Friday, October 02, 2009

Dying to Work or is Work Killing You?

Another suicide this week of a France Telecom worker, adding to a spate of suicides at the partially state-run firm, prompted Rupert Wright to remember and review his favourite French business book.

‘Bonjour Paresse’ is by Corinne Maier an underling at Electricite de France.

Her book (‘Hello Laziness’) suddenly became a bestseller in 2004 when an idiot manager at the company threatened to sack her for writing such a scurrilous guide to office life. This led to a front-page story in Le Monde and thousands of extra sales.

10 Commandments for Work
The author has a very cynical view of the corporate world, which includes a list of 10 commandments. Here is a sample of her gems:

1. You are a modern day slave. There is no scope for personal fulfilment. You work for your pay cheque at the end of the month, full stop.

2. It's pointless to try to change the system. Opposing it simply makes it stronger.

3. What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible and spend time [not too much, if you can help it] cultivating your personal network so that you’re untouchable when the next restructuring comes around.

4. You’re not judged on merit, but on whether you look and sound the part. Speak lots of leaden jargon: people will suspect you have an inside track.

5. Never accept a position of responsibility for any reason. You’ll only have to work harder for what amounts to peanuts.

6. Make a beeline for the most useless positions – research, strategy and business development – where it is impossible to assess your “contribution to the wealth of the firm”. Avoid “on the ground” operational roles like the plague.

7. Once you've found one of these plum jobs, never move. It is only the most exposed who get fired.

8. Learn to identify kindred spirits who, like you, believe the system is absurd through discreet signs (quirks in clothing, peculiar jokes, warm smiles).

9. Be nice to people on short-term contracts. They are the only people who do any real work.

10. Tell yourself that the absurd ideology underpinning this corporate bullshit cannot last for ever. It will go the same way as the dialectical materialism of the communist system. The problem is knowing when...

Link to Full Article
Rupert Wright, Make a Beeline for the Most Useless Positions, The National, 1 October 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at) on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: The book cover and the author.