“Kiss butt companies”

Dear Andrea:

I have been quite successful in my sales career, but I don’t understand why it doesn’t work out for long. In my job now, everything started off with a bang. My bosses sent out great reviews via e-mails. Then for no apparent reason, I received reviews that are negative and untrue. My bosses became caddy and vetoed everything I proposed. Then it goes down hill from there. Am I not kissing enough butt? Will I never get ahead unless I allow the higher ups to use me then abuse me?
–Man in sales

Dear Man in sales:

You and every person who works in a company have two things to contend with that affect the nucleus of your success and that of the company’s: 1) yourself, and 2) the dynamics at your particular firm–and how political it is.
First, let’s talk about you. If you’ve noticed a pattern wherever you work–in your case, where things start out great and quickly go down hill–it probably has something to do with you.
Perhaps you’re not clear on what your boss expects from you when you start a job. Or you’re not communicating. For example, if you’re relying on e-mails to get reviews, that makes me wonder how much real communication you do with your bosses. Have you asked for a face-to-face meeting to find out what’s going on? In past situations when things went sour, what did you do to get to the bottom of it?
At the same time, the dynamics of a place play a huge part in how things go. If you’re in a highly political work environment, it can be debilitating.
Research shows a world of difference between how people feel in politically dominant and well-managed organizations. According to Lawrence B. MacGregor Serven, author of “The End of Office Politics As Usual” (Amacom), people in political places feel controlled, confused, invisible, manipulated, used and angry.
People in well-managed companies feel competent, clear, comfortable, fulfilled, trusting, happy, strong and excited.
First, honestly look at how you’re contributing to your situation. Second, take a look at your company to see how the environment affects you.
Here’s a quiz to help. When thinking about your company, write true or false to these questions compiled by Serven:

Problems are never fully resolved.

Meetings end without making decisions (apart from further study.)

Directions from superiors are ambiguous.

Humor in the is office cynical or demeaning.

Everyone knows who the scapegoats are.

Excuses are accepted from powerful people.

Less powerful people are slighted, shunned or marginalized for perceived failure.

Nobody can recite the company’s goals.

People in meetings don’t speak up unless they’re asked for information.

You’ve felt that to get along you’ve got to go along.

You’ve felt uncomfortable raising a legitimate business issue.

If you have a lot of “trues,” you’re probably in a political environment.
If you decide this isn’t a healthy place to be, before you take your next position, sniff out what kind of workplace it is. It’s subtle, but you can get a sense by asking others who work there, by asking key questions in the interview and using your own judgment. When crafting questions, keep in mind the eight themes that research shows people need from their workplace to operate at peak performance, says Serven: Truth, trust, honesty, openness, caring, giving credit, mentoring and risk taking.

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Talking about workin’ for a living with WGRR hosts Janeen Coyle and Chris O’Brien.