5 simple rules for work

① Always give the job my best effort, every day.

② Go above and beyond what’s expected (but also, leave work at work).

③ Never badmouth the boss, or the company.

④ Help my teammates, but avoid excess chit-chat.

⑤ Be honest with management. Never BS them.

I am completely seriously serious about all these rules. Call me old-fashioned, but I figure the job is paying my rent and putting ham on my sandwiches, and my part of the deal is to give them their money's worth.

There’s always a 'but', though, and the 'but' is — I am not willing to be the only person who gives a damn.

I’ll work by these five rules until/unless I’m working for shitty people or a shitty company. When that happens, screw the rules. I’ll fit right in by being a shitty worker. 

At my current job, I played by my five rules for seven years, a year or so longer than the company deserved. I pulled overtime when it was needed, trained the new hires, worked special projects, made suggestions that saved the company many thousands of dollars, posted great numbers, and got stellar performance reviews.

That was then, of course. Now is now. New management took over (long before the looming layoffs), and they've all but announced that the company doesn't give a damn, so to be a 'team player' I now don’t give a damn myself.

Rule #5, though, is still in effect: Be honest with management. Never BS them. That's why I’m retirement age, but working an entry level job where I’m about to be laid off. Bad management hates honesty, prefers BS, so I follow Rule #5 just to be a pain.

Yesterday, for example.

My department’s work is to quickly audit newly-issued insurance policies, and if no errors are spotted, we’ll print and mail the policy. We're supposed to finish our work and mail your policy within three days after you bought it, and for my first seven years at the job, that’s what we did.

When one of my co-workers quit, though, management decided not to replace her. Our turnaround time began slipping further and further into the future, maxing out at three weeks instead of three days.

Complaints from customers skyrocketed. Some angry agents quit, and started selling our competitors' policies instead. And yet, management refused to hire anyone, refused to authorize overtime, and refused to give a damn.

After a year of management shrugs, though, it suddenly became very important that we get our workflow down to a 3-day turnaround again. A fleet of temps was hired — so many temps that we’re actually overstaffed now — and we made progress. The backlog quickly shrank.

Why did management have such a complete change of heart? Money. Our work is being outsourced, and there’s a many-thousand-dollar surcharge from the outsourcing company, if workflow is outside of mandated turnaround times when they take over, in January. Management still doesn't care about our angry customers and agents, only about saving money. 

We finally got caught up earlier this week, and my inbox has been flooded with emails from executives all over the company, saying "Congratulations!" and "3 days again — super!" and “Great work!”

This annoys the everfuckin' fuck out of me. It makes it sound as if we did something special, when all we did was have enough workers

So I sent this short email to my boss, her boss, and to all the eleven executives who’ve send “Great work!” emails:

From September 2020 to October 2021, we were outside of our 3-day turnaround times, and not by just a little. We’ve been weeks behind, leading countless customers and agents to call, asking, “Where’s this policy?” None of this happened because of COVID, or an increase in sales, or any unanticipated event. It happened because management decided our department should be short-staffed.

Our work is being outsourced, and I’ll be terminated in a few months (or sooner if this email is misconstrued) but I am wondering whether anyone in management understands: This was all preventable. If we’d been fully-staffed a year ago, we never would’ve fallen behind.

That was sent and CC'd everywhere yesterday morning. A day later there's been no response. 

I'd be dazed and amazed if anyone replied honestly, and said, "Yeah, we were dumb. We'll try not to be so dumb again." That's a metaphysically impossible response, where I work.

There’s a 50/50 chance no-one will ever reply, a 25% chance someone will send a bullshit “Thank you for your concern” memo, and a 25% chance I’ll be fired. Of these possibilities, I have no real preference.



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  1. >Go above and beyond what’s expected (but also, leave work at work).

    Haven't read the whole entry yet, but I gotta disagree. The more you go "above and beyond," The more management sees it as your baseine, and they expect even more.

    Fuck dat. Do what is required, and what makes your job easier.

    1. Hard work has never gotten me ahead, and lazy work has never gotten me behind.

  2. Self-preservation says to do what you can and no more. No extra steps. Every manager I ever worked for tried to push the staff to be more productive. All we got for it was more work. Never a raise. The manager got that. I've always made sure that something doesn't get done just to avoid being asked to do more.

    1. I don't mind working hard if I feel it's worth it, but never do it if I don't.


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