Thursday, January 12, 2012

Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You To Know---And What To Do About Them By Cynthia Shapiro

Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them

Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You To Know---And What To Do About Them By Cynthia Shapiro

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Product Description

Cynthia Shapiro is a former Human Resources executive who's pulling back the curtain on the way that companies really work. In Corporate Confidential, she unmasks startling truths and what you can do about them, including:

* There's no right to free speech in the workplace.
*Age discrimination exists.
* Why being too smart is not too smart.
* Human Resources is not there to help you, but to protect the company from you.
* And forty-five more!

Cynthia Shapiro pulls no punches, giving readers an inside look at a secret world of hidden agendas they would never normally see. A world of insider information and insights that can save a career!
Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #50989 in Books
  • Published on: 2005-09-01
  • Released on: 2005-08-25
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .58" h x 6.26" w x 8.56" l, .45 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 224 pages
Editorial Reviews

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 and

"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."
---Leslie L. Kossoff, author of the award-winning Executive Thinking: The Dream, the Vision, the Mission Achieved
"a terrific book...a must-read for anyone intent on managing career risk."
---Anne Fisher, Fortune

About the Author

CYNTHIA SHAPIRO, a former Human Resources V.P., left her position because she grew disillusioned with how most corporations are forced to do business today. She is now a well-known employee advocate and workplace consultant for Fortune 100 and 500 firms, regularly lecturing and writing on the most critical topics affecting employees today. She lives in Southern California.
Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

123 of 125 people found the following review helpful.
5Everything you don't want to know (almost)
By Dr Cathy Goodwin
Corporate Confidential is the book every career consultant (like me) needs to share with her clients. It's not your standard happy-cheerleader self-help book. Nearly every page contains solid advice in an unabashed how-to style. Shapiro makes no effort to soften her message. Like it or not, she says, here's how the world of work operates in the 21st century.

Shapiro seems uniquely qualified to write this book, due to her background in Human Resources. And she's not afraid to say out loud what we've always suspected: The HR people are not your friends. They're protecting the company -- not you!

Shapiro's message can be summed up in one sentence. Whenever you're dealing with your company you're on the stage. Don't let your guard down, whether you're at a party or a one-on-one informal meeting. Watch your email. Don't make waves, gossip or sound negative.

If all this advice sounds elementary, you have never been a career consultant! Many of my savvy, sophisticated, experienced clients have trouble recognizing these rules. Even more resist. Some, like me, know all the rules but can't bring ourselves too follow them. Eventually we end up working for ourselves, with all the pluses and minuses.

This book explains why so many employees hire coaches and consultants to gain access to a confidential confidante -- a safety valve, sounding board and objective outsider. When you open up to someone off the job, you're more likely to keep quiet on the job. That's worth everything you pay an outsider and more.

Shapiro does not paint a pretty or pleasant picture. Need vacation? Take one week at a time. Take your second week six months later. Having a baby? You may or may not be eligible for Family Leave...and you have to work twice as hard when you return. Getting older? Take half your allotted sick days...fewer if possible.

In some ways, I'd actually move to higher levels of paranoia.

"Watch your expense account!" Shapiro urges. But I would go further. On the road, you'll often enjoy a couple of drinks and a movie in your room. Arrange to be billed separately so your company never sees these expenses. Alcohol should appear only as authorized client entertainment and nobody will believe you watched a G-rated Disney feature. Why give the accountants a good laugh?

Also, I would urge employees to study their own cultures. Shapiro gives hints, e.g., qualities of promoted managers will tell you about a company's values (p. 44). But I'd be wary of blanket principles, like, "It's okay to refuse a promotion." In some companies, you'd be signing your own pink slip.

And if the boss works late on a big project, Shapiro says, hang around and offer to be helpful. Well, if you're a female, be extra careful about sending the wrong signals to a male boss as you hang around in the evening, offering to make copies and send out for pizza. Even if you're totally innocent, your loyalty could be misinterpreted.

Finally, Shapiro continues to reflect the corporate party line, even as she's drawing back a curtain to reveal the truth. She encourages us to assume that companies make rational decisions, so if you follow the rules, you'll be rewarded.

Most of the time that assumption will be accurate. Certainly expressing this assumption aloud will show you're loyal.

But companies all too often have hidden agendas. You can be targeted for a layoff because your boss's boss wants to nail your own manager and you're a pawn. You may have been hired with the hope that you'll fail because management doesn't want to invest too much in your product line. You may be fired because of a merger arranged halfway around the world. You could be transferred to Outer Nowhere and fired two weeks later. You could take on a humongous overload in an emergency and then get fired because you didn't perform effectively.

