Doc Lewin’s 20 Rules for Corporate Dominance: The Rules for Bosses

The Rules for Bosses

1. Tidings of Joy

Never ask for anything from a subordinate until the last minute.  Be sure to make most of your requests are at the end of the day, or, even better, last thing on a Friday.  Be sure to use the word “subordinate” a few times during the conversation, so that they know who’s boss.

2. Hat Part I

Neglect to take into account that workers actually have other work to do than what you are giving them, and assume at all times that they are secretly hoarding time to devote entirely and exclusively to you at the drop of a hat.

3. Hat Part II

Wear a hat to the office.  No one will ever make fun of you for this.

4. Appropriate Messaging

Constantly tell people how disappointed you are in them, as they love this, and it generally makes them work much harder and more productively.

5. Overtime

Assume that the people reporting to you are easily able to work 60 to 70 hours a week and that they have no lives of their own.  Ask them if this is in fact the case: “hey, do you have a life?  No?  I didn’t think so.  You don’t look like you have a life.  Douchecanoe.”  Also, make sure to assume that the extra hours worked above a normal work week are at least as productive as that first 40, as science has pretty much proven that this is true.

6. Sex Politics

Make sure you adequately use your power to enable you to flirt with whoever you choose.  Make it sound, at all times, as though you are doing the worker a favour by showering them with attention and praise, while expecting them to respond to your awkward winks, moans and guffaws with childlike wonder.

I recommend you use this to fasten pages together.

I recommend you use this to fasten pages together.

7. Retention

Understand that it is much much cheaper, more efficient, and better for the company if you wear down the people reporting to you to the point of quitting, and simply replace them with someone new, who you then retrain from scratch.  Also, it is incredibly healthy to turnover your team on a regular basis so that you are the only senior person in the group, and therefore indispensable forever.

8. The Lunch Rush

When ordering in sandwiches for a lunch meeting, make sure you order as much pig-product as you can, because all those rumours about Muslim and Jewish co-workers is surely a myth.  Before the meal starts, ask for a prayer circle and proceed to talk about the love Jesus had for ham.  Oh wait…

9. But That’s How I Had It

Make sure as a supervisor that you are equally abusive and unreasonable to the people reporting to you as your own supervisor was to you; alternately, make sure that as a supervisor, you act in a manner that you never would outside of the workplace.  Another way of thinking about this is to hoard up all the evil thoughts you have ever had and save them for the moment you enter your workplace, first snarling at the secretary and then kicking the photocopier as you proceed to ream out the first person who walks into your office with a set of expletives that further wilt the near-dead plants you keep on your window ledge.

10. Kids These Days

As a supervisor, make sure that you expect a new hire fresh out of school to instantaneously know exactly what you have learned over a decade or two in the workplace; alternately, make sure that you misconstrue the bulk of your own experience as being indicative of how much smarter you are than people coming out of school these days.

11. Kids These Days: The Sequel

Make sure at all times that you assume people coming out of school are identical to how they always were, and that they could not possibly have different priorities or interests that you have to take into account; alternately, assume that you can institute policies or provide supervision that will never be affected by societal shifts in the workplace, for you are an island.  Repeat.  You are an island in time and space, not affected by either, and your memories of the way it was are far more important than some trivial thing called reality.

12. Employee Growth Trajectory

Never ever let one of your employees become a manager after they have proven that they have the ability to be good at it; make sure that you maintain tight control over every project, whether you know what’s going on with it or not, otherwise you may inadvertently succeed in actually allowing a worker to grow into their potential and achieve some measure of self-satisfaction and success.

13. Female as a Gender

For male supervisors, make sure you maintain the hallowed principle of the wage, respect, and responsibility gap between male and female employees.  If this becomes an issue, inform the objecting female that this is necessary because only females can procreate, and thus they already have a leg up.  If they threaten to take the issue to Human Resources, give them a copy of the Joy of Cooking and allow them to bake you some muffins for tomorrow.  Pretend to enjoy them.

