Corporate Stories

Story 19 Importance of peer collaboration.
After 7 month of working with the new boss I noticed she never checks if assignments are completed or not. At the same time I am neither being rewarded for my accomplishments nor punished for failing. In a while I decided to check with my colleagues reporting to the same boss to check how it works for them. That is when I learnt that in most cases they were assigned the very same tasks at the same time and also were concerned about lack of any kind of feedback or follow up. So we assumed our boss does not remember and decided to check our assumption on the first upcoming task by checking with each other and not doing it. At the end we developed a strategy that we would start working on something only if asked at least twice which reduced our workload tremendously.

Conclusion: Communication and collaboration with your peers is very important. Make sure you have trustworthy relationship with your colleagues. It may help you lots of time and unnecessary hard work, especially if you see something really strange coming from your boss.

Story 18 Recognize twisted questions.

Company management invited external consultants to improve work environment. Consultants scheduled multiple 1:1 meetings with each of the employees and asked different psychological questions including some work related questions. For example, ‘what was your challenge in the past year’. In most cases answers were twisted in the negative way. If answer was like ‘payments to our vendors got delayed which makes it difficult to establish good work relationships’ the next meeting you was asked if you ‘insist that financial director is not doing his work properly. And Why do you think it is happening?’ Work atmosphere was not improved and some people were even fired after.Conclusion: Remember that some questions are not straightforward and answers can be twisted. Be very careful answering these questions and talking to strangers in the company.

Story 17 Lost team members.
Find a member of staff was let go and was not informed until invoices did not get sent out to a client. It was the lost persons role first my team and there was no one to replace him.

Conclusion:This and other situations showed no transparency or trust from management.


Story 16 Mandatory training experience.

I was completing a 3-day mandatory training on how critical and central our SW business is to our corporate strategy and sales process… passing the “final exam”… only to see an announcement within 2 hours of passing that exam stating that the SW business is being sold off because it is not “central to what the company is.”

Conclusion: I learnt nothing from this situation, and that includes the 3-day training.smiley-face-blue


Story 15 Beware of political games.
Most of the new hires in our bank were coming by other employee references. Most new employees were referenced either by someone under either Financial or Operational director management. Later on these people were spread across various departments however traces of who came from where we’re still known. As a consequence those who came from the Financial director’s side never could move to the departments supervised by Operational directors people and vice versa.

Conclusion: There are always political games in big corporations. Try to find out the rules. While you may think that your transition was not successful due to lack of certain skills – the actual reason can be different.

Story 14 Never underestimate yourself.

We were flying from the United States to work with our partners in the UK.  While flying for the first business meeting to London, we imagined all the  high tech environment and fancy analytical tools we are going to see. It  made us feel very insecure about our skills. At the meeting we learnt that  all company analytics was done in simple Excel spreadsheets. That is it! It boosted our self-esteem as we could offer more advanced solutions. By  the way, we also noticed that any conversation there starts with the  weather questions.

Conclusion: Do not underestimate yourself. Get all details first before deciding on anything or scare yourself away. Be aware of cultural  differences when meeting partners from other countries. smiley-face-star

Story 13 Anonymous feedback.

We were asked to perform an anonymous assessment of our colleagues during one of process improvement sessions. However there were names on the top of each questionnaire. The manager planned to use results for identification of areas for improvements and staff development. In a while the manager was promoted and one of our peers who participated in assessment was promoted to the position. While cleaning the desk the new manager found assessments sheets and read all the answers and names. Many conflicts were created after and lots of the people befriended each other.

Conclusion: Make sure that anonymous is really anonymous. If not sure answer as if it was not. Beware of the technology as well. Some of the anonymous computer assessments can be traced to your physical computer location and name.

Story 12 Hold your horses.
I am working in the pharmaceutical company and we had a team meeting for pre-clinical* trial. The team was global and included American as well as Asian colleagues. As we discussed project progress the American team lead got new details and asked to ‘Hold on the horses’. The next day I got a call from our Japanese team members who was very apologetic and explained to me that they did not know that horses will be involved at this study and they have no place where they can hold the horses. That was really funny as I had to explain it was just used as an idiom and no actual horses are involved.
Note: * Pre-clinical stage of the trial is associate with before human testing and may even involve animal testingConclusion: Try to avoid idioms or any local jargon when dealing with international teams. It highly increases chances of misinterpretation. smiley-face-star
Story 11 Revealing habits of upper management.

When I got promoted to the management position I discovered a lot of new habits of Executive managers. Majority of them were very careful when dealing with others. They always tried to collect maximum background information especially if dealing with a higher level. At the same time they are very keen on who is saying what, behind their backs and trying to be highly aware of the  ‘backstage’ games played in the company.

Conclusion: There are always ‘backstage’ games. If you are not aware you may easily lose a project battle or even a position.

