Kissing-up to Your Boss (Strategically)
By Mark Swartz
Senior executives practice this craft reluctantly. Newly hired millennials should be doing it more effectively. Kissing-up to the boss: a requirement if your abundant talent and productivity aren’t winning your supervisor over.
Prepare to hold your nose a bit and accept reality. You’re less likely to get downsized, and more apt to earn promotions and raises, if you can strategically persuade your boss to like you. Here are some ways to do so that will only temporarily shrink your soul.
Be Extra Attentive
Bosses want you to hear them loud and clear. Sometimes you’ll need to pretend you’re paying close attention even if painfully bored. Learn how to be a good listener. By gratuitously reflecting your boss’s words back to them and asking for clarification, you can (insincerely) create a conversation that engages them.
Also, small details matter. Memorize the names of their spouse and children. Comment when each of their birthdays roll around. Give the boss a really nice card when it’s their big day.
Make a Special Effort To Befriend Them
Take your supervisor out to socialize more frequently than normal. It doesn’t matter how dull or off-putting they might be. Buy them drinks or go for dinners. Invite them (and their spouse) to your place for evening outings. Involve your romantic partner if they agree to these tactics.
Avoid getting too close or personal with your boss. It isn’t necessary to always talk business or get into deep discussions. Keep it light and casual for the most part. Follow these tips on how to ace small-talk with a supervisor.
Help Them Look Good Despite Their Glaring Faults
Hopefully you aren’t getting queasy yet. There’s more to do. For instance complimenting the boss for no good reason. “Hey, have you lost some weight lately?” Or “I really thought you handled objections professionally in this morning’s presentation.” Making such comments in public can amplify their impact on that person’s ego.
Have you tried sharing credit with your boss when they’ve barely contributed to a project? How about correcting their errors discreetly before real damage is done.
Then there’s offering to accept blame (full or partial) for a mistake that was totally their fault. Also consider apologizing if you have a falling out with your superior, regardless if they’re to blame.
Ensure That They Feel Extra-Valued
Ask the person you report to for counsel periodically. Encourage them to think of you as a protégé. They’ll be more inclined to defend you if occasion arises.
Perform deliberate acts of kindness. Help the boss meet a crucial deadline though it isn’t your job to do so. Disagree with a piece of gossip that paints them in a negative light. At holiday time buy them a gift personalized to their tastes.
An easy win is to endorse your supervisor on social media. This can be done with written praise, adding likes and favourable comments on their blog posts, or by following them and re-sending their content.
It may cause your stomach to knot when you’re forced to play the game. Office politics – in this case artificially convincing the boss to see you as a central ally – shouldn’t be how people keep a job or get ahead.
Except the less capable and self-confident your boss is, the more you may need to practice light deception. Insecure people need their ego stroked repeatedly. Incapable performers rely on your voluntary diligence to fix their mess.
Always remember why you’re engaging in these actions despite how demeaning they might seem. Keeping your job or moving upward matter more to you than staying out of the fray. If your boss demands fawning in addition to acceptable productivity, either figure out a way to stand out on their radar that doesn’t involve kissing-up, or shower them with believable attention until you get a better overseer. Welcome to life at work.