based on actual ability, and promote from within, but until then your only hope of advancement is a joke