I read your blog and it makes an interesting read. I am looking for some answers. I hope you can help me.
I have been working for more than 3 yrs in my company. I joined from a fresher level to go on to become one of the leads (though not on papers). Just a year and half back I was transferred from my dept and moved to another dept. I was doing pretty great there and was pinning on my appraisals for a promotion, which did not happen and as the process was closing down, there was no point on creating a scene about it.
In my new dept. I let my boss know that I would like to lead a team (as this was something that I was doing in my earlier role). He told me he would make sure that he would do that. The first six months I worked from an associate level trying to understand the process. After I understood the process completely, I was moved into a different team. I had a talk with the Manager again. Told him my concern, as I was aware that this could be one of the ploys of keeping me at an associate level itself. He assured me again.
Somehow after some months things picked up, as I had a talk with him again and I was been given other responsibilities. I had a lot on my plate and still managed to meet my deadlines and stay afloat. As I am of a reserved and an introvert nature, I kept my communication open with others. I used to keep my communication with my manager to minimum as he has a tendency to go hay-wire.
Due to my nature, people get the wrong feeling that I am arrogant. I guess my boss thought that too. I got a feeling that he did not like me. As I found myself being targeted by people for my mistakes, sometimes even when it was not on my end.
Funny thing is when it was made by others, some would be pushed under the carpet or simply ignored. Though I was doing good with my work, these things put me on a lot of stress. My direct supervisor was an asshole who would keep poking his nose in anyone’s work and used to play mind games. He was next in line to become the manager as my boss was given other responsibilities
He did made my life hell. During the appraisal process I kind of got the hint that I was not going to be promoted. So I decided to quit my job. The next thing I know there were negotiations for me staying back, and also talks of me getting promoted. Though I liked what I did, the only thing I got back was negative feedback and the positive feedback never came even when I handled certain situations very well. On the other hand, individuals who had better rapport with the manager got promoted without much responsibilities on their shoulders. I left it anyway as I knew that they should have thought about it earlier.
What I want to know that in today’s work life should one suck up to their bosses to get promoted and is there no importance of individuals who are hard working and at the same time don’t make a fuss about it and don’t play office politics. Its funny that the ones who suck to their bosses to get promoted are ready to leave their job when they get a better opportunity. This is a trend that I have seen many a times. Still the managers make the wrong choice.
Please let me know on how one’s should be able to work in today’s work environment without getting dirty in office politics and sucking to their bosses if that’s possible.
It would be great if you could help out.
Wow. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that. And thanks for asking a great question I think many people wonder about.
When you ask about whether we really need to suck up to a boss to get ahead, the basic answer is NO. Many people get ahead without sucking up. And of course some people do suck up and get ahead. But if that’s all they have to offer, they eventually get stopped in their tracks.
My answer includes the idea that what one person calls sucking up may not be sucking up at all. It may simply be doing the job as they believe a job should be done – and finding a way to create a good working relationship with their boss. Just because a person agrees with a boss or gains the boss’s favor by communicating regularly with them, doesn’t necessarily make them a suck up. But I know it feels that way sometimes.
I am reminded of one of the most important things I’ve ever learned:
If you wait for others to change their behavior, you’ll never get anywhere in business.
I don’t think a person needs to “suck up” to get ahead…but I do think they need to learn to work with the boss they have. What some people call sucking up, may actually be a person who knows how to work with that particular boss. Good people skills will serve you the rest of your working career – and that includes learning to make the most out of almost any boss. (Some really are beyond help.) And there’s always the chance of another boss just like the old one wherever you go…so you might as well practice where you are.
It’s a little hard to explain, but it’s a perspective thing. If you think of it as sucking up, then you will always feel like you’re compromising who you are. But if you learn to effectively manage your work relationships, you’ll sail ahead faster than you ever done before. (By the way…I’m introverted too. So I know how that feels. But even an introvert can learn new tricks.)
Is it really sucking up or is it working smart?
I recently read something that Doug Conant, the CEO of Campbell’s Soup Company said in an interview:
Very few people are fired because they can’t do an ROI or use the tools you learn (in graduate business school). Where people inevitably run into trouble is their ability to manage expectations and relationships and effectively communicate.
You’ve already been at a higher level, so I know you must have many of the necessary skills to move ahead. But one of the greatest skills is figuring out how to learn from the feedback you’re getting and adjust your behavior accordingly if needed.
It’s NOT compromising who you are to learn to compromise – and to learn how to work with almost any boss.
I hope it’s ok to ask this. Just curious: Although you have many talents, is there possibly something you could have learned from being told that you come off arrogant? Even though you say it’s your nature, I’ll bet there are many people at the head of companies who have been called arrogant…but somewhere along the way they also learned how to communicate effectively and manage relationships well. We often learn best from situations that are problematic or look like failures. Smooth sailing teaches very little.
I’ve worked with an IT area for many years, and one of the most talented young men I’ve ever worked with was seen as arrogant. But he couldn’t see it. And for quite a few years it got in the way of his getting promoted, despite his leading several projects to success. And then at the suggestion of his boss, he reluctantly went to a class for managers that helped him learn people skills he never had. Since then, he’s been promoted twice in three years. He’s still the same person, but he has finesse now – and certain people smarts he never realized were missing. And he sees the difference in the way people relate to him now.
Of course, some jobs and some bosses are just impossible, and you could turn yourself upside down and never get promoted! So you were right not to continue where you were treated so badly. But I’ve found in my life, even in situations that were wrong for me, there often is a powerful lesson to take away with me. Maybe that’s true for you, maybe not. Just wanted to share my thoughts in case they help.
So what’s my conclusion? Do you have to suck up? Is it all dark and evil out there?
I agree that it’s best to stay away from office politics if possible. But like it or not, your boss is in charge. (Most of my career, btw, I didn’t like it; but I’ve learned the hard way that even I wind up enjoying the job more when I’m not so wedded to being right all the time. )
So the truth is…most of the time it’s not sucking up…it’s just doing your job. Creating a solid work relationship where you show respect and do your best is not sucking up. If we always think of it as sucking up, we’ll just come up against brick walls again and again in our careers!
Can you disagree with your boss? Absolutely! But there are ways to communicate an opinion and still show respect. (And there are times to know when to let things go.)
I think it feels better inside and outside when we learn to look at the people we work with and see more than just the flaws. Everyone has something unique to offer. That’s not just bullshit…although it took me a long time to learn that. And since you’re looking to be a leader, a good leader finds the nugget inside – even inside a person you can’t stand.
And in the end, let’s face it…your boss has a right to go in a direction you don’t agree with. And quite honestly, working as part of the whole team (as opposed to being an outsider) is a lot more fun and rewarding.
Just my 2 1/2 cents. Feel free to disagree with me. Different opinions welcome here.
New Work Coach Cafe Policy:
Although I had to stop answering individual questions (to preserve my sanity), your thoughts and stories are VERY welcome here.