Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Should you butter up your boss?

It seems like such a good idea at the time. Maybe if you butter up your boss they will remember that next performance review, job assignment or promotion. It cannot hurt to try, right. So how do you butter up your boss?

The whole point of butting up your boss is to get on their good side. You want to be well thought of by your boss and get some sort of benefit as a result. Are you doing this as a short cut, to bring positive attention to yourself, or deflect their attention from your work? Unfortunately how we do our job is not always what gets the promotion or raise.

There always seems to be some one who gets away with all sorts of things just because they are "friends" with the boss. As an extreme example, I remember one who would come in, sit at his desk and spend his shift on the phone with his friends and doing artwork. Some how he never had any problems keeping his job or meeting his quota. That was until the people above his supervisor noticed a change in staff productivity and retention. No one wanted to work when he did not, and some how he was reaching his quota but other people got fired for not reaching them. Lots of questions about what was going on. Turns out he was the supervisors boyfriend and they both got fired.

Now I would not recommend going to that extreme, but we all know having a friendly relationship with the boss can have its benefits. Another extreme example; at another job all of the long-term employees in the department were "friends" of the manager and supervisor. Some had started as school friends but all the long-term staff was a tight nit group who spent evenings and weekends hanging out with each other. If you did not have the time to hang out with the manager after work or go to their parties then you did not fit in and it showed in your job performance reviews. Several of the people would even bake and bring cookies or cake in to share with the department every week. The manager had a sweet tooth. You either conformed to fit in or lost your job or you found it so difficult to work with them you looked for other work. This resulted in the loss of quite a few skilled and educated employees and the retention of people who had on the job training but not the education.

In most places of employment things are not quite that bad but there is usually some one who goes out of their way to cultivate a "friendship" with their boss. They can be seen doing any number of things to get an in with the boss. Buttering up the boss with complements, gifts or finding ways to socialize outside of work. They always seem get the good assignments, or raise and some times the promotion.

Some people can argue that their work performance is what gets them the good assignments, raise or promotion and that buttering up the boss only gave them an edge. We know it works with some bosses, the question you need to ask before you try to butter up your boss is, will it work? And then figure out what will work with your boss without alienating your coworkers. Bringing in a batch of brownies for the whole department, not just the boss is a good way. In the long run though only you can see what will work with your boss, or if it will work at all. However, being friendly and helpful with your boss and co-workers should not hurt their opinion of you and may open up some opportunities for you.

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