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Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them Paperback – August 25, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
"Your number one job is to keep your job," Shapiro, a former human resources executive, writes in this informed and disillusioned take on the corporate life, so don't ever "publicly complain, disagree or express a negative view," take more than one week of vacation at a time, "volunteer," or "tell anyone what you're doing." When asked to do anything, acceptable responses are "sure" and "of course," always accompanied by a smile. Your dress style "should match as closely as possible the style of those at the top." Don't make friends at work-it's "deadly" to want to be liked. The book reads like a guerilla survival manual for the employment jungle written by a hardened survivor ("Do you feel there's something...looming over your career, but can't quite put your finger on it? It's not your imagination. It's real."), and explains why companies preach enlightened attitudes-but don't practice them-and why managers and co-workers will not tell you about your career-limiting moves. Though Shapiro's this-is-war outlook may fit some workplaces, her mercenary advice won't work for people whose number one job is to get a job that doesn't require these sacrifices.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“A business book that reads like a page-turner. What a concept. The author's startling and thought-provoking insights make this a must-read wake-up call for all employees who want to know the truth about how their ‘promotability' is decided. Read it and reap.” ―Sam Horn, author of Tongue Fu! and Take the Bully by the Horns
“Corporate Confidential is a great resource for all levels, from new entrants to executives. Shapiro’s list of the most common mistakes managers can make, and how to avoid them, is a must-read for anyone interested in getting to the top―and staying there.” ―Tony Lee, editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal.com and CollegeJournal.com
“What you don't know can hurt you, especially in Corporate America. This is the eye-opening book every employee needs to read.” ―Lewis Maltby, President of the National Workrights Institute
“Corporate Confidential lifts the lid of the cauldron and lets employees see what's really going on inside their organizations whether they know it or not. But this book isn't just for employees. Smart executives and managers will treat this as a must-read for the good of their companies and their careers as well.” ―Tony Lee, editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal.com and CollegeJournal.com
“a terrific book...a must-read for anyone intent on managing career risk.” ―Anne Fisher
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Cynthia Shapiro, a career HR director, intends for Corporate Confidential to be a tell-all full of the seedy truths about what's really going on in your organization. The writing has an alarmist tone. Within the first few pages you'll be convinced that your entire career is in jeopardy if not already ruined. The easily spooked need not apply.
She reveals information in the form of various secrets to which she's been privy. Many of these secrets line up with what I've seen in my decade-plus career, but many don't. I've never worked at a company that even had "improvement plans", though I was familiar with them and their true purpose.
Sweeping generalities abound, and sometimes there's no logical fix from a career misstep. For example, when she talks about boss interactions, she says that if you ever cross your boss, your career is utterly ruined as your boss will ensure that your reputation follows you long after they or you have left. That leaves literally no corrective action. Furthermore, that perspective strikes me as extreme.
Yet, for all of the author's cynicism, most of her fixes are as mundane as they are familiar: Do good work, don't cause trouble, learn to work well with difficult people, understand your organization and help it shine, and the like. For a book supposedly full of Corporate Black Magic secrets, that felt like a let down.
I do think the book has a lot of value, especially for younger people new to the workforce. I'd advise against taking the extremism presented in the book to heart, but some of the points and advice are helpful. That's not to say anything the author has presented is untrue or never happens, but I think a saner approach would be to weigh your company against Shapiro's secrets and make your own judgments.
If things aren't happening the way you want, it's not the company's job to bend to your will; it's your job to figure out how you can adapt to your company and provide them with the best service possible. You work for them, they don't work for you. Once you're in a position of power, THEN you can change things from the top down.
You have to play the long game.
Of course this philosophy isn't applicable in all areas of life. Sometimes a revolution from the bottom up is necessary. In your office however, chances are there are no crimes against humanity being committed so just suck it up and do what your boss tells you to do until you've earned the right to have a voice. Like it or not, this is the way the corporate world works. Don't like it? Good. Neither do most of us who have to start at the bottom. Use the rules in this book to get to the top, change the system, and make the world better a better place.
Speaking of which, the last chapter of the book is all about leadership. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
There is so much wisdom packed into these pages, you may find yourself referencing this book for the rest of your prosperous and illustrious career :)
It's also very easy to read. I got through it fast. Of course, some of her advice was already obvious. But I also found some good tips which I hadn't considered.
It's an outstanding book and well worth the money.