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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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

ISBN-13: 9780312337360
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 09/01/2005
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 409,463
Product dimensions: 5.55(w) x 8.19(h) x 0.59(d)

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.

Read an Excerpt

Corporate Confidential

Chapter One

Are You Suffering from False Security?

Can you tell if your job is in jeopardy? Would you know the signs? We all like to think we would, but thousands of employees are blindsided by layoffs, reorganizations, and downsizings every day. There are millions on unemployment right now who most likely never thought they would be the one left holding a pink slip.

Your career is in danger right now, simply because you have no way of knowing what to look for, no way of finding the true agendas that determine whether you are seen as an asset or a risk.

Do you know what opinions your company has of you right now? Those opinions are actively determining your job security. Those opinions are built on the secret agendas within your company.

This chapter reveals the secret methods that can be used toremove unwanted workers such as cleaning-house layoffs, underhandedly managing an employee out, and even making an illegal firing appear legal. If a company wants you out, there is always a way they can maneuver around the law. This chapter will tell you what to look for, and how to save your job.

You could be making career-threatening mistakes right now. What you don't realize is that your company will never tell you when you've made one of these mistakes for fear of legal exposure. Since an employee is much less likely to sue if he thinks the job loss was due to impersonal business factors out of his control, companies spin the rhetoric we've all heard: "We've had to reorganize your department," "We just can't afford to keep you on right now," or "We've decided to go in a different direction and are eliminating your position." Those lines are rarely the truth.

The truth is, your company knows exactly why some employees are kept while others are let go, and now it's your turn to learn those same secrets.

First, you need to know what you're really up against.


The law cannot protect your job.

Many employees mistakenly believe the law will provide them with protection from retaliatory or unfounded job loss. In many of today's workplaces, this is nothing but a false sense of security.

With all their expensive attorneys and consultants, most companies have found many pathways and gray areas around an employee's "legal rights."

Companies have learned to protect themselves fiercely from those they feel are out of alignment with what they value. If unfavorable judgments and opinions are allowed to progress, they can take you from someone the company has interest in, to sentencing you tothe sidelines, all the way to full persona non grata. Yes, companies do have blacklists.

One of a human-resource department's secret objectives is to remove these unwanted employees while legally protecting the company. And most are very good at it. There are ways a company can remove you so you never know what hit you or what you did that cost you your job!

Companies don't say "you're fired" anymore; it's too risky. The removal process is now much more subtle. You need to know what those subtleties are so you can tell when your career might be in jeopardy.

Managing an employee out

One of the preferred methods of removal is the one no one talks about: managing an employee out. It can provide the most protection for a company with the least amount of paperwork. The basic concept is simple: make the employee's work life so difficult and unsatisfying he leaves on his own. If the company can get an undesirable employee to quit, they won't have to deal with the complexities, costs, and potential liabilities of firing him. No severance, no unemployment issues, little or no potential for liability. Most employees never see this one coming because in many companies it has become an art.

The signs are always there, if you look for them. Too many employees keep their head in the sand because they don't want to believe their company could lose interest in them. That's a good recipe for being blindsided with job loss.

Here are just a few signs that you might be in the process of being managed out:

DANGER SIGN 1: You're feeling grossly ignored, overworked, underpaid, or set up to be unsuccessful.

DANGER SIGN 2: Your boss doesn't seem to like you or pay attention to you the way he does to others.

DANGER SIGN 3: Your office is moved to an undesirable location or you are regularly given the assignments no one else wants.

DANGER SIGN 4: You're being given impossible tasks with unrealistic deadlines.

DANGER SIGN 5: Your boss surprises you with a scathing performance review.

DANGER SIGN 6: The company brings in someone to "help" you with your work and you find yourself training her in the nuances of your position and tasks.

DANGER SIGN 7: Your company moves you from department to department so you never have a chance to complete anything.

I think you get the idea. It's every employee's worst nightmare.

