Will you get promoted? Take the test

One of the most important indicators of whether or not you should switch jobs is if you are in line for a promotion. It’s not so much that you should be climbing a ladder, but more that if you are not being recognized for great work then you’re probably not doing great work. And if you are not doing great work, this is not the job for you. We should all be doing great stuff.

So take this quiz to find out if you will get promoted.

1. Are you friends with your boss?
The hardest workers don’t get promoted. The most likable people get promoted.

Here is the big test for you: Did that sentence make you angry? You lose one point. That’s because you are wishing that you did not have to be likable and you are mad that people who work less than you do get promoted ahead of you.

If the sentence did not piss you off, then you are in good shape. But maybe you should work a little less and do office politics a little more. This is not obnoxious advice because office politics is about being nice.

Did you already know it’s about being nice? Give yourself a point. If not, click here to read about it. And then give yourself a point for reading. Hold it. Look. I’ve just invented a new form of the self-quiz where you become more likable by clicking on my blog posts. Great traffic-building tactic.

2. Are you working on high-profile projects?
Do you work on the project that everyone else wanted? Give yourself a point. Did you say to yourself, “Who knows? I don’t know what everyone else wanted.” You lose a point. How can you get yourself onto good projects if you are not in the middle of the fray finding out what’s available and what’s hot?

The key to making yourself useful to your boss is to work on the stuff that matters to your boss. Sure, everything matters, but some stuff matters more than others. The stuff that your boss’s bonus depends on matters more than properly filling out your expense report. That’s a good place to start. Hopefully you can approach the issue of managing up in more nuanced ways than that.

If you made a mental note to click on the link to managing up, give yourself a point, because you care. If you moused-over the link and saw you already read the post, you can still take the point.

3. Are you paid at the high end of the range for your position?
Investigate the salary range for your job. Check PayScale, and then ask around at work — don’t be shy because everyone else is asking too. If you’re at the top of the range, give yourself a point. If you were embarrassed to tell your co-workers how much more you are making than they are, give yourself two points, but don’t bring this topic up again.

If you’re at the low end, then you were not highly valued to begin with, so getting people to switch their opinion of you is going to be hard. You can do it by asking your boss to get you to the top of the range, and then back up your request by listing all the achievements you’ve made in your new position.

Too scared to do this? You lose three points. Did you do this and the boss ignored you? Lose two points (and remember that you got a point for trying—it’s a good lesson meant to inspire fearlessness later.)

4. Do you work fewer hours than everyone else?
If you work fewer hours than everyone around you, I can promise you that they are annoyed. Did you just click to your email to tell me that you work less hours because you’re smarter than everyone else? Take away two points. Because no one cares how smart you are (see number one on this list).

You should not be the hardest worker because that makes you look desperate. But you can’t work the fewest hours either, because then you look like you don’t care. And that’s being a bad team player, even if you are getting the work done. If you find you have a lot of extra time because you’re a total genius and you finish everything early, spend more time networking at the office. Because you can never have enough time for that.

Can you remember the last time you initiated a conversation with someone who dislikes you? Give yourself a point for good office politics and a point for bravery.

5. Do you feel like you are due a promotion because of your experience?
No promotion is set in stone. Even if you have it in writing. You can be laid off, right? So you need to work constantly campaigning for yourself if you want to get that promotion. Do you spend your days focusing on doing your job, or do you do a little bit extra so you can be a star performer?

Give yourself a point for setting aside time each day to let people know how great you are. Take a point away if you think people who do this are annoying.

Give yourself a point if you can think of the last thing you did where you consciously said, this is way beyond the call of duty, but it will be good for my career.

Score yourself:

5 or more points – You will probably be promoted. Maybe you should announce your score in the comments section of this blog and leave a link to your resume, because everyone should want to hire you.

3-4 points – You’re doing well. Look at where you lost points and fix it. Obvious advice but in fact, very few people can actually fix their shortcomings. With a score of 3 or 4 points, you probably can.