14. Male as a Gender

For female supervisors, make sure you are prepared to heartily endorse the ascension of a male minion to a level above you, even though said male has not showered in eighteen days, cannot string more than six words together, and inadvertently (or so he says) inserted his penis into a hole punch.  When he becomes your boss, be sure to read the company manual that instructs you on how to do all his work for him and still let him have the credit, as this manual has been developed over roughly ten thousand years of civilized thought and appears to be strangely irrevocable.

Workplace equipment.  Use carefully.

Workplace equipment. Use carefully.

15. Race in the Workplace

Not touching that with a ten-foot pole.  Just saying.

16. Mentorship

Do not mentor people.  There is no such thing as mentoring.  Actually, mentoring is what you call the remains of insects on the windshield, which are easily removed with a flip of a windshield wiper switch and a liberal dose of wiper fluid.  Alternately, mentor in the worst way possible, being as overbearing, controlling and micromanagerial as possible in order to give your employees a proper example of how not to mentor.

17. Big Picture Thinking

Do not take the time to explain why you are asking someone to do something, as the big picture is completely unimportant to the average feeble-minded worker.  They will not understand the big picture.  They do not need to know it.  If they ask why they are being requested to do something, show them your favorite paperclip and proceed to spend a half an hour explaining the story of how you found it and what it means to you, until they have forgotten what they asked in the first place.  Leave in a huff, exasperated at the time you have wasted on this worthless minion.

18. Clarity

As a supervisor, be as vague as possible when explaining tasks, because clarity is exactly the same thing as doing someone’s job for them.  When the work is finally delivered, proceed to ask the worker how many times you have to tell them what it is that you actually wanted, leave, and bang a bathroom stall door a few times whether someone is sitting in there or not.  When returning to the minion, cross your arms and ask them this: “Do you think I don’t know what’s happening here?  Well, do you?”  Maintain your posture until the employee slinks away.

19. The Money Gap

If a worker ever proves that you are wrong about something, stare at them while secretly calculating how many weeks it takes for you to make as much money as they will in a year.  Put this date on a calendar.  When the day rolls around, smile sweetly for this co-worker on your way to lunch, and come back after three or four martinis.  Invite the worker to your office.  Close the door.  Point to the calendar and the red X marked on today’s date, and insist that they explain themselves.

20. The Coloured Nose

As a manager, make sure you only value people who unconditionally kiss your splotchy hide at all times, no matter what you do or how badly you do it.  If a person criticizes you even in a humorous way, they are out.  If a person simply wants to be the type of quiet, responsible professional upon which your company relies, and refuses to shower you with superlatives, they are also out.  Conversely, this rule can be written as follows: pick, praise and promote those who love and adore you no matter how bad they are at their job, how much money they lose for the company, and how much shame they bring to their family.

Worst boss ever.  Soon to be looking for a job - anyone want him?

Worst boss ever. Soon to be looking for a job – anyone want him?

142 thoughts on “Doc Lewin’s 20 Rules for Corporate Dominance: The Rules for Bosses

  1. haha how sardonic 🙂 True to life, people are boobs, there’s so many comments I could make here on specific points, but your words speak for themselves! Well done, you oughta think about this being a column.

  2. 21. Since you know more about everyone’s job than they do, assume that they know nothing. This is equally true of those who do not report to you as it for those who do. So feel free to reach across the cube farm and tinker with the duties of anyone.

  3. This is all very funny but I’ve had soul-crushing jobs like this and they’re no joke when you’re in the thick of it. I work for asset management behemoth JP Morgan and it almost cost me my family and sanity. They pay you exceptionally well but you are beaten into a bloody pulp in the process. At JP Morgan, your expected priorities are:

    JP Morgan: First and foremost. Top of your food chain.
    Family: A very distant second.
    Friends: Don’t make us laugh. Friends are for middle management. You wanna be a managing director one day, don’t you?

    During one nine-month period, I never saw my daughters. I became a hollow specter who floated through the halls of my house on Saturdays and Sundays. Oh…but the money.

    I wouldn’t see The Wolf of Wall Street for free. I wouldn’t see it if Marty Scorsese set up a projector and screen in my living room and Leo DiCaprio popped pop corn in my kitchen. I’m not sitting through three hours of Wall Street assholes. I’ve had enough of that, thank you very much.