Shawn, an assistant with high aspirations, had his desk moved into a busy hallway even though there were other offices and cubicle spaces available. When he complained he couldn't get any work done, he received a speech about being a team player. Do you really think an employee the company valued and wanted to keep would be relegated to a hallway? No. He was actually in the beginning stages of being managed out because he had expressed negative views about company policies. He was unable to get his work done, rightly felt the company didn't value him, got fed up, and left. Mission accomplished. The company didn't have to fire him, didn't have to deal with unemployment, and got rid of its negativity problem.

Lisa, a member of a fast-paced and high-producing customer service team, had her salary frozen and workload increased to twice that of other department members. After struggling for several months, she finally approached her supervisor to question the heavy workload and seemingly unfair distribution of tasks. Instead of receiving the help she was hoping for, her boss questioned her "fit" with the position and ability to handle the job. He put it in writing. It's no surprise anemployee would find this extremely frustrating. After all, that's the point.

What Lisa didn't know was that her company had decided to manage her out because she was a gossiper, sharing all of the latest dirt on both the company and its employees. Not surprisingly, her gossip made her boss and the company executives nervous. They saw her loose lips as a liability. After doing twice the work of others only to be rewarded with a poor review, Lisa finally quit. The company didn't have to deal with firing her, and they no longer had a gossip problem.

An employee who finds herself managed out ends up disliking her boss, distrusting the company, and is usually left feeling betrayed and confused. But it's a highly effective and relatively protected way to get rid of employees companies no longer wish to employ. The cold truth is, many companies would rather incur bad feelings than be faced with the possibility of a lawsuit, a messy firing, or keeping an employee they believe could become a liability.

Yes, companies really do target people for removal, people they feel are negatively impacting the careful balance of success they've worked hard to create.

Making an illegal firing "legal"

In some companies managing out can even include making an illegal firing appear legal. It involves setting up an employee with documentation that makes him look like a poor performer so he can be fired "for good cause." This is especially important when the true reason for the termination has nothing to do with performance.

In most states, even those allowing "at-will" employment, companies will tend to generate defensive documentation.

"At-will" employment is a policy originally designed to protect the employer and employee by allowing either side to terminate the working relationship at any time for any reason. But it won't keep an employee from filing a discrimination claim after the fact.

What all this legal maneuvering means is, even though companiesin "at-will" states are allowed to terminate without a reason, most like to generate paperwork that shows performance-based reasoning behind their decision to terminate—just in case.

The easiest way to do this is by having documentation that shows the employee had low review scores, underwent corrective HR counseling, and was unsuccessful in his work tasks. This will greatly help a company's case if a claim is filed. However, this can be all too easily achieved by setting up the employee for removal beforehand: holding the employee accountable for things that have been allowed to slide in the past, assigning projects and task that have little or no chance for success or completion, coupled with a poor review. Within a staggeringly short amount of time, no matter how good your work actually is, there is enough "documentation" to make you look as though you haven't been doing your job. If all this hasn't caused you to quit, a company can now remove you in relative safety without having to worry about the potential for a lawsuit.

These companies don't care if you think poorly of them, as long as you go away quietly. Legal restrictions are not going to stop some from protecting their interests.

The myth of "performance improvement"

Many companies have "improvement" programs for employees who have gone astray in their work performance, or are not meeting expectations. It is usually presented as an opportunity for an employee to make improvements before "further disciplinary action is taken," (a.k.a.: their employment is at risk). These programs can be very confusing for employees—and for good reason. In many cases, they're not real.

Performance-improvement programs are too often nothing but a smoke screen, a protective mechanism. This type of action is much more about an employee's behavior than "work performance" or "expectations." Standard work performance issues usually only require acasual discussion with your boss, not meetings with HR and paperwork for you to sign. So, if you are in one of these programs you can safely assume that you've done something wrong they can't, and won't, openly talk to you about. They are not looking to help you "improve," they are moving you out. In many cases these programs are nothing more than an excuse to gather documentation so the company can legally fire you while providing the appearance that they've "made an effort" to help you improve (something a judge or lawyer will want to see).

