How to build a bunker mentality at work

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Feb 11

When things go bad, people hunker down. They jump into a fox hole and hope to ride out the storm. At work, it’s easy to get a bunker mentality — the company is laying people off, times are tough, change happens every day and on and on. When all of that fear builds up, bunker mentality ensues.

Want to get a bunker mentality fast? Here’s how:

Stay at your desk and continue working during breaks and lunch

Taking breaks and getting away from your work for lunch show that you just don’t have the right caliber of work ethic. After all, you need to make every moment at work a productive one all the time. No time is needed to clear your head, reset your priorities, see how your coworkers are doing. Nope. Tasks, tasks, tasks. That’s all that counts. Plus, staying at your desk all day keeps you “visible.” Sure to help when it comes time to get laid off; your manager will know right where you are.

Go in early and stay late

Nothing like experiencing all that fear from layoffs, poor management and a failing company for even longer hours! Think of how much better you feel knowing that you can experience what you are hating for even longer periods of time. It does wonders for your confidence.

Besides, going in early and staying late helps you avoid exercise to reduce your stress and keeps you away from interacting more with your family and friends who support you. Going in early and staying late not only lets you experience what you hate for longer periods of time, you get guilt from it too for not spending time with your family. A two for one special!

Don’t go to meetings of your professional organization

To get that bunker mentality faster, you need to avoid those interactions where you can improve your job skills. After all, the company thinks that what you are doing is fine and improving your skills will only help if you are interested in finding work someplace else. Why improve your skills?

Plus, you don’t want to build a business network with people who could actually help you find a different position that makes more sense. No, you need to go this one alone. Besides, you are working all those long hours and going to these types of meetings just means you will feel even more guilty about missing time with your friends and family. Who would want that?

Eliminate your social activities

Seriously, your friends need to know that you are extremely busy at work. What can they say? You are working really hard right now and it is tough times at your company. Surely, that will generate a little bit of sympathy for you; who can argue about working hard?

Besides, doing those social things with friends is taking time away from you being able to recover from all of those long hours of work. Plus your very precious time with your family that comes from overwork. Yes, your friends will just have to wait. They’ll understand that you will be available to them someday in the undefinable future. They’ll wait for you to grace their presence again, I’m sure.

Don’t talk about your work situation with your family

You have so little time with your family, why burden them with tales from work; they know that you love them and that you need to work in a place you hate. The time you spend with them should be all about having fun with them when you are there.

Of course, your son is starting to do poorly in school and your daughter doesn’t want to talk with you much. But they’ll get over it just as soon as you get past this rough patch at work. Or maybe the next rough patch at work; rough patches seem to be happening more frequently. But they will tough it out, kids are resilient!

And your spouse? Rock solid. No problem. We know what each other is thinking without talking and we support each other. Work, you know, has precedence. No problem. Really. No problem.

The kicker?

I’m not very good at satire. But go take a look at some of the advice out there about avoiding layoffs and you’ll see these on the list. Frightening, but true.

The kicker is that it is easy to get a bunker mentality in this economy. Easy. It’s the exact wrong thing to do. Get your breaks, watch your hours, build your job skills and business network and support your family and friends. It’s your life. You can do the work and be the Cubicle Warrior who works for satisfaction and personal goals, not someone else’s goals and objectives that no longer fit the corporate experience you want and deserve. Or you can get bunker mentality and just play defense with your job and career and hope for the best.

Your choice.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.