The fine art of fawning

by SixFigureStart | April 17, 2009

  • My Vault
Call it what you will -- brown-nosing, sucking up, boot-licking, or more impolite terms that can't be listed here -- the art of flattery in the workplace is here to stay. In fact, it's probably more important than ever.

The person who says or does just about anything to get ahead at the office is usually given the cold shoulder by coworkers, but more and more experts admit that such behavior does produce the desired results. A professor and a doctoral student at the University of Texas polled 1,000 senior managers and chief execs at 138 companies; in "The Other Pathway to the Boardroom," they found that "in a 12-month period, challenging the CEO's opinion on a strategic issue one fewer time, complimenting the CEO on his/her insight two more times, and doing one personal favor increased …the likelihood of an appointment to a board where the CEO was already a director" by 64%. And further, minorities and women (perhaps because they perceived their opportunities were otherwise limited?) were "more likely to use this path to the boardroom than their richer, whiter comrades," reported Fast Company. (The study was conducted in 2005, in a much less economically-pressurized climate than today's.)

Suck-upage works for persons in less senior spots too. Jennifer Chatman, professor of organizational behavior at UC Berkeley, said she thinks current intel would show that employees buttered up their superiors more regularly, "because people are feeling more vulnerable" living in the recession. Job seekers who used ingratiating tactics were 20 percent more likely to be hired, according to one of Chatman's studies. With all those candidates, and a limited number of jobs to fill, why wouldn't a recruiter choose the ones that made him feel better?

One could always take the "high road," and keep his or her nose to the grindstone (or computer screen, or TPS reports). But why not try to bump up your status, however distastefully? You can wrestle with your conscience and your friends' condescension later, when you step out of your shiny new corner office to go home for the evening.*

*results non-typical; Pink Slipped does not guarantee any positive outcome from such activity

--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault News & Commentary>

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