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Courting Bosses or Competence? Reconsidering the True Drivers of Advancement in the Workplace

We call it managing your boss (MYB) and there are several research (google it) showing that it yields results.

If you actively spend company resources, time & energy away from your job to work on being in the good book of your manager it gets you promoted, a salary increase and you even get to keep your job. The criteria for any of those is not expertise or competence, it is relationships.

It is not the quality of the job that matters at work but your relationships. We all know this and have seen this over and over again. There are millions of articles and courses about "managing upward" "stakeholder management" or "managing your relationships".

I am not disputing the fact that we must maintain functional working relationships at work. But I raise the question of; When have we collectively decided that spending company resources to court my boss is something the company is paying me for?

Here is another thing, older generations didn't mind too much doing this because they were better at building relationships and worse at drawing boundaries.

What we can see today with millennials and Gen Z is not that they are not willing to work but they are not willing to invest their energy in courting their bosses.

And they shouldn't. Nobody should. Work in essence is a transaction and as long as organisations have managers and leaders with the mentality of promoting people based on how well others nurture their ego younger generations will be perceived as problems.

But if this true, if research and employees' feedback about the importance of relationships is true, then why do we have a performance management system? Why do we invest so much resources in a system that can be overruled by human bias in a second?

If you are a leader or a manager and you cannot separate your emotions about a person from the work they do please go and do something else useful. You are hurting the very same organisation that pays you to get the best out of your people and make a profit. You are likely to be doing the opposite if the management of your impression about them is important to them.

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