    • I’m pretty senior at my company, it’s not like JP Morgan but it’s probably a half a billion in annual revenue. It’s big enough to suck you dry of your humanity on a daily basis, and it’s not atypical for me to spend 80 hours at work, and to travel for a couple weeks straight. The only thing I have left is to joke about it. Well, that and possibly just leave it all behind at some point, but we will see about that.

      Every one of the points listed has happened to me. I like to think I’m a good boss and have learned from all the bad examples around me, at least I hope so. I guess I should ask everyone.

      I know what you mean about the money… it’s an addiction. Once you start with it, it keeps building, and then you’ve set up your finances around that steady state income, and start spending almost in expectation of more… it’s a trap, one that’s very hard to get out of. I never wanted to be in the corporate world, but I found myself here, and that idea of staying for a couple of years to check it out has turned into a full-flung career before I knew what was happening. This is entirely my fault. I refuse to let it break me, though. I will find the humour if I can’t find anything else.

      • Pardon me…I meant to say worked for JP Morgan. Past tense. That was about five years ago.

        It pays to keep your overhead LOW. Then, in times of crisis, you’re not being buried alive. One of the reasons I married my wife is that she doesn’t give a shit about material things. Expensive shoes, bags, cars, etc., don’t mean a damn thing to her. It’s a blessing. I have friends whose wives can’t go through their money fast enough. If they ever get laid off, they’re going to be fucked x. 10.

        I don’t like this idea where you feel “fault” for what you’re doing. It’s survival. No need for any guilty feelings.

        • Not fault, really, or guilt. I do well by the people I deal with on a day-to-day basis. But I don’t like to watch people being ground through the corporate mill at times, when I know they deserve better and they are being wasted. But you can’t control everything.

          My wife wouldn’t even take an engagement ring from me. I take her out to shop and force her to buy stuff. She is the greatest person I have ever met, for this and many many other reasons.

        • Yes, at times, but not that often. I probably average 55 to 60 hours per week. The highest I’ve ever logged is 92 hours in a week. We charge by the hour (billable time), so we track this stuff at a detailed level.

          You may not be surprised to hear, Doc, that my writing is most voluminous in the worst weeks. I’m not speaking for the quality, but the harder weeks require the most relief, for me, and that’s in the words.

    • I’ve had enough of Wall Street assholes for all of us, but I’d sit through anything if Marty Scorcese was setting up the projector and Leo was popping the popcorn. Shit, I’d sit through…Showgirls. Twice.

  4. It seems there’s some secret boss manual out there with these exact instructions in them. Sadly, I never got it when I was in management, and people actually liked working for me. The horror!

  5. Having worked for all of these people made me a decent boss when I was one. I remembered that my guys had lives, and would cover them when they needed to be elsewhere. I also didn’t ask anyone to do anything they hadn’t seen me do.

    Having been a boss (and lived), I also decided I would never ever manage anyone again.

    I’m an ideal Lotto Millionaire candidate!

    • I think that’s what it’s all about. Treating people as you would want to be treated. Honestly, I don’t follow that every single time on every single thing, but I always remind myself of that and encourage the people I supervise to do the same to the people they now supervise.

      I love being a boss. I love watching people grow and being bosses themselves. That makes it worth it. If if weren’t for the people, I would so bail.

      I’m with you on the lotto… will keep my fingers crossed for you (and me).

    • They’re all pretty much bad. If it weren’t for the people, and my addiction to the money, I wouldn’t bother.

      Just stuff I needed to get out. Seeing bad managers frustrates me. I figured you might have a take on most of these, or something to add.

      • Pretty much seen ’em all. But I’m extremely fortunate now to be an individual contributor (i.e., I only manage one person…me) who works from home. My boss basically leaves me alone and lets me do my job and is there for me when I need him t remove obstacles. I’m a happy camper.

