PLAIN TRUTH: Stop sucking up to your boss


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It’s Monday morning. You are in a meeting touching base with the team at work. You share your thoughts on the past week and your ideas for the coming one. When it is her turn, one of your colleagues, who has been nodding at everything your boss has been saying, flashes her sweetest smile at the boss and says, “I’ll come to your office to discuss what I am working on…” in that manner that suggests that unlike the rest of you, she has a special relationship with the boss.

The mood change in the room is instant. There are a few surprised faces and many more rolled eyes. That is because the office suck-up is annoying. She is hard to miss. She is the woman who always compliments the boss, even when she is clearly having a bad hair day. Who buys your female boss a scarf when she travels on her annual leave. Who likes to feed the boss with home baked goodies.

I get it. These are very harsh economic times and the job market in Kenya today is very uncertain. Still, even when the stakes are this high, kissing ass is not the way to go.

Those who do it call it ‘managing up’. There are even courses that teach you to ‘manage’ your boss or supervisor into giving you that raise, promotion or positive appraisal. I think it is a bad management strategy.

First of all, if your boss is good at his or her job, and is confident in their ability to lead, then he or she will know the difference. Your boss knows you are sucking up to them, and whilst they may bask in your praises, your name will not be at the top of the list when crucial promotion and raise time comes.

Think about it: will you give responsibility to a person who places so little value on their values and opinions? Someone who prefers to manipulate people and is clearly dishonest? I think not.

How big your network is today will directly affect how high up the career ladder you go or how well you do in your business. When you kiss ass by supporting a boss who makes poor decisions, you are undermining your colleagues and thus killing your networks.

You may have noticed the eye-rolls and the whispers behind your back. You may be patting yourself on the back thinking that your colleagues are jealous or scared of your progress so you must be doing something right. No, they are not jealous. The truth is that they know you are manipulative and insincere, both qualities that are not on the list of things that make one a worthy acquaintance.

If you feel like it is not enough that you are doing your job, try other ways of getting your boss to like you. For example, seek their mentorship. This, unlike empty flattery, will stroke his or her ego and put you in their good books.

I think that just doing your job right and being a good team player is enough.

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