If your boss has put you in one of these programs and is documenting weekly meetings, hanging over your shoulder, and constantly on the phone with HR, it's over. You have lost the support of your company and it's not coming back. Neither is your job. Very rarely do employees survive this particular gauntlet, and in my personal opinion, you shouldn't bother trying. Use it as an opportunity to find another job. It's easier to find a job when you have one. (Psychologically, companies tend to be more interested in employees other companies also want. Looking for a job while you have one makes you appear more desirable, and they usually don't check references on your current employer.) So, while HR scrambles behind the scenes to put together enough documentation to deter a potential wrongful-termination suit, use this time to find a new company that will appreciate what you have to offer.

Don't worry about being "wrong"

Many employees worry about being wrong and jumping to another company prematurely. If you're afraid you read the signs incorrectly, you won't hurt your career by finding another job. You could actually preserve it.

Telling your company about another job offer will let you know exactly where you stand. If your company truly values you, they will realize they need to start showing it. They will either state how much you mean to the company, or they will make you a counteroffer tokeep you with them. Always give your current company the chance to make a counteroffer, if you wish to stay.

However, if you were right to look for a new job then you've just saved your career by jumping in time to keep yourself off unemployment and keep a damaging termination off your résumé. You'll know whether you were right or wrong the minute you tell your company about the other opportunity. If they seem happy for you, encourage you to take it, or don't make you a counteroffer, you did the right thing!


Layoffs aren't what you've been told.

They go by many names these days: layoffs, reorganizations (reorgs). reductions in force (RIFs), downsizing, reengineering, even resizing. No matter what your company wants to call it, no matter how different they tell you each of these are, they're all the same. And they're not what you think they are.

Most employees believe a layoff has nothing to do with performance or behavior, that it's caused by unfortunate external circumstances out of your control and that the company would have kept you on if it could have. This is exactly what companies want you to believe. But unless your company experienced catastrophic financial failure, this is rarely the case.

This misunderstanding of what layoffs truly are has led to a critical lack of awareness in the important changes employees must make if they are to be protected in the future.

No matter what reason your company gave you for a layoff, the real reason is most likely that they lost interest in you. Somewhere along the line, they got the idea that you were no longer worth investing in and opinions soured.

Whether formalized or unwritten, there is always a "layoff list" of employees the company wouldn't mind getting rid ofwithout the potential for legal complication—which is precisely what layoffs provide. That's why human-resource departments secretly refer to layoffs as "cleaning house." Conversely, and more importantly, every company has a hidden indispensable list of protected employees who are virtually guaranteed job security no matter what. These are the favorites.

So how can you tell if you are in danger of being laid off, RIFed, downsized, or reorganized? First of all, if you were on the indispensable list, you would know it. Companies have become very good at letting their most valuable assets know they are safe even in the face of financial difficulties. If your boss hasn't pulled you aside "confidentially," to put your mind at ease, you are not safe.

The danger signs for layoffs are usually a combination of the following factors:

DANGER SIGN 1: You are highly compensated compared to others.

DANGER SIGN 2: You have a less-than-stellar relationship with your boss (who do you think decides who goes and who stays?).

DANGER SIGN 3: You have been openly negative about company policies or positions.

DANGER SIGN 4: The company numbers that support your position have recently dropped or disappeared.

DANGER SIGN 5: Your project was canceled or your primary client has decided to go "elsewhere."

DANGER SIGN 6: You've had a medical or disability leave within the last year, have filed a workers' compensation claim, or lodged any kind of complaint against your boss or the company.

