I had only been on the job about a month when Louis came into my cube with some advice. “Hey, you’re working too fast, slow down”. He went on to explain that if our mechanical group gets too caught up we might get more work or we won’t look busy or some other dire consequence, I don’t remember exactly. This was only state government after all. I felt like I was in the scene in the movie ‘Big’ where that guy tells Tom Hanks to slow down before he makes everyone else look bad. Except I wasn’t twelve.
It becomes apparent that if you’re spending your time being productive, you are not maximizing your exposure to management; you’re not pumping up and drawing attention to an insignificant and easily solvable issue and capturing the benefits of everyone appreciating your ability to analyze, research, and rectify this imagined impending tragedy. They need to teach this stuff in college, maybe graduate school; we can’t have too many people employing these tricks or nothing would ever get done.
I was reading about Michelle Bachmann in New Yorker Magazine I think. She used to work for the IRS for a while. Go figure. They tracked down some of her old co-workers who were pretty clear that she didn’t do much in the way of work. She seemed to get the job so she could be out on maternity leave as much as humanly possible. This demonstrates a high level of expertise in how to work the government. Now she’s one of four or so remaining contenders for leader of the entire government and the free world; and the guys who picked up the slack for her back in the day are still laboring away at the IRS. Suckers!