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Coffee Break

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by Clarissa A. French

When it comes to ensuring job security, it may not be what you do, but how you do it.

Because you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but the only person you really need to fool is the boss.

Following are some tips to make the boss think you're indispensable, yet enable you to avoid most of the piddly, getting-things-done activity that interferes with the more vital tasks of surfing the 'Net, drinking coffee and eating doughnuts.

1. Create your own filing system. Invent a filing system that no one else understands, preferably based on the Etruscan alphabet. (Some people like Greek Linear B. I say it's a matter of taste.)

Insist that anyone seeking information from the files find it themselves, and treat them like idiots when they can't. Give obscure instructions, and be sure to mislabel the hanging file folders.

After 10 minutes of watching the co-worker squirm, give a disgusted sigh, reach into the file and whip out the

required information without even looking.

2. Delegate everything. Whatever work you are assigned to do, find someone lower on the totem pole to do it for you, then take all the credit. Repeat as necessary.

If caught dumping your workload on hapless underlings, look wounded and talk in hurt tones about your unappreciated efforts to provide staff with "career development opportunities."

Graciously accept the boss' apology for failing to recognize your progressive management philosophy.

3. Become an in-house expert. Make yourself look alert, aware and involved by pointing out faults in co-workers' management abilities, productivity and/or use of technology.

Also, if your boss does not understand computers and you do not have a techie on staff to show you up your ship has just rolled in!

You can achieve the status of computer god by merely throwing around a little jargon: "The connectivity of the JPEG file is skewing the dpi. I'll just adjust the mouse port and reset the LAN scroll-bar telephony."

4. Always be busy. When the boss drops by your desk, be so enraptured by the paperwork in front of you that you "don't even realize he's there" (make sure the documents are right-side up to give verisimilitude).

Look startled when he taps you on the shoulder, then rub your eyes and squint as he tells you he's worried you might be working too hard.

5. Always be someone else. Whenever one of those tiresome customers calls the office, answer, but pretend to be someone else. Give vague responses, mutter and pretend you don't speak English. Promise whatever will get them to hang up and leave you alone, then do nothing.

When a customer complains about this kind of treatment, be the first to criticize the office staff's poor communication skills. Issue a righteous memo discussing your company's sacred duty to its customers. Repeat as necessary.

6. Document everything you do. This is where your creativity comes into play. You can use office-speak and jargon to make slacking off sound like work.

For example, after spending an hour gossiping with co-workers and griping about the day-old doughnuts in the break room, report to the boss that you "held a networking breakfast meeting to discuss shortcomings of the food-service-industry segment."

Likewise, you can waste an entire afternoon picking lint off the little rubber ball inside your computer mouse, then report that you "engaged in in-depth systems maintenance to optimize the efficiency of work station equipment."

7. Document everything you don't do. Each day, establish a huge and ridiculously detailed list of all the things you have to get done that day.

Go into minute detail regarding hourly or half-hourly deadlines for items that are not needed and, in fact, will never be produced, requested or reviewed.

If you do this right, the list will be 10 times more impressive than the actual work (which you will never get around to) and you'll look busy while doing it (see No. 4).

Keep printouts of these detailed lists in a highly visible location at all times, adding to the impressive stack of paper on your desk and augmenting your illusion of productivity.

8. Be part of a successful team. The key here is to find a team that is successful, efficient and has already divided up all the work to be done among its current members.

Attend all team meetings and nod sagely during discussions. Be loud in your praise of the team. Be gracious by sharing credit with the team when the boss praises "your" work.

The only danger with this situation is when the team has unassigned tasks that might be assigned to you. To avoid this, plead your busy schedule and back it up by dragging out the lists produced in steps 6 and 7.

9. Call a meeting. In fact, call several. Waste as much time as possible by reiterating the problem at hand a minimum of four times before anyone is allowed to start discussion. If a solution involving work on your part is brought up, use sarcasm to mercilessly destroy the idea and its originator.

If a person attending your meetings continually brings up ideas of this type, "lose" his copies of the next few meeting notices, then complain to the boss about his failure to show up and his lack of "team spirit."

10. Pursue martyrdom. Provided you have followed the steps listed up to this point, you have already convinced your boss that you are indispensable. When others bring up your shortcomings, as they inevitably will, be offended, outraged and hurt.

Outline your vast accomplishments, your busy schedule and your contributions to the team. Conclude by tearfully offering to leave, since you're so clearly unappreciated.

You may even get a raise.

INSET CAPTION:

If your boss does not understand computers and you do not have a techie on staff to show you up your ship has just rolled in![[In-content Ad]]

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