        • You’re so lucky… That’s a great way to go. I worked from home this morning, actually. Loved it. Got so much done. But now going into the office, where it promises to be an epic storm of chaos. Oh well. I have 22 people reporting now, but only 7 direct. I try to be good, but it’s watching other managers hereabouts that gets me sometimes, and not much I can do about it. Except, you know, write a snarky post.

          • Well, thanks for the snarky post. It brought back some not so fond memories and reminded me how fortunate I am.

            By the way, my boss, who also works from home, has 11 direct reports, each of whom works from home. But we’re all seasoned (i.e., older) professionals who can work well independently and with little to no supervision. And, of course, there is enabling technology that makes it possible. Hurray technology!

            • That’s the way to go. Haven’t figured out how to adequately utilize technology to actually make life easier yet.

              I have one other senior person other than me, the rest are intermediates and juniors. So lots of hands-on and staying with them and keeping them motivated, and making sure they are learning and given the opportunity to push as hard as they want to. We also do a lot of direct client contact, so working from home doesn’t much work on a regular basis. In the craptacular existence of my group, we both have to get the work and do the work, so we’re integrated on procurement and execution.

              Good thing is, I love my people. They are an intensely awesome group of individuals and I do my utter best to treat them well and never to condescend to them. But I’m a bit younger in the company, so my attitude is usually met with frowns from the dinosaurs, who think that if you don’t verbally abuse someone once a day, something must be amiss. Plus the way they treat females in the company… that drives me nuts. 90 percent of the partner’s group here is male.

  6. #7, definitely. Companies always need new blood to clean up the old one.
    I work in a corporate office myself, but I’m lucky that I don’t have to deal with that within my team on daily basis. Still, I worked there long enough that I could have added a few items – things like ignoring all urgent emails until it’s too late, creating detailed procedures for everything then changing them as soon as people start getting used to them, and so on.

  7. I just laughed my ass off through this, so now I get to return the compliment -AND you worked douchecanoe into it!!

    This was my corporate job, the one I had during 9/11. Soul crushing is right. But the condom covered stapler – I wish I’d seen that coming! That’s when I spit out my tea!

    Let’s see – my fave line was probably this gem: “make sure you are prepared to heartily endorse the ascension of a male minion to a level above you, even though said male has not showered in eighteen days, cannot string more than six words together, and inadvertently (or so he says) inserted his penis into a hole punch.”

    This is the hardest I’ve laughed in days. Thank you.

    • You know of course that the douchecanoe bit was for you.

      Soul crushing experiences… it really is. Just the agonizing day-in day-out grind, it never ends. Hence the condom-covered stapler. I think I might be losing it… and that I am okay with that.

      Glad you laughed, Samara. I have some rough bits assembled for tips for employees that I have to get out. You know, after the drudgery finally ends…

        • That was not the most fun photography adventure I’ve ever had. Haven’t told my wife about it yet (she doesn’t read my blog at all really), just waiting for her to use the damn thing so that I can snicker at her.

          You got me into the year of the douchecanoe. It’s sticking, I tell ya.

  8. Good thing I work in government. We don’t have bosses like this. Nope. Not a one.

    Good use of douchecanoe, by the way.

    • Why thank you Midget. Surprisingly, I did not invent the term douchecanoe, apparently (as I’ve been told) it’s been around for a long time. But I’d never heard it until Samara brought it to my attention.

      Well, I’m off to engage in more chicanery. You may not have bad bosses in government, but because of government, we have bad bosses hereabouts. Half my clients are public sector, and they are none too easy to work for, I do say. But I would work for you any day! That would be fun.

  9. Well this was beyond stellar, and made it crystal clear that working with you would be amazing. The highest praise I can give is to say I would never have guessed you were in the think of it, so scorchingly do you parody it.

    My favorite visual was imagining mentees being flung sideways off car windshields. “Yeah, that’ll teach ’em!”

    • Hey Jennie! Good to see you! Glad you liked it. Working with me is awesome. One day I’ll put out the how-to-actually-do-it list, which includes a fully stocked bar in an office drawer that gets used… kinda frequently. Thanks so much for the words. Yes, I am heavily in the thick of it for the forseeable future, and honestly, there are elements of everything here that I have actually seen or experienced.