Several of these things might sound like retaliation—and they are. The harsh truth is, layoffs provide a safe forum for cleaning house without fear of legal exposure, and for many companies that's too tempting to pass up. Many times, layofflists include employees who have caused grief, been outspoken or negative, or cost the company too much money within the last year.

These decisions are rarely solely financially motivated, as your company would have you believe. Even if your entire department was eliminated, if you were considered "indispensable" and critical to the success of the company, you would have been moved to another area.


Why no one will tell you when your job is in jeopardy.

You could be making career-threatening mistakes right now and not even know it. Most employees carry multiple career-threatening mistake patterns throughout their careers without ever being told by their employer or boss. In fact, human-resources professionals and executives have been instructed for years not to tell employees what they've done wrong or what's cost them their jobs.

Rather than being corrected, employees are quietly sidelined, managed out, or placed on the next layoff list without a truthful explanation. Instead of the truth, the corporate mouthpieces are forced to say things like "We just can't afford to keep you on right now," "We've decided to reorganize your position/department," "Your project has been canceled/restructured," plus countless other excuses or smoke screens.

What they should be telling you is, "You embarrassed your boss and he had to cut someone from his team this month to make his budgetary goal." Or "You've been saying negative things about the company and we would rather have someone who openly supports our efforts." Now, that would be helpful!

Instead, consequences of employees' career mistakes have gone completely underground to become virtually invisible. And without visible consequences, an understanding of true expectations isdeteriorating at an alarming rate. Too many employees are passed from company to company making the same mistakes again and again.

So why don't companies just come out and tell employees what they've done wrong? They can't. The cost threat is too high. In today's litigious society, companies are more afraid of being sued than of lying to or replacing an employee.

In the good old days, an employer could sit you down and tell you exactly what you were doing wrong, even if it was something we would consider politically incorrect today. The expectations for employees were very clear, even if they didn't always agree with them, and employees were able to manage their careers accordingly. The rules were found in the company handbook and your boss made sure you knew the behaviors that ensured success.

Today, if a manager tells an employee he'll be let go if he isn't "more positive and upbeat at work," the company runs the risk of having that employee cry foul. That employee might assume the company is trying to change "who he is," and as the pessimistic person he feels he has a constitutional right to be, his next call could be to a lawyer. If you're an executive or HR person, that threat of liability to the company could cost you your job. So what do you think HR will be more willing to risk: helping an employee understand what he did wrong so he doesn't do it again, or protecting their own job security? Now you understand what you're up against.

Unfortunately, the very laws designed to protect employees are now exactly what's keeping their companies and human-resource departments from helping them. We're living in a corporate environment of paradox where companies are unable to correct mistakes and bad habits, but find they cannot risk continuing to employ someone who exhibits them.

Your best protection against all this? Knowing what the secret criteria are, and staying on the right side of them. Without knowledge of your company's true agendas, you won't know you're in trouble until it's too late. So, how do you find out what they are? Read on ...


It's dangerous to do what your company says.

All companies have layers of unspoken hidden agendas. They're lurking just beneath the surface of a glossy corporate spin. If you allow yourself to navigate via corporate spin instead of learning hat's actually going on behind the scenes, you could find yourself getting caught in the void between what the company says and what it actually values, or between its true agendas and its public statements.

A Fortune 500 company has been promoting their commitment to an employee "work/life balance program." They've extolled its virtues throughout their hiring process, offered classes on creating a healthy balance between work and home life, and managers have openly identified it as one of the company's core values. The company has paid a great deal of lip service to it, and thinking the company truly supported it, many employees were excited and eager to incorporate it into their lives. Many of those employees made a fatal mistake. If they were paying closer attention they would have seen what is really important to the company: staying on top, staying ahead of the curve, keeping its industry edge, and putting the needs of the company first—at all costs. (Obviously, no company would post these as their core values; you have to look a little deeper to find them.)

