You could spend years trying to fail upwards, only to find that all the good promotions have already been claimed by more successful incompetent people. Here’s how to shave a few years off your timeline:
- Communicate only with superiors. As long as your boss thinks you’re doing a good job, you are. Contrary to popular opinion, you should pay absolutely no attention to colleagues or subordinates. Their opinions don’t matter, which is why they don’t have “VP” next to their names. As long as your boss keeps failing upward, you’re golden. But you’re probably wondering what happens when your boss gets fired, laid off, or retires. Well, unless you can somehow quickly learn to manage a team and collaborate with others, you’re kinda screwed. But cross that bridge when you come to it.
- Hire only incompetent people. That way you’ll always have someone to blame for your failures. There’s a law of the jungle I like to call The Slowest Gazelle. When the lion attacks, he won’t catch the fastest gazelle. He’ll catch the slowest one. You only need to have one gazelle that’s slower than you. Hire that person! (This is exactly why your boss hired you. Pay it forward.)
- Sandbag your goals by setting artificially low expectations. If you think your division can generate $1 million next year, tell your boss you think $250K is an aggressive target. He’ll think he’s being tough by upping it to $500K. When you actually generate $501K, you’ll be a hero. But make sure you stop performing once you hit $501K! You want to save some upside for next year. See how that works?
- Be an empire builder. Ask for as large a staff as you can get, even if you don’t need it. Remember how you could always tell who the head janitor was in high school? He was the guy with the most keys on his sagging belt. Remember how cool he thought he was? Just think–he’s probably in prison right now. My point is that staff in the corporate world is like keys in the sanitation world. Always aspire to be the head janitor of your division.
- Don’t share information. Information gives other people more power, and you need to hold onto all the power you can. You are more difficult to fire when you’re the only one with the computer password to the division’s sales reports, its HR records, and accounts receivables. You are like the steak in a steak salad. Everyone else is lettuce. Or a crouton or something.
Bottom line? Sucking Up Constantly Can Ensure Solid Success.