In my work as a management consultant I get to work with some of the biggest companies in the world. I have worked on more than +30 projects with +20 clients. Amongst them several Fortune 500 companies.
In a normal week, I spend 4 days at the client site and 1 day in our own office.
This means that I have experienced more companies from the inside than most people.
I get to experience the good things in many companies, but definitely also a lot of the bad things.
One of the things that excites me the most about pursuing financial independence is that I won’t have to deal with all the negatives of corporate life anymore.
I have found that many of the negative things are similar across companies.
Companies are made up of people.
People that have different interests and agendas. A lot of times these clash.
People are spending an incredible amount of their work time (and thinking about it in their free time) on politics making sure that they come out on top and shine the most in the company.
The ineffectiveness of this and the damage it can do to companies is sincere. And it is super frustrating to be part of and navigate in.
I’m not going to miss the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HIPPO).
I understand that companies need some sort of decision-making hierarchy, but out of experience I can say that the CEO is definitely not always right. However, somehow he or she always ends up calling the shots based on their own opinion and gut feeling.
Also, most CEOs have agendas of their own, which means that decisions are not always the best decisions for the company, shareholders or employees.
Often I find that I have to pretend something.
Pretend that I’m interested in what is being said. Pretend that I think jokes are funny. Pretend that I would rather work late than go home to my family.
I pretend because that is what is expected of me. Does it make me a dishonest person to pretend something? I don’t think so. Most often, I’m just being polite.
Don’t get me wrong, I like being polite. I just find that in my personal life, I rarely have to pretend. However, somehow corporate life just requires me to pretend more often than I am comfortable with, and I’m looking forward not to doing that in the future.
Being an employee means that you trade time for money.
You are expected to show up for work Monday morning. You are expected to stay a certain amount of hours.
You have invisible shackles tying you to your workplace from Monday to Friday. This means that most of the week, you are not free to be where you want to be, you are forced to stay.
I’m looking forward to being free all of the week, and not only in the weekends.
Now, I actually really like my job in management consulting. I think it’s fun, I’m sufficiently challenged and days fly by. I can’t imagine many better jobs when it comes to tasks.
However, it is still a job. I’m asked to perform tasks that I wouldn’t do if money wasn’t an issue. Naturally, some tasks are better than others, but I’m looking forward to not having clients or a manager tell me what to do.
I get reviewed multiple times per year in my job. Management tries to fit a very diverse range of projects into a framework to decide to what degree I deliver on +20 parameters.
I think performance reviews can be quite motivating, but to be honest, they are all based on HIPPOS, luck and random observations. Often, they are also associated with how hard the reviewers think I am working, which is always the wrong indicator.
I’m looking forward to not always having to plan ahead for the next review.
This one is a huge one. I have seen many of my colleagues get stress over the years.
There’s so much research showing that stress has all sorts of negative effect on productivity, happiness etc., which is why I often wonder that there’s not more focus on it in companies and in society in general.
I’m looking forward to not being stressed on a daily basis. Not stressing about short deadlines on projects, important meetings with CEOs and partners expecting more than what can be expected.
You thought I had forgotten about meetings? Of course not.
Meetings are productivity killers and they steal up more than half of my day – every day.
There’s so many unproductive meetings I am not going to miss. Alignment meetings, weekly meetings, status meetings, meetings without a purpose, meetings where you just have to listen to a HIPPO, meetings with the sole purpose of making people feel important… and I could go on!
Being in meetings is one of the most energy draining things about corporate life that I’m definitely not going to miss.
Your turn: What do you think is the worst part about corporate life? What are you not going to miss about corporate life?