People Share The Biggest Lessons They've Learned In The Corporate World

Corporate jobs run much of the world, and they often require conformity. Employees chugging away at large companies learn valuable lessons about work, ethics, and how people are valued.

Mumpsimuq asked: What are the biggest lessons you have learned in the corporate world?

Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.

You are replaceable.

No one owes you anything, and the second it's more convenient for you not to be there anymore, you will be out the door. It's that simple.

Don't break yourself for people who see you as a dollar sign.


I would add never go to HR unless it's the last resort, they are there for management protection not for fair resolutions.


Stay loyal to yourself and your goals.

Be loyal to yourself and your career, not to a particular company. The company will always do what's best for the company, you should do the same for yourself.


you should do the same for yourself.

Early in my career a man in my department that I barely knew (he was always traveling) gave me this advice for unknown reasons.

At the time the Fortune 200 company decided to lay 10,000 people off and force thousands into early retirement. He was forced into retirement and told me his biggest regret was the personal sacrifices he made. All the frequent worldwide moves took a heavy toll on his wife and kids.


And remember the company will use coworkers as an extention of itself. They are banking on you being willing to put up with a ton of bullsh*t because you "really like some of the people at work" and "I can't bail on them now it would leave them stuck doing all my work on top of theirs." I like a lot of the people I work with and have some good friends. But we all know if a better gig comes up were gonna go for it. I've had ex's come home from wofk and go straight to bed cause they were so stressed/depressed from work. But wouldnt quit cause of friends.


They're watching you.

  • Loyalty is used to exploit staff. Don't be loyal to your company, they aren't loyal to you.
  • Who you know is more important than what you know
  • Mergers always mean retrenchments. If your company merges, don't believe the lies that everyone's job is safe. They always say that to try keep the employees calm. No department is safe. Update your CV, check your state/country redundancy laws.
  • Never trust an anonymous survey to be anonymous


Never trust an anonymous survey to be anonymous

Yep, can confirm. Every year we have to fill out an allegedly anonymous employee survey regarding the organization as a whole, our direct leadership and manager.

Just yesterday someone in my department told me they found out that our responses contain our employee ID number and our managers see it. They roasted their manager and expect to get a pretty awful annual review next year.


Have a similar thing at my company. Every year an employee survey. If my manager has 10 employees who respond, they get the written feedback items verbatim in from the survey. I am sure they can deduce who wrote what on their team using sentence structure, words used, etc to bring the hammer on whoever wrote it.


Don't spill secrets.

Keep your mouth shut when someone, especially a superior, tells you something in confidence. Blab to others and you'll never be trusted again.


If someone heard them tell you, you might not be able to deny having heard it. This stuff can get treacherous.


There are jerks everywhere.

You will always be in the company of at least one narcissistic sociopath, or in less romantic terms, plain old office bully. Just pray it isn't your boss.


At my recent former job, my supervisor would steal credit for my work and throw me under the bus in front of others to make him look better. The day I left, he said I was such a great coworker and friend, etc. while making me stay late at work on my last day. My hiring manager agreed to promote me to a senior title 4 months ago, but we had to wait for my supervisor to complete the paperwork. He never did. So glad I left for a better job and I left the team right before busy season.


"Making me stay late for my last day" How does that work? Just walk out lmao.


Yeah, that one is entirely on you, mate.


The lower you are in the hierarchy, the harder you have to try.

When you are at low levels in an organization performance and hard skills are what matter to advance. As you get to higher levels it's about soft skills and how you make people feel.


This exactly, and also what you do when those at lower levels now report to you. Staff who has your back makes it easier for you and them to grow.


It's okay to change companies to pursue opportunity.

Never stay at a company for too long - raises and promotions are few and far betweeen. The best way to bump up your salary and title is to switch companies.


Thanks is very true. If I was to do my work life over, I'd move on every 2 or 3 years.


I'm starting my first career job

Already thinking of where I can hop in three years in case I need/want to.


Get the experience and bounce. Keep an eye on jobs all the time, and once you hit one year at a place, start applying to anything that looks more interesting than what you're currently doing.


Work to live, don't live to work.

Your current job is a temporary contract that should only last as long as the relationship benefits both parties.

Cultivate a portable skillset of preferably rare skills and make sure any given employer needs you more than you need them.

Networking is everything.

You are not your title/company.

Don't get mad, don't get excited, in fact don't give a f*ck about anything other than your own satisfaction in your own job performance. Ask yourself how your life would be tangibly better if that other department did things "the right way"... If not who cares really?

The grass is not greener, and everything gets boring after a while.

Be the calm guy in the room.

Edit- forgot the most important one... Work to live not live to work. What I mean is, no matter what your job is, it's purpose is nothing more than to fund your after work life.


Don't get mad, don't get excited, in fact don't give a fuck about anything other than your own satisfaction in your own job performance.

Switching from teaching to corporate, I cared too much at first and it was stressing me out big time. A friend taught me something important: "It's a one step process, don't give a fuck." I then checked myself often with that mantra, works like a charm :D

I still care about my own performance and constantly picking up new skills (latest one being learning shorthand), but not caring about much else. I'm not paid enough to do so heh.


Work to live not live to work. What I mean is, no matter what your job is, it's purpose is nothing more than to fund your after work life.

Or, you know, enjoy the work you do and take pride in it.


Don't expect a grace period if you're fired.

You will not know you are being laid off until they are escorting you to the door.


Yep. They will definitely tell you on your last day. And of course they will know for weeks that they're canning you.


This is a specifically US issue. Most developed Western countries have a modicum of corporate accountability and require several months notice. It amazes me how many of my fellow Americans take this shit as acceptable and unchangeable.


Not just other developed countries. In South Africa, there is a long process you must comply with if you let people go. If you don't, they take you to the CCMA (The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) and you can end up paying them 3-6 month's full salary. The CCMA is free so the complainant does not incur any costs in reporting the matter. No lawyers allowed to participate in the proceedings either, although they can advise you. I'm always shocked at how badly many employees are treated in the US.


The company is a reflection of the boss.

Corporate culture is determined by the values of the CEO.

The CEO hires and promotes people he/she agrees with. They do the same with the next level of managers.

I'll give you examples from two very successful companies I worked for.

In one, the CEO rose from sales, so the sales people are gods in the company. The higher-ups have corner offices, the CEO has two corner offices and all the space in between (on the 34th floor).

Another company I worked for was started by an engineer. He drove a Pinto to work, because he liked the car. The vice-president of my division, with maybe a thousand engineers, had a cubicle office like the rest of us. The CEO had utter disdain for market research - all the products were designed by engineers, for engineers.


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