But as Shapiro says, most of time we sow our own seeds of destruction: a show of disrespect, an extra drink at an official party, a discussion of personal life, a toy bear on your desk, an offensive style of dressing or ...well, you name it. She could have underlined her warning to avoid hints of any illegal or unethical conduct, even jokingly. A friendly puff of illegal substances at a party and now you're labeled a drug dealer.

To be sure, some companies can be incredibly warm, sensitive and caring. Clients tell me of getting amazing support during anything from nervous breakdowns to childbirth.

However, if this book really makes you feel ill, I recommend picking up a handful of books about starting your own business. But leave them at home -- not even in your briefcase! And hire your own listeners to talk about your dreams. You'll save a fortune in the long run.

69 of 71 people found the following review helpful.
5Essential read for all corporate worker ants
By Jaewoo Kim
DO NOT ASSUME YOU UNDERSTAND CORPORATE POLITICS AND HR POLICIES UNTIL YOU READ THIS BOOK. This book is by far the best book I have read on the subject and I have read many.

The book specifies that the company draws a clear distinction, without telling you, whether you are someone the company wants to keep or get rid of. To make matters worse, in this highly litigious society, companies cannot and does not tell you which side you belong.

If a company thinks you are an unwanted employee, the last thing they tell you is say exactly that in fear of getting sued. Rather, they use various tactics such as giving you too much work, giving you the most stressful projects, and just making life difficult for you as possible so you will leave voluntarily. If you are one of the unwanted employees, it is best to leave. What is the litmus test? If the employer doesn't give you a counteroffer or show strong regret that you are leaving, then they wanted to get rid of you anyway and you made the right choice.

If you are one of the high performers who the company wants to keep, they make it as clear as possible. After all, no one gets sued for promoting an employee. The fact is companies identify employees who will never be downsized because they are indispensable. In effect, they are "Made" and they cannot be touched unless they really screw up their good standing with the corporation.

If you want to move up the corporate ladder, not only must you show competence, but you must show loyalty. You must prove yourself as someone the company can trust with their business, money, and personnel.

How can you prove yourself as someone trustworthy? Here are few pointers outlined in the book:

1)Don't threaten the company or your boss. Don't go to HR with complaints (deal with issues privately). Don't make trouble, otherwise you are seen as a potential risk for lawsuits.
2)Watch what you say. Do not be negative, and support the corporate policies and procedures. Do not gossip and speak out against the authorities.
3)Cultivate good relationship with your boss. Do not fight your boss, you will never win.
4)Keep personal life personal and do not bring it to work.
5)Mingle with the right crowd. Do not mingle with the "downsizers" who will be axed the next time the company wants to cut people.
6)Being promoted often means you have shown you are fully capable of being successful in the next job. Just being successful in your present one does not suffice.

60 of 65 people found the following review helpful.
3Shallow overview of survive & prosper techniques within a typical US corporation
By John Knox
The book is essentially a user manual on how to survive, thrive and prosper within the institutionalization typically found inside large US corporations. Having worked in such environments for more than 20 years now, I can say that many of the 50 "secrets" in the book are indeed valid, although they hardly can be regarded as secrets. Most of the material presented will be already familiar to those having spent any length of time working in your typical US corporation. Nevertheless, many employees and first level managers will find the material entertaining - being laid out bare and shamelessly as it is.

There are five chapters that cover various aspects of the subject matter, progressing from mere survival in chapter 1, to ensuring that one holds on to that important first level management position once it is achieved, in chapter 5.

Early chapters rightly clarify the actual role of the HR department as protecting the corporation's interests rather than employee's individual interests - a common misconception among some employees. In addition, a whole array of undesirable traits and behaviors are identified that are likely to leave an employee sidelined or targeted for layoff.

In later chapters, the author strongly advocates, as the primary (and only) means or achieving success, adopting a fawning, sycophantic relationship with one's manager (gatekeeper) in order to curry favor, and gain his approval and trust. The proffered outcome of this behavior is immediate promotion and entry into the Inner Sanctum of the corporation. The Inner Sanctum contains those indispensable employees who are the corporation, as opposed to those regular employees that only work there. Over the years, having observed many incompetent morons achieve management positions using this technique, I can vouch for it's validity. However, it is hardly a universal model - and there are no other approaches presented. In the end, the author appears to recognize this weakness and wonders what the resulting outcome would be like if all promotions in a corporation were based on this single approach. Well I can tell her - and it ain't pretty!!

I would like the author to have explored some different techniques and types of manager/employee relationships that might result in success for the employee within the institution, rather than just focusing on one single obsequious approach. In my experience, corporate hierarchies based on this type of relationship also typically involve subjugation of subordinates by supervisors. That's just not a healthy trait to have repeated at various level throughout an organization - and unlikely to help it succeed in the long term.

I think the lack of insight into other manager/employee relationships, that might result in advancement for the employee, is the main deficiency of the book and for that reason I give it 3 instead of 4 stars.

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