The truth is, the company began this campaign to improve its public image. This message did not override the company's primary values which still required a commitment to long hours. Therefore it was not something for the employees to have followed—if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Consequently, the employees who were being rewarded were notthose with good work/life balance, those who only worked fifty hour weeks and went home to be with their families. The company's value system appeared to reward those who put the company first, stayed at work and got it done no matter what the hours or personal commitments. Many who bought into the work/life program were surprised with poor reviews, no bonuses, and lost stock options. Many also felt they had been secretly labeled by top executives as "non-team players" who, when given the choice, did not put the company first. Since the "program" was implemented, many employees who believed the company's rhetoric have left, and new employees continued to get caught in the corporate spin.

A much smaller company of around fifty employees decided to craft a list of their core values for all to follow. One of those values was "integrity." They asked the employees to use integrity in all they did and in every transaction while representing the company. It was prominently displayed in the new performance review and proudly posted on the walls. But if the employees had been paying closer attention, they would have noticed the company's livelihood hinged on winning contracts and that nothing would ever stand in the way of that objective. They would have noticed that integrity was regularly cast to the wind if a contract was on the line.

When the company's very first contract was lost in the interest of maintaining the commitment to "integrity," several employees' jobs went with it. Those well-meaning employees had stood their ground thinking the company was behind them only to find they had been hung out to dry, caught between what the company said and what it truly valued.

In today's barrage of confusing corporate messages, it is imperative that you develop the ability to see things through your employer's eyes so you can navigate based on their true agendas rather than the public facade. They are two separate things. It is the failure to see or determine the difference that causes many employees to be blindsided with job loss and broken promises.

Your company's real motivations

Each company will have their own unique value system and agendas for you to uncover, but here are the top agendas all companies share. Beware that you always stay on the correct side of these true agendas:


MOTIVATION 1: Protection


If a company feels you are opening them up to any severe liability or inconvenience (even if it is justified), many will remove you as quickly as possible. When you put your own needs ahead of a company's protection, you are red flagging yourself as someone who is not a team player and cannot be trusted. In today's litigious society, many companies value protection above all else. Threatening a company's sense of protection is the number-one cause of job loss today. (More about this in the next chapter.)



Their money, not yours. If they feel you value your money more than theirs, you will be gone. The best defense is to always treat your company's money as if it were your own.


MOTIVATION 3: Open support

If your company feels, for whatever reason, that you do not openly support their policies, positions, or direction you will be out. Naysayers beware!


MOTIVATION 4: Maintaining an "edge" in the marketplace Companies are highly fearful of those who appear to be stagnating, have fallen behind, or have become distracted by something in their personal lives. They feel their only chance at keeping their edge is to constantly stay ahead of the curve. This motivation/fear is one of the main reasons companies continue to replace older workers with younger ones.


MOTIVATION 5: The image of success

Companies are compelled to surround themselves with people who act and appear successful. If you are expressing negativity, pessimism, or a downtrodden persona, you will be replaced by someone the company feels can help generate a more positive atmosphere. Companies fear pessimism and negativity more than any other behavior in an employee because it erodes the environment of success they are constantly working to create.

Finding your company's hidden agendas

Those listed above are the core agendas for most companies, but each company you work for will have its own set of guidelines and unwritten rules. To truly protect yourself and your job, you need both.


To find the hidden agendas in your company, look at what its key decision makers consistently reward and value (even if it's never talked about, even if it's openly denied or politically incorrect).

Don't look at the good intentions and well-meant speeches. They may be what a company truly aspires to, its ideal, but you can't follow an ideal and protect your job simultaneously. Those speeches can send employees in one direction while the company continues to value only one thing—getting ahead and staying there. To keep your job, you must know the difference.

What if you were the CEO?

Imagine what you would value if you were the owner of your company rather than just an employee. If this were your company right now, if the CEO dropped a stack of important papers in your lap and handed over the keys, how would your thinking about the company change? As the new owner, what would frighten you? What wouldplease you? What would be most important to you? Success, image, protection, contracts, forward momentum, support?