Story 10 Be aware of virtual presence during the meetings

My manager was always double or triple booked for the meetings according to the calendar. In a while I noticed that my manager (Mr. A) does not show up at either of the meetings but sending deputies instead. One day it was my turn to be deputy for one of the Mr. A’s remote meetings scheduled back to back where my manager also had to participate. As I was walking into the room for the consecutive meetings 10 minutes ahead of schedule I saw Mr. A was present incognito on the phone for the meeting I was deputy for. Even when was asked about work status my boss still pretended not to be there. I was very happy that I handled questions regarding status of my boss work with dignity, even though had no idea of the actual status. Instead I just said that I will check and reassured that Mr. A was working very hard on that task.

Conclusion: If you do not see or hear something it does not mean he/she is not there. Never say anything you would not want to be heard by those who you think are not there. Especially be careful when remote technologies are involved.

Story 9 Overcharging the companies

One of the consultants who lived far from the office had permission to come to work later, e.g. 10:30-11 am and stay later to avoid waking up very early. Every day around 4pm he was going to gym leaving his jacket in the cube and computer on. Nobody minded as they were aware he was working later hours. In 6 month the manager got suspicious and requested time card records to learn that his employee was never returning from the gym. For the 6 month, this consultant was charged 8 hours a day while working only 5, 11am to 4pm.

Conclusion: Wherever you work there are is always ways not to work…But not for too long.

Story 8 What it takes to establish authority

I was nominated as a new department manager after our company merged with another. My new department consisted of employees from the other company. While we discussed new projects it became very clear that they are not happy about my nomination and even trying to sabotage it by giving unreasonably stretched timeline estimates. For example, they stated it will take 3 months of work with 3 people to complete the task which should not take longer than one week with one person. I did not say anything but being a technical person I wrote a programming code for this project myself within the next week. During the next status meeting, when I asked them how the task was going they still insisted on the original timeline. So I presented my code and expressed hope that it may help them and fill in the gaps in case they did not know how to do it. The following meeting went much smoother and they reported that the code really helped and the whole project went much faster from now on. Later on one of the department members thanked me for helping to keep them honest.

Conclusion: In some cases the best option is to spend extra time and effort on proving your expertise to establish authority rather than just wasting words and engage into discussions. While it might be a longer journey, It took me 1.5 years in this case, the reward is much bigger. smiley-face-star

Story 7 Corporate politics

The new executive manager called global meeting to make a speech on how our expertise are valuable to the company. One month later a new outsourcing model was announced and all our departments were impacted. The very same manager called another meeting and made another speech explaining how our expertise is of value. It was a little weird to hear two completely opposite speeches from the very same person within one month. We even made a joke that there are were two types of speeches somewhere in the archive: motivational and demotivational.

Conclusion: Some Upper management are like politicians, never hesitating to lie. Try to read between the lines whenever you could, otherwise do not take it too serious.

Story 6 What may happen at the meetings when you absent

We had virtual meeting. I dialed in couple minutes late for the teleconference and did not introduce  myself while connecting as someone was presenting and I did not want to
be rude. When our group was asked about the project I was part of, my  colleague being unaware of my presence explained that our project was  delayed because of me. She explained that I did not get in touch with  other groups in time which was not true. So I had to reveal my presence
to be able to protect myself.

Conclusion: So, if you are observing a meeting you can learn a lot of new things about yourself. Try to be present at all meetings, and be on  time if you don’t want to be a scapegoat.

Story 5 “Dog@Work’ Day
We had ‘bring your dog to work’ on Fridays in our company. I was  meeting with our clients on one of the Fridays. After the meeting we were  walking to the exit. While I was sharing restaurant options and exchanging  handshakes with our customer, little dog stopped by and peed on his  pants. smiley-face-blue
Story 4 Fight for your opinion

Bank released new product to the market and we ensure accurate  bookkeeping while awaiting a new software. As our department reports  can be done in different ways, I tried to convince management to use the  less labor consuming software based on my previous experience. Even  though the management seemed to be resist to my solution, I insisted  and it was finally accepted. Afterwards the amount of transactions in all  products skyrocketed and my solution became even more beneficial and  efficient. Management reached out back to me with the special thank you  and I even got big Bonus at the end of the year.

Conclusion: If you feel confident about a specific project you must bring up your opinion and even insist if you believe that your idea is really  beneficial to the company.

Story 3 Importance of Work Life balance

Real Estate market was going down and the company had layoffs. One of  my colleagues became very stressed out and one morning when he got to  the office he was told that he is OK and he will stay with the company.  However he was so overwhelmed with all the stress that after hearing the  good news he got heart attack on his way to the parking lot and died.

Conclusion: Work should not take over your whole life. Get back up plans, save money, add something else to your life.

Story 2 Questions unanswered

One of SMEs on the director position has a responsibility to conduct  trainings to the employees. However, she could not answer any of the  questions at the end of the training session. So whenever new question  was coming she always responded that she will get back on it tomorrow  and never will. When one tried to get response from her next day she was
saying tomorrow again.


Story 1 Overtime Charges
Once I came at work and noticed my coworker packing. I asked what is going on, but he said nothing. I started worrying that they were getting rid of all the consultants while, I was one of them. I checked with my manager who reassured that it was only that person. Later on I found out he was regularly bringing his girlfriend to work to have fun after hours and was charging the company for overtimes.