Thursday, February 23, 2006

When in Rome...

...okay, so don't do EVERYTHING them n!gs do!

If I've learned anything about trying to be successful at work, it's that you cannot succeed totally going against the grain. Whether your colleagues are b!tches on designer wheels and you aim to be the "nice one," or if everyone at your job prides themselves on being exact replicas of your boss and you strive to be your "own person" (BTW, if trying to be successful in Corporate America, such a thought should NEVER cross your mind), you will inevitably fail if you fail to fit in.

So, as the saying goes: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

It's a loaded statement, for sure, as the Romans weren’t ever been known for being a classy, humble, civilized, kind or fair bunch. At best, they were extravagant and, at their worst, they enjoyed watching people getting devoured by bigger and badder elements. Yet, if you recall being appalled upon first learning what the Romans did for “fun,” how shocked you must have been upon your first realization that you encounter many un-classy, arrogant, uncivilized, mean-as-hell and non-fair folk who like to watch people get trapped and devoured by bigger and badder elements on a daily basis. They're called coworkers.

All of us have probably worked with (or been) that one employee who just never seems to get fit with the group. Nine times out of 10, said person is just not "good" peoples. Whether justified or not, this worker generally carries a bad rep. Worst, at some point in time everybody on the job (including you?) piles onto the "we hate your guts!" bandwagon, even if said worker has never done any thing bad to them personally. I’ll admit to being that b!tch of a colleague, damned to great performance reviews, but little career advancement because my colleagues decided they did not like me or that they could not take direction from me or that they were "scared" (white girl codeword for “I'm jealous heifer out to destroy you!") of me. Yet, since spending the past 15 months in what has to be the modern day workplace's closet crazy-a$$ cousin to Rome - the trading floor - I've oddly enough done quite well, while watching a few others fail terribly.

One such case involves (literally) the nicest, sweetest, humble and most-thoughtful person at my job. Matter of fact, being that I live and work in NYC and have always punched my proverbial clock in hella cut-throat industries, said coworker wins the superlative sh!t hands down because she's the ONLY f$cking nice, sweet and humble person that I've EVER known on ANY job!

It’s not that I mean to make traditionally positive traits sound like a bad thing. Nor will I go attacking the poor girl. Besides, she is a dear friend of mine. It’s just that over the past one year, I've seen this chick cry (33 years and tears, ya'll), mope and pout about like she's that cat from Friday who just had his bike stolen. Why? All because her coworkers are “mean” (her word, not mine) to her. Worst off, not only do her coworkers hate (my word) her, but the set of coworkers next to her coworkers hates her a$$, too. Why? Because she's all of those things I mentioned above and - simply put - they're not. They're all Ivy grads, snotty as hell and black-phobic (would have made excellent slave mistresses if ya ask me) and strong, Type-A personalities. You know, the kind of folk who probably encountered some horrid event early in life that damned (blessed?) them with that "Got mine; so you betta get yours" mentality. And she’s happy-go-lucky ALL the damn time; positive and perky. Again, not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just that considering we work in an industry where whoring your morals and principals for the sake of a few hundred-thousand bucks is expected, well, her personality is, well, a bad thing. So, in all fairness to the haters, they probably look upon girly with angst only rivaled by an office Lucifer forced to share a cubicle with our homey J.C.

Being a friend, I tried unsuccessfully to get "the nice one" to match their might with might; bitchiness with bitchiness; sh!tiness with sh!tiness and aloofness with aloofness. She said she couldn't do it...it's just "not her."

Well, apparently, a decent bonus and solid job security wasn't her either. She's now on her way to work with yet another group because the old one screwed her over royally. And she's white, just like them.

I remember graduating from college and always saying "I don't come to work to make friends...all they need to worry is my work" and thinking I had every right to feel that way. So, for a few years, I failed and failed again to feel welcomed (read: got pushed out) on the job. Then, one day, I read a career-related book’s preface by Peter Noel, which stated that black folks at work are still the only ones who believe in the system of 'meritocracy.' Yet, it has to be one of the biggest lies America has told. Translation: You won't get ahead just because you do an "excellent" job; nobody is gonna promote you’re a$$ just because you’re an excellent worker. Motherf#ckers better like you, too.

The act of fitting in on the job may not guarantee that you'll get everything you deserve, but I bet that if you don't, it can guarantee that you won't a thing at all.

CG./R.

9 comments:

Harlem Songstress said...

Bravo! Bravo!!! re: the closing comment. Wells said CG.

Cocoa Girl said...

Thank you, thank you, your Honor.

Supa said...

Amen. So true!!

turn on red said...

Just perusing and I gotta say it is comforting to find such truths. Thanks.

Cocoa Girl said...

Thanks for stopping by, turn on red! Come back now, ya hear!

EmergingPhoenix said...

OMG!! This is exactly what I am going through. My first experience out of school in the Corporate world was a good one (then again, EVERYONE loved me at my first company). I was just passing through, but I am happy I read this post.

It will be food for thought...

Single Ma said...

You are absolutely right cuz it's not what you know, but who you know. Especially in a bureaucratic environment like the gov't, your technical skills will only get you to a certain level. Successfuly performing your job is required if you want to keep your job, but climbing the ladder requires people skills. I've reached that plateau in my career so I'm just startin to learn how important politickin can be.

Cocoa Girl said...

Girl, politickin ain't no joke! I've seen perfectly marginal employees fast tracked because people like them. Kissing brown is very real.

Cocoa Girl said...

BTW, Phoenix, good luck with your situation!