If you are doing this correctly, you should suddenly feel overwhelmed by fear and a huge sense of responsibility. That is what the owner of your company feels every day.

If you can take on that sense of ownership you will immediately have an understanding of what is truly important to the key decision makers, what they will protect at all costs, what motivates and inspires them. Then you will know what to follow and focus on—and avoid.

Why do companies keep these secrets?

This is the question I'm asked most often. Wouldn't your company want you to know their true agendas so you could help them achieve their goals and be the most effective employee possible? Not necessarily.

Companies aren't harboring these hidden agendas out of spite or to make your life more difficult. They have been forced into it for self-protection. Companies live a precarious existence in our lean, wary, and legally defensive business climate, a climate in which just one lawsuit from a disgruntled employee can take down all the company has worked for. This is not just a paycheck to the owners; this is their life. They've put everything they have into it and they aren't going to tip their hand to someone who has not yet proven himself to be trustworthy.

Those whom the key decision makers feel are trustworthy are those who appear to be in line with the company values. If all the true agendas were out in the open, how could a company tell the difference between those naturally in line and those trying to use the information to get ahead? Companies are always looking for the genuine article, those who understand ownership, not someone who's using as a stepladder for personal success the precious company they've worked so hard to build.


Skills and talent aren't what's most important.

Too many employees believe their job is safe simply because they are highly skilled and work hard. What no one is telling you is that HR departments and executives have been instructed for years to talk about "skills" instead of the real issues effecting employment. Why? Because it's a safer position. Discussions about skills are subjective, and employees don't usually sue when a company tells them their particular skills or talents are "not a match" for what the company needs at the moment. This misdirection has led to a dangerous overemphasis on skills when that's not what will protect you, and is not the most important factor in furthering your career.

Even if you have the best skills in the company, you will have no security, none of your needs will be met, and no doors will be opened to you unless you gain the trust of those at the top. Trust is based on the company's perception of you. Whatever that perception is at this moment is actively determining your job security and value.

Do you know how your company perceives you right now, what its opinions of you are? If you're not experiencing the career momentum or recognition you would like, or feel you deserve, than the opinions the company holds of you may not be as favorable as you think.

The trick to learning what your company's opinions or perceptions are is to get a handle on what its hidden agendas are. It involves looking at what your company truly protects, rewards, and values, then holding up a mirror to yourself and evaluating your own actions in the workplace.

Look at your actions through the eyes of an owner. Do you outwardly act like someone who supports the company policies and interests, no matter what you think on the inside? Do you openlybehave and speak like someone with ownership and passion, or someone looking for more money in your paycheck? Look at your actions through the lens of the company values. How close in alignment do your actions seem when viewed from the outside? That outside view is right now determining your level of job security.

What a company secretly values becomes the foundation for its hidden criteria and unwritten rules, the secret rulebook that tells a company whether you are someone they should invest in or not, trust or not.

Let's say you work for a company that values protection above all else. During the course of your employment you are experiencing an issue with sexual harassment from your manager and decide to file a claim. You are fully within your legal rights to do so, but have just violated the secret company code and glaringly labeled yourself a traitor to the organization.

A company may do everything legally required to deal with the situation, and even keep you on in vour position as required by law, but you will never be trusted. In most companies, your career is over. In fact, many companies will remove you as soon as they possibly can while maintaining a modicum of protection for themselves. They have to. They can't afford to keep an employee who puts the company in jeopardy, who puts himself above the protection of the organization.

If, however, you chose to deal with this issue privately, on your own, without exposing the company to a potentially expensive and time-consuming liability, you are still on track with your career.

