Would you relate to the word “corporate spying?” During lunches and especially at after office gatherings, we discuss this without using that term. Ever wondered how your boss gets the information about what happens on the ground from a remote distance? Accept it or deny it, corporate spying is as close to our minds as how much money we make at work and how fast we scale the corporate ladder. I would like to believe that your progress to a fast track growth at the office can be impeded by a spy or two. 🙂
So what is it like to have caught the attention of an office spy, corporate spies are everywhere; you just need to get better at spotting them!
For me, it all begun with the changed body language of one of my bosses at one of my employers. I met him after a 3-month interval as he works in a different city in a meeting, he appeared stiff; avoiding eye contact with me; at the very least, there seemed to be a lack of “warmth” between us. It helped that it was a quarterly meeting and we were surrounded by 15 other colleagues yet I couldn’t stop myself from feeling awkward. Tea breaks and lunch followed; he avoided me till the end of the day; I noticed that he wasn’t in the least bit reserved with the rest of my colleagues or team members. The day slipped fast and the following day was worse. He started making public comments on how my team was not adhering to the execution that resulted in him getting the brunt of the super boss. I reeled in shock as he clearly didn’t indicate this in my recent individual review. I let the comment slide as I couldn’t do much in a crowded meeting room. At the same time I noticed a couple of my colleagues snicker as if they knew something was amiss.
After the two-day meet, I worked incessantly at getting a spot of individual time with him and soon as I succeeded, I dived directly into the question: “is everything ok between us?”
“Kamal”, he said, “I got to know that you don’t favor me nor my leadership style and have made these known publicly.” He went on to say that he had his sources that were reliable; and especially since his grapevine comes from the Finance team, how could the rumors be anything but true!
Aha! Looks like I got into the bad books of a corporate spy as I recalled an incident just 3 weeks prior when one of the finance guys had name dropped about his proximity to my boss; I had retorted that I didn’t care as long as I’m right! 🙂
All, if not most, bosses have their “sources” – a person or a group of people they rely on for office related information or gossips. There are times when these “sources” voluntarily offer information with hopes of getting a good favor or two in return from the bosses or super bosses. The question is: does “corporate spies”’ (for want of a better word to replace “sources”) propel or impede progress in meritocracy and performance-oriented organizations?
Personally, I regard corporate spying as an essential form of “nice to know” information if you wish for a risk free tenure. We can’t deny that aside from meritocracy and accomplishment at work, being in the good books of the select few who are closer to the people at the top can give you that final push you need sometimes for career growth. Play the game or not, it’s important to choose the crowd you sit for a drink; have breaks with or lunch especially if you are in a mood to gossip!
Let’s not forget the visitors from HQ. They always remind me of James Bond movies; on a night out drinking, they make a few passing comments about the organization; laying the trap for you to pass your views. Most times, you’d fall into the trap and make some brave comments which so far were only playing in your mind. Soon after, your boss or super-boss makes an observation/comment and you’re given a miss for the new role/promotion! Hmm…and you wondered what the heck went wrong?!
So have you had the pleasure of getting the attention of a corporate spy? Or are you, on the contrary, part of the spying squad? If you are indeed a corporate spy, are the rewards worthy?