1-2 points – You need coaching because you’re not understanding what you need to do at work in order to meet your goals. You’re focusing on the wrong stuff and you’re going to come to a point where you want things in your life and your career that you can’t get because you didn’t understand the underbelly of the business world.

less than one point – You’re in trouble. Maybe your best bet is to retake the test…

Posted in No image, Office politics
68 comments on “Will you get promoted? Take the test
  1. Shefaly says:

    Penelope: Interesting post!

    In my post-MBA career, I had all these points and got steadily “promoted” (as others call it; I just saw them as bigger and bigger challenges).

    But despite ‘scoring’ well on all these, one has to recognise that there comes a time when the professional trajectories that an organisation can offer or afford an individual will not be what the individual wishes for. May be it is the gradient, the speed or the reward. Sometimes it would be the politics. To recognise that is crucial in one’s career. And _that_ would be the time to ‘promote’ yourself out of that organisation, and reapply all the good things one has learnt somewhere else.

  2. Please says:

    But what if I honestly think I am not being prototed because I am a woman. The men around here get promoted; the women don’t. It’s frustrating. I brought in 30% more last year that budget required. And still no promotion. What gives? Not sure what to do next, beside being nice (I really am!), working on big projects (I do!), and working hard.

    * * * * * * *

    Leave.
    But if this happens again, at the next company, then it’s not that you’re a woman. It’s something else.

    -Penelope

  3. Please says:

    I have been promoted three times in five years at this company. Then I got this boss . . .

    Next question will be, how do I know if the job I’ve been offered is right for me.

    Stress . . .

  4. Jim Eiden says:

    Be very careful about asking others about their salary. It may be against company policy.

    One of my Parents got fired for doing just that.

    It was in the company employee manual, and was fired for talking about salary.

  5. Jrandom42 says:

    Since I am the “boss”, I have a few comments:

    On number 1. WRONG!!! It should be, are you competent at what you’re already doing? If they aren’t doing their job competently, being likeable is irrelavent.

    On number 2. Know your limitations. Take on vital projects you can do NOW, not in some fantasy where you learn as you go. It does little to help your cause in getting promoted to be on the network infrastruture revampment team, if you have no clue on configuring, testing and troubleshooting routers or switches.

    On number 3. You want me to move you to the high end of the pay scale? Better have achievments that are meaningful and can be backed up by co-workers and immediate supervisors.

    On number 4. Wrong! It’s all about productivity. I have no problem with someone who does more in less time. I’d probably set them to giving classes on how they do things more efficiently or maybe get them to mentor some of our new engineers and technicians.

    On number 5. Leaves me very suspicious. Someone who’s campaigning for a promotion, with few or no achievements is suspect in my book as someone who’s trying to game the system without doing the real work. They will probably be labeled as a political operatior, which is a big no-no in my company. If you need to campaign your real achivements to get promoted, to me, it seems like a failure of management to know what is going on in their departments.

    You can get promoted only so high, before you plateau and need the experience that only time and doing the prep work can give you. Don’t take it personally, but look at it as the training ground for more and better.

    Finally, I don’t know how it works in other technology and engineering companies, but politics is frowned on here, and after an ugly and destructive internal political battle, most, if not all political operators have been either fired or shunted aside.

    • Jose Luis says:

      I wish I worked in your company! Inept but charming engineers get the promotions around here! I should’ve learned football rules and invite the manager to watch a game instead of busting my ass all these years at school.

  6. Duncan W. says:

    Penelope,

    I believe in one of your articles posted on Yahoo! Finance you said that if given the opportunity for a promotion, you should turn it down in lew of additional training.

    DW

    * * * * * *
    Yes, good point, Duncan. Here is a post I wrote about why promotions are not that important:

    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2006/03/13/getting-a-promotion-is-so-last-century/

    I try to make the distinction at the top of the post today that a promotion is not so important for climbing a ladder. But a promotion is a good indicator about the type of work your doing. You need to be distinctive in your career in order to create the opportunity and flexibility you’ll need for the long haul. Getting promotions — whether you accept them or not — is a good measure of how you’re doing.

