Working with Corporate Hyenas: Learn from Them Without Becoming One
Corporate hyenas are individuals who define their work responsibilities by email forwarding and conference call attendance. They adopt the corporate cynicism that it’s not about what you do, but about what you tell people you do. These people are generally losers who have found little tricks to manage their “careers”. Despite their questionable work ethics, they have one important lesson to teach – they make it easy for people to think well of them because that’s the story they tell!
In large corporations, the pressure on productivity per employee is increasing. Smaller organizations will quickly bring to light any poor performance. However, in larger corporations, people management is de-prioritized. Individuals can hide their lack of output behind well-crafted stories of their work. They build an image of themselves as being productive by forwarding emails and attending numerous conference calls. I call these individuals hyenas because they hang around the lions and leopards – people who do real work – and live off their kills. Hyenas may occasionally hunt and kill themselves, but mostly rely on others to provide their meals. They may even chase off the lions and leopards to get a fresh piece of meat.
But, we can’t deny that there is one important lesson to learn from them – they make it easy for people to think well of them because that’s the story they tell! So, instead of hating them, we can learn from them without adopting their tactics.
How to Spot a Hyena
Corporate hyenas can be easily spotted if you look for them. They are always forwarding emails, introducing themselves to others, and suggesting that they connect. They also keep busy with meetings and conference calls, listening in on what’s being said and then repeating it in “corporate speak”. They tell their world how great they are, and how they are the key to a number of different projects, making sure that they keep reminding colleagues, in particular their direct or matrix managers, thereof.
The One Thing You Must Learn From Them
Corporate hyenas may be nothing but hyenas in suits, but they have one important lesson to teach you: make it easy for people to think well of you because that’s the story you tell!
In today’s pressure-filled work environment, it’s not enough to do good, honest work. You must promote your work to ensure it is recognized, appreciated, and rewarded. To promote your work, start by sharing your small successes in your day-to-day work. Keep your manager updated about the work you do and ask for feedback to engage him/her. Add your manager and/or other stakeholders on updates sent to your team and peers. Reach out proactively to a stakeholder whose business your work is impacting and ask them for feedback. State and show that you’ve come to meetings prepared.
Dedicate 2% of your time, which is approximately three hours per month, to promoting your brand. Review your work from the past month, extract the items where you made a significant contribution, and let those who benefited from them know. If you spent time reviewing what the press says about your and your competitors’ products to prepare for a presentation at an event, post it on the corporate intranet. Make sure it has your name on the front page and in the footer. Review the key work tasks you’ll be doing in the next month and think about which tasks are relevant to which stakeholders. Make a note of these so you remember to include them in your day-to-day promotion.
Finally, it’s best to ignore the hyenas. Don’t waste your time and energy on something you can’t control. Instead, put these two lessons above to use, and fight the corporate hyenas on your terms.
Corporate hyenas may be unscrupulous, but they have one important lesson to teach – make it easy for people to think well of you because that’s the story you tell! Promote your work to ensure it is recognized, appreciated, and rewarded. Share your small successes in your day-to-day work, and dedicate 2% of your time to promoting your brand. Don’t get caught up in the cynicism of corporate culture. Instead, adopt strategies that help you stand out for your good, honest work without compromising your integrity.