    • Yeah, I know, Janey. I thought about distributing this anonymously into the mangers’ mailboxes, but I figure it would come back to me pretty quickly and I would be pink slipped in a heartbeat. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing… hey, I could go back to teaching!

          • That does sound serious.

            Can you not go back? Obviously you have your reasons which are none of my business and I don’t want to infringe on your privacy but you sound so passionate about teaching and students need those kinds of teachers. I do believe that teaching is a vocation and it certainly seems to be yours.

            • I’m approaching the edge of that limit in terms of being away from academia too long. Probably need to decide in the next two years, and find the right position that at least offers a tenure track. Honestly, it’s the inertia of staying where I am against the work of trying something else that is the problem.

              No worries about prying, this stuff is always top of my mind. And I do miss teaching. Loved the students most of all.

  10. Hahaha, I see that Samara got to you with her 2014 Year of the Douchecanoe movement. 😀
    And I feel like we were just talking about fiction, and then I pop over here and find this work of complete non-fiction!! You lied to me!! Wait… you mean this isn’t all true? Now I’m confused. It matches up to the corporate world I have always known…

    • Yeah, I know. Samara tells me I should try the non-fiction route, and I do like to here and there, so this isn’t really one of my typical bits to be honest. Great to see you here! I’m honoured.

  11. Ho boy NB…where to start! First…yeah, been there done that. Second, FUCK, I’ve been out of the fulltime workforce for 10 years..this is STILL going on? Third…OMG I need to go back to the beginning…damn! Let’s just say I’m glad I’m no longer in the rat race, this shit drives me fucking crazy. And the comment thread talking about your people working so well that you may become obsolete? Yeah…maybe not likely for you, hope not, but it DOES happen…damn if it doesn’t. Just what I needed…a reminder NOT to get back into the race, though I’ve been considering it. All said and done, don’t think I could handle one more God damned thing this year, and it’s only January!

    • Yeah you’ve already had a tough first two weeks of the years… shit, has it only been two weeks? You’ve had enough to deal with for half a year at least.

      Honestly, it’s still like that, but like I tell people coming out of school, it’s about who you work with. There are crappy managers/supervisors in dynamite companies; avoid like the plague. There are great mentors in crappy companies; that might be okay. It’s just a case of fit, and mutual respect. If that’s there, it’s usually okay. But I have to say, of the say 50 managers in my location, about 80% are absolute turds. The rat race can be okay if you find the right place, but it’s like hell finding that great fit at times. I was lucky, I had a boss who hired me that was always respectful, very progressive, and left his ego at the door. He always listened and would never make you do something he wouldn’t do.

      SB, I almost hate to say this to you, but maybe you should start a moving company…

  12. Thought so too.
    How really could one ever be sure?
    Keep loving them Trent, and appreciate their genuine gestures even though I must tell you it is almost impossible for them to looorrrve you that much. Being a boss to evaluate certain practices and excesses on the part of the workers (who are really only human) may not always earn you their top favours.
    Or is your workplace different?

    • Love doesn’t enter the picture, I think. It’s about respect and treating others as you want to be treated. I doubt my workplace is any different than any other; I just try to carve out my little piece and work according to some principles. I think I am a very good boss. In my position currently, retention of people has been pretty much full.

      • I see then. I guess love might be pushing it too far. I was slightly doubtful too as I typed those letters when making the original comment.
        I guess one could only try one’s best. Good that one is at least mindful of being a “reasonable boss”.

  13. Oh my gosh. I might die, I’m laughing so hard. I escaped from Corporate Hell a year ago, but I made a point to show this to my fiance`, who is still languishing away. He grunted in appreciation, which is all he’s capable of because he’s currently riding the wave of point number 1.

    • You got out? Please show me the escape route. I would jump off a building with a badly-packed parachute to get out… seriously, what a drag the corporate life is.

      My hats off to your fiancee who still in the thick of it. Tell him to take deep breaths. And lots of scotch. That’s what keeps me going.