    –Penelope

  7. david rees says:

    Well my other comment was either too long or the links put it in purgatory.

    Jim: It is illegal, per federal employment law and precedent to ban employee discussion of salary.

    Certainly it happens, but you can take action if it makes sense and will not hurt your career.

    At our recruiting agency, incomes are not a secret – numbers are on the wall and anyone with a calculator can figure out how much someone makes.

    Promotion is easy as well – there are clear cut objectives if you want to become a partner in the firm.

  8. leslie says:

    Hi Penelope,
    Great article as usual. But I would say be careful who you make friends with. I made friends in different departments from my own and that was considered disloyal by some. And if you happen to be friends with your bosses’ boss watch out. Chain of command is still a very big deal in corporate America.

  9. M Hentig says:

    One thing I think gets left out of a lot of discourse on seeking advancement, is to simply express an interest. Offer to your boss that you are interested in moving up. Ask what you need to do to get to the next level. Once you are on the radar, act like you can function competently at that new position. You also have to have realistic expectations–other people who are more qualified may be in line before you, but if you are willing and able to put in the hard work, then say so to people who are in a position to put you there, and then back it up with the goods.
    I often just have to bite my tongue when people get bent out of shape when discussing the fact that they are not progressing in their careers, when they never bring up that they want to advance. They expect people to read their minds.

  10. Dan Schawbel says:

    “The hardest workers don't get promoted. The most likable people get promoted.”

    The sad truth!

  11. Jonathan S says:

    To the second person who left a comment,

    According to a pervious article Penelope posted on Yahoo! Finance, show a little skin or not report sexual harassment would be okay for a woman at a work place. Perhaps you should try that and see if you get a promotion quicker. Please report back the reactions from your bosses.

    Thanks,

    JS

  12. prklypr says:

    Take a look at the cover story in NYMag this week about Zoe Cruz, one of the most powerful people in finance and the only woman actually in line to become CEO of a Wall Street firm, Morgan Stanley. Not only was she not promoted, she was fired for being too masculine and blunt (ie, she was not likeable). She was a huge producer but she was loathed by the men who worked with her – becasue she was too much like them.

  13. Please says:

    Never, I will never use “skin.” Sorry, too much of a Yankee–I am not in LA, after all. I know the answer is that I should leave, but it makes me sad as I really like my work and am the main bread winner in my house, so leaving risks a lot. I am not as brave as Penelope, although I wish I were!

  14. Jonathan S says:

    To Penelope,

    DW brought up a good point. My question would be, I did mediocre work but played the office politics game well, and am now offered a promotion. Should I take it or should I counteroffer with a training session instead?

    Please respond as soon as you can because my decision will solely depend on your advice.

    Thanks,

    JS

  15. deep says:

    I’ve been promoted 3 times in the past few years. I’m not sure my experience in early stage / start up companies parallels your statements.

    I agree that likability and politics count for a lot, but don’t think they trump hard work every time. More specifically, unless you’re a cancer on morale, I think output matters more than likability or politics. As an example, I’ve seen asshole sales guys kept around because they deliver / exceed expectations, and have heard bosses say that they personally liked someone that they fired anyways because they weren’t producing enough or costs needed to be carved.

    Outcomes, the effort needed to produce them and the style with which it is done are 3 different dimensions that matter. Ideally, you want to maximize outcomes while minimizing cost/efforts and still be friends with everyone after all is said and done. Realistically, you don’t actually get more done with less and it doesn’t really matter if you and your colleagues are best friends, just that you can work together to get things done.

    Also, committing more of yourself / applying more hours in an early stage / startup company is not seen as a sign of desperation but counts for a lot when deciding who to promote, who to get rid of, who gets new projects, stock options and pay increases.