This type of company behavior angers many people and seems completely unfair. It is. But you're still thinking like an employee. If you were the owner, you would never jeopardize your company by filing a formal claim unless it were a gravely serious issue that could not be addressed any other way. The same would be true if you simply had a vested interest, like a large stockholder or a high-level executive. Why? Because any legal complication for the company would affect you in a much more negative way than the temporary discomfort ofresolving the issue on your own. These issues can cost huge amounts of money in legal consultations (even if it never goes to a formal legal forum), not to mention the wasted hours of high-level people who should be spending their time guiding the company toward success and not evaluating a situation between two employees. And if it does go to a formal court setting it could eat up all the profits for the company for that year, or even several years. A problem like that can take a company under. No one with a vested interest, or ownership, in an organization would even come close to risking it. And if you truly cared about the well-being of your company, neither would you.

That's the mind-set you must acquire: high-level "ownership" of your company and its interests, not just the ownership of your personal interests and comfort levels. There's a big difference.

Putting yourself and your personal interests before the company will label you as a traitor, not to be trusted, and not to be invested in. Asking yourself how you would deal with issues if you had ownership will immediately tell you which fights are worth fighting.

The closer you bring yourself into the appearance of alignment through your daily actions and choices, the more favorable the company's opinions of you will be, and the more secure your job will be. How will you know? Those who are seen as being openly in alignment are the ones who gain recognition, favor, and promotions—even if they don't have the best skills. Maybe I'd better hit you with that one again: those are the ones who get ahead regardless of their skills or performance.

Highly skilled employees, with seemingly great value to their organizations, are let go every day because they are perceived to be a potential risk and cannot be trusted. Conversely, employees are being promoted who don't have the best skills and may even have to be taught how to do the job, at great expense and time, because they appear to be in alignment and the company feels they can be trusted over others.

Anyone can learn skills. Companies are looking for something more. They are looking for those who appear to value everything thecompany values. The only things they have to go on are your outward actions—your behaviors.

All that's missing is an understanding of the secret behaviors all companies reward and promote, along with the ones companies view as a liability. These next few chapters will give you the behaviors to avoid, along with the ones that will showcase your value and open all doors in your path.

Get ready; your view of corporate America, and your place in it, is about to change.


1. Don't assume that because no one has said anything to you that everything is fine and your job is safe.

2. You need to know the signs of a job in jeopardy and take action immediately if any surface.

3. "The law" cannot protect you, so don't rely on it. A company can always find ways around the law if it wants to. Your best protection is:

looking at things through the mind-set of an owner. This will help you know what to focus on, and more importantly, what to avoid;

making sure your outward actions match the ideal perception you'd like the company to have of you;

cultivating the appearance of alignment with what the company truly values and rewards, not what it gives lip-service to.

4. If you've been laid off, downsized, or reorganized, start examining where you might have gone wrong so it doesn't happen in the future. These occurrences are very rarely benign.

5. No matter what your title, industry, or position, your number-one job is to keep your job, to protect all you've worked for, and achieve the success and recognition you deserve. Stop whatever else you're doing and make sure you aren't doing any of the things mentioned in the next chapter.

They are the secret career killers.

CORPORATE CONFIDENTIAL. Copyright © 2005 by Cynthia Shapiro. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Introduction: Breaking the Corporate Code of Silence,
Note to the Reader,
CHAPTER ONE: Are You Suffering from False Security?,
CHAPTER TWO: Are You Making Executive-Sized Mistakes?: Secret Career Killers,
CHAPTER THREE: Unmasking Corporate Myths,
CHAPTER FOUR: Invisible to Indispensable: Becoming the Fireproof Employee,
CHAPTER FIVE: Just When You Thought You'd Made It ...,
CONCLUSION: The Winner's Circle,
Helpful Resources and Information,
Associations and Employee Organizations,
Bibliography and Suggested Reading,
About the Author,

