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Sucked In By Suck Up

Dear Office-Politics,

I work in a company, manufacturing equipment where the attitude of a few is that if you are a newcomer, you should not take up space within the company & you must be out in a few months. I am working in this company for last 5 months, responsible to look after general office administration, market research for procurement of consumables (required for the production dept.), on-site supervision of production team. I have built a healthy relation & trust with production team. My boss is very intelligent & known to me personally for last 2 years.

The problem is that there is one person named Mr. Rakash (all names have been changed) who is assisting a senior person Mr. Makir (an experienced trade person) who is responsible for all kind of purchases for production, Mr. Rakash wants all the glory just by assisting Mr. Makir but doesn’t want to do any of the work at his own (except submission of cheques in bank or collection of trade tax forms from the concerned department).

Mr. Rakash has a horrible reputation among his co-workers and outside of our organization. Nobody wants to say any single word against him who has experienced his conspiracy in the past. They consider him incompetent & corrupted who is just making the money while purchases from the market. Though Mr. Rakash is a very old employee of this company & his father Mr. Guji (an honest, sincere & very hard worker) is also working in this company as a member of production team for over 24 years. Hence our bosses have blind faith in Mr. Rakash. Most of the time he passes the time by playing with the little daughter of my boss or flattering them.

However, he has become very close socially, with our boss’s family too. So he thinks whatever he will do or whatever amount he’ll make by cheating, nobody can kick him out. And if you are becoming a hurdle for him, he will simply starting conspiracy to kick you out of the company anyhow. Now he is doing such disgusting things against me but I want to behave as I have responsibility to my parents, my wife & little son.

Should I just accept the fact that I may have to work by flattering him, and keep my mouth shut (which is very hard for me), or let my boss know, how I feel? My boss may not have trust in my words as Mr. Rakash is an old employee. I would not have the support of the other workers because nobody would like to lose their job, but am not sure if it would do any good under these circumstances.
I don’t want to kiss ass of anybody to succeed. Please suggest me what to do.

Sucked In By Suck Up

OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY TIMOTHY JOHNSON
timothy johnson

Dear Sucked In By Suck Up

Yours is a very challenging situation. As a newcomer to an organization, you hold a delicate position. You are not yet well known or respected enough to be taken seriously; however, you’re able to observe from an outsiders view. As with any office politics situation, there is rarely just one issue at play. Let’s look at the range of issues that are occurring.

From the names you mentioned in your letter, it appears as though your company is strongly influenced by middle-Eastern cultures, and I’m guessing India or Pakistan. Because of this culture, family ties and relationships are important. Sometimes the relationships are more important than actual performance, which sounds like the case here. If your colleague has been corrupt and dishonest in his dealings for so many years, it would appear as though the leadership in your organization may willingly be turning their heads on purpose to avoid the conflict that would come with confrontation. Even in more individualistic cultures, close ties with the boss or the boss’s family are not easily overlooked or overturned. If they are not aware of the dishonesty or corruption, then there may be hope in making them aware… safely.

First, does your organization have an auditing function? Is there somebody objective who can review the books on the transactions that your coworker handles? While people may sometimes lie, numbers never do. If he has been doing something underhanded to weaken the organization, let the auditors flush him out. You can just subtly point them in the right direction.

Second, you didn’t mention how he wants you to suck up to him? Is he simply asking for respect with the occasional compliment thrown in? Heck, that’s just civility, and whether he deserves it or not, it will actually make you look better in the end.

Does he want you to do things for him or participate in his corruption? That’s another story altogether. Document it and go to your boss. You do not need to take part in his bad behavior. You mentioned you couldn’t afford to lose your job because you had a family to support. If you help him or provide him with resources, then you will be providing him with a possible scapegoat if he is caught. Also, if he is treating you poorly, document that as well. If you are going to blow the whistle on him, you will want documented proof.

Third, is there anything preventing you from forging a good relationship with the boss and the boss’s family? It seems that two can play at that game. Forging solid relationships is not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it may appear contrived; however, the idea is for you to be liked at least enough to be credible. It’s a balancing act, but one that too few people choose to pursue. They’d rather be liked OR be credible.

Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.com,

Timothy Johnson, Author

Timothy Johnson is the author of the newly released Gust: The “Tale” Wind of Office Politics (Lexicon, 2007) as well as Race Through The Forest – A Project Management Fable (Tiberius, 2006). As Chief Accomplishment Officer for his company, Carpe Factum, Inc. (Latin for “Seize The Accomplishment”), he also is a dynamic speaker, providing keynotes and workshops on the accomplishment-oriented topics of project management, creativity, process improvement, systems thinking, and (of course) office politics. His consulting clients have crossed multiple industries and have included Wells Fargo, Harley-Davidson, ING, Teva NeuroScience, and Principal Financial Group. In addition to writing, consulting, speaking, and coaching, he is also an adjunct instructor for Drake University’s MBA program in Des Moines Iowa, teaching classes in Project Management, Creativity for Business, and Managing Office Politics.

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