Whistleblowing is a stigmatizing act. For every person that looks up to you, there’s one that looks down on you and a dozen that want to destroy you. Leaking the secrets of Corporate America labels you for the rest of your life, and it’s not easy. Your boss teaches you everything you need to know about how to perform your job, but they won’t teach you how to seek justice if your job hurts people. Here are some other secrets your boss doesn’t want you to know.
1. Your Boss Needs You
When you look up your company online or see them in the news, it’s always the executives they discuss. You’re just some number at the bottom of the ladder, so it’s easy to feel like you can’t affect anything in your company. The truth is the real power in corporations isn’t held by executives; the real power lies in the hands of those working in the trenches.
Your boss probably can’t do your job. When you hear about Jamie Dimon and Brian Moynahan leading Chase and Bank of America to foreclose on peoples’ homes, they’re not doing it personally. They don’t even know how to perform a foreclosure if they wanted. A leader barking orders is just a lone nut without followers to carry out those orders. This is why they go out of their way to keep employees from unionizing. Never forget that.
2. Your Boss Can’t Be Your Friend
Your boss wants to be your friend, but they can’t. When push comes to shove (and it happens often), they may have to let you go, and that’s difficult to do to a friend. Even if they like you, they can’t do much to help you if you’re in a position where numbers are tracked.
If their boss doesn’t notice, your coworkers most certainly will. If it’s between your livelihood and your boss’s, you better believe your boss will choose self-preservation
3. Your Boss Guesses…A Lot
When I worked in management, guessing was nearly a daily occurrence. It’s not that we didn’t know what we were doing – it’s that so much work comes in, so many holes need plugged, that you have to do the best you can with what you have. Part of being a boss is taking an educated guess and seeing what the outcome is.
Taking chances that pay off mean you’re a great leader, while a chance that fails can put you in hot water. Don’t let it get to you; I once broke something that crashed the backend processing system (overnight updates) that got the head of Countrywide’s IT department paged at 3am. I survived years between that and my departure from the company – this is the nature of the job.
If you aspire to a position in management, show your boss you’re not afraid to take chances.
4. You Have More Power than You Think
I’m just some guy who once worked in a cubicle in some schmuck position until I spoke up. Soon I was speaking to lawyers, regulators, and more. In doing so, multiple global corporations got hit for billions, and it’s still happening. If I can do it, so can you.
5. You Can’t Speak Freely
Think you’re free? Post something controversial on the Internet and then act up at work. You may feel like your work is your life and your associates are your friends and family, but they’re not. When you leave a job, your work circle fades, save for a special few. Some are by choice, and others are out of your control. Watch what you say.
6. You’re Always the Last to Know
Everything in business is on a need-to-know basis. Associates get informed just before the media informs the public. Your company does this so they can preach about how the media is misinformed and you have the real inside story.
7. Your Company Will Steal Your Work and Contacts When You Leave
You signed a lot of contracts when you took your job; those contracts stole everything you did during your career. Remember when NBC kept Conan O’Brien off TV? He’s not unique, and neither are you.
Even Ari Gold couldn’t take his clients on Entourage, and he was backed by an entire team of writers. Be aware of this going in. Business is about more than just money.
8. You Get Blamed for Everything
I stepped up for my people anytime the chips were down, but when my team got blamed for a failure of mine, I didn’t exactly step up to the plate. I was one of the more generous managers too. If you think your boss doesn’t do the same, you’re delusional.
Some will even throw you under the bus individually (see above points for more examples). The motto CYA is much more prolific in business than YOLO. Act accordingly.
Featured photo credit: New Line Cinema via wwws.warnerbros.co.uk