NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Just as every classroom has that one student who sucks up to the teacher, every office has that one employee who sucks up to the boss. In fact, chances are there are a lot more than one.
You know the person: Maybe there’s an employee who constantly hurls flatteries at superiors or laughs a little too much at their jokes. Maybe there’s an employee who brings in sweets for the manager or offers to grab them a coffee from time to time. Or maybe there’s an employee who constantly offers to take on extra work to impress the boss.
The truth is that most workers resort to some of these tactics at one point or another. For better or worse, sucking up has become an essential part of getting ahead in the workplace – we just tend to use more positive terms to describe it, such as “enthusiastic,” “ambitious” and “people pleaser.” Those who don’t do a little sucking up should probably start.
“Getting in good with the people who manage you and are above you is a pretty smart thing to do. These are the people who pay you and promote, so of course, they have a say in how successful you’ll be,” says Lindsey Pollak, author of From College to Career. “Really successful people focus just as much on their relationships as on the substantive parts of their job.”
But even Pollak, who describes herself as a former “teacher’s pet,” admits there is a right way and a wrong way to suck up. At its best, a little extra effort and relationship-building with the boss can help you climb the company ladder more quickly, but if you go about it the wrong way, you run the risk of harming your reputation with your co-workers and perhaps even your boss.
With that in mind, we suggest following these do’s and don’ts so you can suck up in the office without necessarily being seen as “the office suck-up.”
Ask your superiors what they actually want.
Before you start hanging around your boss’ desk each day chatting and complimenting them, take a minute to have a serious conversation about what their expectations are for your position and how he or she would prefer to be communicated with.
“A lot of people assume they know what makes their boss happy, but they are often wrong,” Pollak says. “You might think it’s a good idea to suck up by cc-ing your boss on everything, but your boss might not like getting lots of emails.”