My boss has resigned and has recommended to his superiors that he wants his secretary to be promoted to senior office supervisor. Two junior supervisors (also her boss) who deserve to be given the chance for promotion will most likely be passed up due to the fact that they don’t kiss up. Does it mean that one’s education and many years of company loyalty means nothing if you don’t kiss up?
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY DR. JOHN BURTON
Sometimes it is the case that those employees who “kiss up” get ahead. But is that really the case here?
Behavior that may look like “kissing up” to someone who is cynical may in fact be a good working relationship. Is there perhaps a combination of personal warmth and competence here?
Congenial relationships benefit the company
One of the ways to combat the unhealthy sort of “Office Politics” which this website is all about, is to recognize that if people develop congenial relationships with their co-workers, the whole firm benefits. It is easier to count on someone to give that extra effort when needed if you have a relationship that includes taking time to get to know the person as a person.
If the promotion you are concerned about goes to an unqualified person solely because of their good relationship with the departing boss, the firm will pay the price for that decision. The employee promoted beyond their competence will also pay the price when they find themselves unable to cope. If she/he can cope with the job, then you really have nothing to complain about.
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Dr. John Burton
Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian. He has taught alternative dispute resolution at Queen’s Law School and Ethics at the Schulich School of Business. John was recently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada’s aboriginal communities. He is now teaching at UBC, Okanagan Campus.
Publication note: This letter was originally published in 2003. We are republishing the best letters from Office-Politics and integrating them with our blog format.