Survival of the Fittest has never been more apt a mantra than in corporategiri. If one is not savvy than surviving the corporate jungle is not only fraught with venomous creatures but can spell the death knell of what could have been a great career.

So before you become one of those who use the IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN phrase, read on.

Like in the previous posts, I am once again reiterating: Assess yourself and whether you perceive yourself as a fit into the organization. You can do this by scanning the company website, asking around people who have worked/working/know of someone who worked in the firm; read the job description carefully; ask pertinent questions during your interview round instead of just trying to snag the job – does the company have a proper growth map charted out for you, what is their emphasis on training, do they have a window frame before you are moved up to the next level (and this does not necessarily have to be a promotion), do they have good HR and management practices in place, and other questions that may give you some ideas about the corporate set up in the company

The first few months in the organization is a time of adjustment, irrespective of whether you are a newbie to the job scene or an experienced veteran. Learning the ropes, trying to fit in, surviving peer pressure (yes, there is peer pressure even at the workplace), inadvertently stepping on fragile egos, unlearning part of what you have learned, grasping the organizational hierarchies (even in a flat structure there is always some semblance of a pecking order). In such situations, FINDING A MENTOR will help you adapt faster and better. Your mentor does not necessarily have to be from your department, your immediate supervisor or somebody in an influential position. It could just be your peer or someone who knows their jobs superiorly well, the workings of the company without getting engulfed in the politicking, and someone with good work ethics. Here again, the key is not to use your mentor as a diving board into the cesspool of office politics. I have come across several individuals who clung to mentors only to find themselves brushed in the same color adopting characteristics, expressions and idioms that resembled their mentors. This sort of behavior and attitude stood in their path to growth since peers thought they had the same negative qualities of the mentor, and management thought they were further spreading a bad work culture.

Learn skill sets that are relevant to the job, even if it means you spend additional time in brushing up your existing skills or investing additional time in learning skills that are important to your current job role. If this means staying back late for an hour or two or getting in before others do, it is a worthy investment. Unfortunately, the flip side to survival is learning things fast. Unlike earlier, where a newcomer to a workplace was given a reasonably long learning period, now it is expected that a joinee be productive within the first month and a half. By the time the probationary review comes up, a joinee should have learned and mastered his job role, and at least tried to expand his responsibilities or shown initiatives to do this. I know of several instances, myself included (  🙂  ) where probationary periods were extended because of slow learning, lack of focus and lack of initiatives. I know of several ex-colleagues who had performed superlatively in their chosen profession but failed to make the mark when they joined a new organization where they had to learn everything afresh.

Confidence. This important characteristic is chucked at the threshold of the organization most people join in. Do not underplay your strengths or disbelieve in yourself. There will be enough and more people who will be quick to pick on your faults, project the same under a magnifying glass and make you feel worthless and incompetent. YOU DO NOT need to do this job yourself. Remember, if you were not smart or thought to be a fitting candidate to your job, the company would not have hired you in the first place. Have confidence in yourself and believe in what you stand for, what your skills and talents are and enhance these capabilities. If at any point in time you feel you are or your IDEAD are being dumbed down, approach somebody who supersedes the person/.people doing this. Of course, be selective about taking such an approach. It should not be the case of crying Wolf. Often times than not, there is perhaps something that can be improved upon. But whatever be the case, DO NOT lose your confidence. Self-doubt is the first path to professional suicide!!

Peer group. Like in college, there are peer groups at the workplace too. Nothing new, but the old adage holds good. You cannot please all the people all of the time. You cannot be a loner. Remember, you spend almost all of your waking hours at this enclosure you call an office. Be wise to chose your enemies and wiser in choosing your friends. An ex-colleague once remarked in anger: “I am not here to make friends, I am here to work.”

Well-expressed but having friends makes a good workplace better and a bad workplace bearable.

I invite readers to write in their thoughts about Survival in the Workplace, and if they have found better ways of thriving in the corporate jungle. Till next time, cheers


3 thoughts on “Survival

  1. Well written blog.

    Going by my relatively small experience, it is impossible to be neutral & aloof while attempting to go up the career ladder, in an organization.

    If anybody knows of such an organization, please let me know. I will try my luck there!!

    At some point in time, one has to take sides and get into office politics, just to ensure one’s survival. I had to 😦

  2. @rocksta, i understand what you said. easier said than done to be neutral and objective especially in a smaller set up. and most of the times it is a case of fit in or fit out!!
    🙂 yes, i will let you know if an ideal workplace exists.

  3. Whatever little time I have been working, I have realized I am a loner. Can’t go out in groups. Which seems to have worked out fine…so far. I usually don’t get a load of office gossip becaue I stay away but that’s allright. But at the same time have managed to win some good friends. So there…

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