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Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book hits hard! But, gives a corporate person the keys to staying employed, avoiding the corporate merry-go-round, and the time to gain the financial resources and business knowledge to get out and make their own business really happen. Another book I just finished reading and highly recommend is the Sales Adventure Guide. It outlines how to identify a lucrative sales/marketing/business opportunity, stay employed, earn a ton of money, and negotiate a severance package once it's time to go and start your own business. (Has any one ever had a college class in severance negotiation??? Seems to me gray haired folks know ALL about it...but the young guns get left in the dark.) In this post Enron world and as a recent college graduate I'm so glad to see books that tell it like it really is and provide the most valuable spin-free weapon we can all use - real world knowledge. Thanks Corporate Confidential & The Sales Adventure Guide!! Mark Brier
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is filled with awesome career advice. Everyone should do themselves a favor and get this book. It left me feeling confident about my future career. The author gives clear behaviors on protecting myself from self-sabotage. Also, things to look for at the workplace. The author has revealed the mystery of work-place advancement and job security. I have no doubt that this book will save many careers! This book can also be used as a very handy workplace reference. Highly interesting to read, and full of lots of real-life examples. As I read in another review somewhere, 'A Must Read.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the book in less than 24 hours, and then read it again. With the first page, I could put people, places and situations that made me go 'hmm......' all in perspective.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book doesn't pretend everything is perfect in our companies, or if we work harder, spend more hours, and learn more, that everything will be okay. I knew there was more to company motivations, and the author had the guts to tell me. Now I know what I need to change, and what I can't change. This book is full of great information, and is immediately useful at work. Everything in this book seems true, and makes sense. This is the book I was waiting for. Definately a keeper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book offers wonderful insights into the corporate world, however, the multitude of grammer and editing mistakes, was a distraction for me. Otherwise very helpful.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read. Very insightful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read several other books looking for just this type of information. The others tended to include the same old common knowledge stuff. This book was filled with things I wish I had access to earlier. The information on vacation time, interaction with my boss, and even my attire certainly was eye opening. I discovered incredibly important things. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in not only job security, but trying to get ahead in their career. -Al
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a "Must Have" for aspiring executives!!!!
alex4910 More than 1 year ago
It's a shame what some companies will do to protect themselves against Good Employees. Never would I have believed what goes on in companies today. I was one that was moved out of my job because of age and years of service. Finding a job today has been troubling me because of my age.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will now be part of my personal reference collection for any job or any position I hold in the workplace. The author revealed secrets to help me succeed in my career that I would have never thought of. This book covers everything, from what you reveal about yourself through reports, work attire and even being too smart for the job. It also reveals traps and hidden agendas that managers and HR secretly use to evaluate or eliminate employees. This truly is a must have book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow - this book sure opened my eyes to what companies think about their employees! This book is full of great information about how to avoid making critical mistakes at work. I was really suprised at how seemingly normal work-behavior could land me on a layoff list or stop me in my tracks for a promotion. There is great career advice and information all through this book. I bought one for my husband too so he can have his own copy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great. Just the information I needed, but never knew who or where to get it from. It seems to cover everything I could need. I don't know which stuff to tell you about. I am ordering two more copies for my sisters. Then I am sure I can get my copy back. A must read..
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book and I already have a list of friends a mile long who are waiting to borrow it! The information in this book is stuff that seems self evident but it's really not. I promise anyone who reads this book will learn at least 5 key things about the work place that they didn't know before.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Interesting, but seems like the book was hyped by AOL a little too much. It goes from giving some useful, but mostly common knowlege advice on dealing with HR and then changes gears around secret 30 or so on presentation styles. I guess I had higher expectations and thought I would be getting some really juicy insight into HR and all the evil stuff they do behind our backs, but most I knew already. A couple suprises but didnt need to be 50 secrets, maybe 10 tops. Would reccomend for any college student going to work for a fortune 500, not necessarily for someone working in a smaller enviroment. Side note: Thanks Clinton for creating all of these politically incorrect workplace nuances that we now have to deal with...Too bad people just cant say what they mean and be honest with employees without having to fear legal reprisal.