We all know who they are: the folks who aren’t going anywhere… certainly not out, but probably also not up much either. They play to “not lose” and work to avoid failure. (After all, who wants to fail? It can be so embarrassing and messy.) Here’s how you can be one of them:
Spend a lot of time fighting to lower your budget so that you can beat it and declare victory. Lots of time. Weeks and weeks of time.
Wait to see what your boss’s opinion is and then echo it energetically. If he hasn’t expressed an opinion, stick close to the opinions of others. Better to “cross the street in a crowd,” as they say.
Be stingy in giving credit to others. Definitely keep the credit for yourself if at all possible. Don’t worry that what you gain in credit today will be more than lost in goodwill from your colleagues….and fast.
Be defensive about mistakes, and avoid admitting them at all costs. Look for someone else to blame. Blame them behind their backs. Hope that they don’t find out about it….because nobody ever gossips in an office, right?
If you’re off consensus industry views, review your assumptions until you fall neatly into line with what everyone else thinks.
Stay in a job you don’t like. Complain about it a lot outside of work (and a good bit at work, too.)
Be studiously non-committal on new ideas from your colleagues. If no-one has thought of it already, it must mean that it won’t work. Better not to declare yourself until it’s clear which way it’s going.
Kill new ventures with budgets and business reviews. Many great new ideas don’t work…..until they do. And that can involve a lot of refining and “pivoting” of the initial concept until the idea, customer, market and timing align. If not given the space and time, an idea can be killed well before given the chance to be successful.
Keep your highest performer even if his / her actions don’t align with your company’s stated values. Allow him / her to do things you would never allow others to do. I mean, you don’t want to lose those sales, do you? You have to make your (now lowered) budget.
Give people big raises only when they come in with another job offer. This will keep down costs in the short-term….and make sure that everyone spends a lot of time interviewing for a new job every few years.
Hire people just like you. Much easier that way. No surprises, no messy different perspectives, more interests in common to talk about in the hallway.
Being pragmatic, there are times in our careers when we can “go for it” and take real professional risks. And then, in many careers, there can come a time when you have to play to “not lose,” perhaps due to family obligations. String too many of these together over the course of your career, and you’re stagnant; act too much like the above and you’re the Eddie Haskell of your office.
Sallie Krawcheck is the Business Leader for 85 Broads, the professional woman’s network. The network is 32,000 women strong, with members from across industries and around the world.
By Sallie Krawcheck –
CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest