Why boss brown-nosers become office slackers
Kissing up to the boss can increase employees’ bad behaviour in the workplace, study shows
Workers who butter up their bosses with flattery are most likely to slack off, behave badly and be rude to other employees.
A new study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that there’s a personal cost for workers who ingratiate themselves with their bosses.
“When your energy is depleted, it may nudge you into a slack-off territory,” warned researcher Anthony Klotz, of Oregon State University.Past research has shown that successful use of these behaviours, known collectively as impression management tactics, can have benefits for employees, including stronger performance evaluations.Ingratiation, or kissing up, generally includes flattery, conforming with the supervisor’s opinion and doing favours.
The study participants – mid-level managers in a large, publicly traded software company – completed daily diary surveys of their workplace experiences.
The researchers found that the more employees engaged in kissing up, the more their self-control resources were depleted by the end of the day.
“It makes sense that ingratiation is depleting, because successfully kissing up requires the appearance of sincerity and that requires self-control,” the research found.The depleted employees were more likely to engage in workplace deviance such as treating a co-worker badly, skipping a meeting or surfing the Internet rather than working.Johannesburg psychologist Dr Ingrid Artus said: “People pleasing or kissing up is one part of the poor boundary equation. The other is when bosses prefer to surround themselves with people who are always in agreement with them, soothing the ego.”
Artus said secure leaders were able to receive input from colleagues that was not pleasant but truthful.
“When an employer eventually has to set boundaries in the best interest of the business, and not necessarily in the interest of the employee, such employees may feel rejected, disappointed and hurt, and may then behave badly.
“This is an adult version of a three-year-old having a tantrum because he or she did not get his or her own way. Such dynamics can be extremely toxic,” Artus added.Six reasons your co-workers hate you
• You’re lazy;
• You’re an obvious brown-noser;
• You steal credit;
• You talk too much;
• You’re a control freak;
• You take too many sick days.