So you are here, and I will just assume you notice how there is a double talk game going on in life. There is the facade of saying one thing which is politically correct when it comes to gender relations and how to play it, then there is another set of "real" rules which are subtle and not talked about. Well, the same is also true with your career. In fact, I think MORE people fall for shitty PC career advice than they do with the shitty PC relationship advice we hear all the time. I can't even begin to tell you how often I see people fall in their careers, completely flaberghasted as to why they have failed: They work hard, follow the rules, and show up on time... Yet for some reason, they keep getting passed up.
You've been lied to
I'm sure you've heard it all before: If you want to get ahead, you have to just bust your ass, and become the best in the role within your company if you want to get ahead.
Yet, for some reason that mediocre guy who never really was super popular, gets the promotion. You, and even your friends, will objectively admit that it doesn't make any sense. That someone else is clearly more qualified for the job.
You may ask yourself, "Why the hell did the company promote the other guy over the clearly more qualified employee?"
The answer is, because the other guy knows how to play the game.
Rule 1: HR is working for the company, not for you
I put this first, because it's the biggest smoke screen to ever exist within a corporate environment. HR exists today as a manifestation of companies trying to create a positive image in front of the law. They need a department that says "Look at us. We care about the employees. We don't discriminate, nor do we allow any wrongdoings. We exist to HELP THE EMPLOYEE!"
It's a great department to have when a company is actively trying to discriminate against shitty non-team-players, but need to make it look like they are pro-workingclass. In reality, HR is actively working against you. They are the ones who draw you in under the guise of help, only to take notes on how much of a mess you are, how much you complain, and how much of a thorn in the companies side you really are.
At the end of the day, HR is working in the best interests of the company, not you. When you decide to go in there to complain about your boss or some bullying going on, they may encourage you to open up and make an official report. But what you are really telling them is "Joe Blow isn't a team player. He complains when it gets tough, and can't handle tough situations. That if something bad happens on the floor, Joe may actually become a liability. He's going to be the first one to sue and destroy our slim profits for the year." If you ever complain to HR, you are now on a list of people they don't want within the corporate inner circle. You're dangerous. You leave a paper trail. You don't handle things off the record. You're a liability.
Corporations have spent decades and countless dollars trying to figure out how to remain as effecient as possible while navigating the legal frameworks. You may not like it, but that's how it is. The company cares about itself, and your bitching is just bringing in liability. It's just like how bitches like to create plausable deniability.
Rule 2: You're a soldier, not an scientist
This is the second biggest mistake I see happen within a corporate environment. Too many people, working the ground, see all the faults within the company. They'll be quick to critique how inneficient the workflow is, the poor management decisions, or how unnecessary some actions are. They'll bitch and complain about how much the bad decisions are hurting their ability to do a good job.
And you know what? They are probably right. Without doubt, every organization is riddled with inefficient rules and processes. However, they don't give a shit.
You have to understand that your leaders are just doing their best. What they need is people to execute their orders as best as possible. What they don't need are people creating friction with every decision they make. What they need are soldiers. They need people who just do the job as they ask. They don't want a debate or experiment with other ways of doing things. Rather, they just need people to do it the way they ask for. Even if your great idea would objectively help the company, who gives a fuck? Don't try and outshine the master.
They need team players, not innovators. You can start innovating when you're role is about innovating. Until then, just follow orders and show you're a team player. Later, when you have your own team and your boss is looking to increase sales, that's when you can show off by implementing a more effective workflow which increases productivity.
Rule 3: Your boss is your gate keeper
It doesn't matter how much you rightfully hate your boss. It doesn't matter how deserving they are to be slandered. At the end of the day, your boss is trying to run a good team and look good to their boss. And what they don't need on their team is someone making their job difficult. They don't need someone making them look bad, or talking ill about them to others. What matters to your boss is how they look.
I've seen it a number of times where the boss will fuckup, and the boss above them will call a guy over, and he'll start getting the heat for his fuckup that was the result of his boss's fuckup -- only to tell the upper boss that he was just following orders and that his boss messed up. That he shouldn't be blamed for screwup since it's really not his responsibility. And ironically, in his eyes, now thinks he looks good in front of the upper boss by deferring blame.
But all this guy has done is gotten his gatekeeper in trouble. Now he's made his boss look incompetent. Now he's shown to his boss that "he's not a team player." That he can't be trusted. I've literally seen careers thrown on eternal hold because an employee refused to just take the hit for their boss. Because from that point forward, when promotions were being discussed, and the upper bosses came to your boss seeking insight on who should be promoted, that boss would NEVER say they were ready to join the team. No matter how hard and productive of a worker he was, the gate keeper would never let him through to the next level.
In fact, what you should be doing is whatever it takes to make your boss look good. Take their hits, and shut up when it's needed. Show to them you are looking out for them, and want to make their life easier. And in return, your boss is going to fight for you.
Make yourself valuable, not intolerable. Don't give into the idea that management tries to push of reporting when things aren't to policy or correct. It's only going to hurt you.
Rule 4: Avoid being too friendly with your peers
Believe it or not, being the most popular guy is working against you. I know how much you want to become friends with everyone around you in which you spend a majority of your day. But you must create some degree of distance if you want to become successful.
The problem with becoming too social is multilevel: On one hand, you open yourself up for gossip and landmines. You know that one time you were out with a few friends from work and at one point were offered MDMA from some girl? Well, everyone saw it, and one of them is also friends with other people, and they'll casually tell someone. And that someone is going to tell someone else. And by the end of that game of telephone, your all of a sudden a druggy... and it will get back to management. It always does. And they will think less of you because of it.
On the other hand, if you are good friends with coworkers, it puts you in a hard spot being a leader of your former peers. Management is going to think twice about promoting someone who is such good friends with so many people they'd be in charge of. They need to be confident that you are going to be making decisions in the best interest of the company, not your friends.
Rule 5: Don't gossip
It's poison, and should go without saying. If you want to go up tiers, the people above you have to trust you within the pack. They don't want tattle tales, nor do they want people who are going to casually talk about inner workings. They want people who they can trust.
All-in-all, the point is, you've been lied to. The corporate game is actually pretty easy. It's not about being the best, most intelligent, cleverly innovative, nor most passionate. What a company looks for is a team player. You can be average across the board, but if the people above you like you, and can trust you, they'll want you with them. Earn their trust. Don't rock the boat. Show that you are there to help further the cause of making the company money, and you'll be fine.