- Workers who kiss up to the boss might be behaving badly when not playing the role, according to a research published in the June edition of the Journal of Applied Psychology. Employees perform "impression management (IM)" — what MarketWatch referred to as "kissing up" — to get a good performance appraisal or some other advantage of being on the boss's good side.
- With a focus on two IM tactics, ingratiation and self-promotion among 75 mid-managers in a Chinese firm, the research found that workers who flattered the boss could be uncivil to colleagues, skip meetings and spend time at work surfing the internet, MarketWatch reported. They generally lacked a sense of security and self-discipline.
- One reason for the disparate behavior may be weariness from keeping up the facade of being a model employee in front of the boss, Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at Oregon State University's College of Business and co-author of the study, told MarketWatch.
Managers play a large role in engaging and developing a company's workers, as they are the person an employee is most likely to go to first if they have issues or requests for assistance. Workers may feel they have to kiss up if a manager is poor at prioritizing employee management, but HR can help alleviate some of these issues by providing proper training to managers. Between 40% and 59% of managers report having no training at all, and 44% feel overwhelmed at work, according to recent data from West Monroe Partners.
And busy managers treat their employees less fairly, research from Harvard Business Review (HBR) revealed, which could also create the perception that an employees has to play games to get his or her manager's attention. Employees who believe they are treated fairly perform better, though as HBR notes, fairness is a complex concept that requires mangers to suppress bias and allow employees to express their concerns.
At a wider level, organizations need to set a "level playing field" for workers with the message that opportunities for growth and advancement are open to everyone and that pay raises and other rewards are based strictly on merit — issues that pushes for transparency are attempting to address, too.