      Very nice to meet you – don’t think we’ve met before, Erin. Welcome to my place.

      • I should qualify the whole “I got out” thing by saying that I have basically the same job, just for a small partnership instead of a giagantor corporation, and that working for a small company comes with its own set of rules.

        The Boo is a scotch man too – how did you know? Must be something about corporate life that drives men to drink.

        I know I’m responding to your comments out of order, but it’s great to meet you as well!

        • Well, that sounds like a positive move, anyway. My company is gigantor. I am a number. Must remember that I am but a number.

          I dunno about the scotch, but that’s what everyone drinks around here. I do believe the corporate lifestyle sends you in that direction. Well, if I can’t get a job I love, at least I can love the job of drinking scotch. At that, I excel.

  14. Oh oh oh my gosh. How have I never been to your blog before? Linked over from Rachel/Calamity Rae. This is hilarious and reminds me soooo much of a “boss” I had at AT&T when I was in college. We called him CNels. He was the worst.

    • Hi Aussa! I’ve heard about you, but unfortunately haven’t yet made it over, but would have just been a matter of time. People say great things about your writing. I will come over now and check it out.

      Honestly, I’m surrounded by bad managers, but I try to do better. At the very least, it gives me some stuff to help write snarky blog posts. Thanks for popping over!

  15. Moses should have had two more tablets one for the ten commandments and two for Doc Lewins 20 Rules for Corporate Dominance the Rules for Bosses. I’m still laughing about a prayer circle Jesus and ham and will continue to laugh throughout the day. What a genuine pleasure this was to read Trent! 😀 (I’m amazed at your mental energy — that you can write when you work so much! When I worked full time, I never had anything left over for writing.)

    • Yah Linda, I think my mental energy has morphed with a certain amount of madness… can’t tell the difference anymore. But it’s all good.

      Thanks much for the words, my friend.

  16. All very valid points! i remember being treated this way on many ocassions. I would like to point out however, if you make yourself irreplaceable, you cannot be promoted – since you can’t be replaced.

    • Um, wow, that is a good point… one I better think about, actually.

      Isn’t it amazing how boorish, overbearing behaviour is okay in the workplace, somehow? It has always puzzled me.

  17. NO NO NO – HATE…

    HATE… that last minute request by boss at the end of the day. HATE.

    Great article, Trent. You speak for the people 🙂

    • Yeesh, me too, I hate that. Thanks for the nice words, I hope I speak for the people, as I would hate to be on the receiving end when they inevitably rise up to overthrow us bosses. That would be a really bad day at work.

      Wow, did you just like my first post ever? I don’t get that very often. I warn you, as I do most, that my blog is wildly inconsistent and of questionable quality. On the first point, I occasionally go for humour, sometimes anger, sometimes serious fiction, sometimes inane poetry… On the second point… I forget my second point now.

      Anyway, nice to meet you… will have to pop over so that I can put a name to you.

  18. Trent,
    Exceedingly well done! Unfortunately, you have now earned yourself a spot on a list of enemies of Corporate Douchebags everywhere.
    But it was worth it.
    The Hook.

  19. sadly bittersweet Trentster! been there and had most of that done to me! haven’t ever put scuba gear on a stapler tho…that was fn hysterical! and shame on you for the Jesus eatin ham portion! Lightning is headed your way I’m sure….LOOK OUT!!!! are you still there? serves you right, now off to your glorious office with the douchenozzle view…I’ll be in my cubie hole if you need me… plotting ways to overtake you and use said stapler on all those ass swattin women hating hope crushing bosses with the yeast infected aholes and giant red alcoholicly obvious noses!!!! (jk) lol

  20. 18 is my favorite…love it even more when after being given a vague command
    Boss “Strip whatever that stuff is off the wall and then paint it.” regarding some old kitchen wall we’re

    me “That might take a day or so, are ya sure ya jes don’t want me to paint over it?”

    Boss “No jes get rid of that wallpaper or whatever it is”

    Only to have the same boss show up three hours later and say

    Boss “When you saw how hard it was going to be you should’ve just painted over it.”

    Me “Sorry Boss”

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