Keeping the boss happy helps careers

Q: One of my colleagues has really been getting on my nerves. We've both worked for the company for the same amount of time and although this person is no more experienced than I am, our boss views him in a far more favourable light than me.

David Emin, director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers
David Emin, director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers

This could be because of the endless cups of coffee he makes the boss or because he never disagrees with any of the boss' suggestions.

Whatever the reason, whenever my boss is handing out a plum piece of work, it automatically seems to be given to my colleague, yet the dross always ends up in my lap. How do I get my boss to look on me more favourably?

A: My 11-year-old son recently asked me if my company was doing anything special on Red Nose Day. I mentioned that the team had decided everyone would wear an item of red clothing and would make a small donation to the charity. Anyone who didn't wear anything red would make an even bigger donation.

My son observed that as my wardrobe is predominantly all one colour - a conscious decision I made many years ago - I would not be able to participate, as I do not own any red clothes.

However, he then pointed out that if my company ever had a "Brown Nose Day" at work, I would be ideally placed.

Now I hope my son was referring to the vast number of brown items of clothing I possess, but it did get me thinking that maybe holding a Brown Nose Day at work wouldn't be such a bad idea.

I floated the idea past a couple of my team members. One said he thought it was a great idea and should be extended to Brown Nose Week and the other said it was the most idiotic suggestion he had ever heard.

Obviously it was an idiotic idea, and I was only joking, but strangely the person who played along with me had a much easier day, and I said yes to every request he made.

Unfortunately, the person who didn't like the idea spent the rest of the day putting together spreadsheets I thought I might possibly need for a meeting that may or may not be happening.

Like it or not, managers respond better when they are being managed upwards in a positive fashion. I am not advocating that you become a "yes" man, but think about what floats your boss' boat.

Being positive and proactive is going to advance your career faster than being negative and reactive. But, most important of all, please remember that it's white and no sugar.

David Emin is director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers. Send your dilemmas to david.emin@haymarket.com

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