    I agree that it’s definitely a bad thing to be the part timer when everyone else is working around the clock. But it is good to be known as the person who will do whatever it takes to get something done. I make it a priority to myself to deliver projects in a way such that the only thing a boss needs to do is hand it over to me and it comes back magically delivered with all problems solved. Perhaps in line with your first point, what matters is if you inspire confidence.

    * * * * * * *

    Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting to think about how these axioms apply to startups because in many ways, startups are totally different than other companies.

    A while back I interviewed diversity maven Frans Johansson, author of Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation. He said that diverse teams perform better than homogenous teams except in early-stage startups. In early-stage startups, having people think in similar ways is important for getting things done quickly. The tension that diversity creates is too daunting for a fragile startup. So I think it’s safe to say that getting along with co-workers is more essential and valuable in a startup than anywhere else.

    Penelope

  16. Jeff Clark says:

    6!

    View my out-of-date resume here: http://www.ihiredjeffclark.com

    PS: I’m not looking for a job :)

  17. klein3351f@yahoo.com says:

    “Do you work fewer hours than everyone else?”

    Fight the urge to work longer hours just to look good. At mid-life you’ll wake up and realize that you’ve WASTED half your life chasing something that someone once told you that you were supposed to want.

    The GOAL is to work as few hours as possible while still maintaining an income you can live on!! Unless of course you would do your job for free, then by all means go ahead and work your life away, while I’m out with my friends, taking in a movie, going to theater or walking in the park.

  18. Michael Henreckson says:

    Why not be the hardest working person and the most likable? Frankly in a lot of places I’ve been, it’s not that hard to be above average. You just have to be willing and have a positive attitude and you’re there.

  19. KO says:

    The outcome of this formula is a lot of people are being promoted to the level of their incompetence.

  20. e says:

    There’s an interesting article on DailyWTF that explains how the “get promoted or leave” mentality relates to employee value: http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Up-or-Out-Solving-the-IT-Turnover-Crisis.aspx

    It’s a good counterpoint/reinforcement to this post, and well worth the read. It’s also unusual because DailyWTF usually posts funny stories about interviews or programmers, which are also great but in a different way.

  21. tinyhands says:

    1) Some of us just weren’t meant to move up, despite graduate degrees, getting along with our boss(es), and working appropriate hours on the right projects. Some of us are trapped in jobs from which we cannot escape for one reason or another. A sobering statistic: only 49% of the population is above average.

    2) @david rees — Oops, you mistakenly assumed that the whole world is subject to US Labor laws.

  22. Jrandom42 says:

    I guess the one big thing that is missing from this article is this: Results matter. If you don’t produce results that matter, everything in this article is not going to do more than get you laughed at and sent back to “do your job”.

    Is it just me, or does it seem like lunacy for anyone to even think about a promotion if they don’t produce results that matter and accomplish goals for the team/department, just because they’re “likeable”?

    Show me the things you’ve done to help the team/department reach their goals and make life easier here, and we’ll talk. Bank on being likeable and have no accomplishments, and I’ll send you back to work, hopefully meditating on your grasp of reality and perhaps with some motivation to actually DO SOMETHING THAT ADDS TO THE TEAM/DEPARTMENT!

    I may like you, but if you can’t produce results that matter, I’ll be firing you sooner rather than later.

  23. JR Home says:

    Question number 6 should be “Is your company growing, shrinking or cyclical?”

    Companies that are growing at a fast rate often are in a constant hire mode. As a result, they hire the talent they need rather than promote. If growth is slower you have a better chance at being promoted.

    Conversely, companies that are shrinking have to promote in order to retain the people that they need. Too often, this is a short lived promotion if the company does not return to profitability.

    Some companies are cyclical and are constantly hiring or firing depending on the economy. If you can ride out the waves this may be your best shot at a promotion. The stress may not make it worth it in the long term.

  24. Al says:

    I didn’t really count my points (maybe 5?), but what you’re saying generally makes sense.

    I think what’s important is being on the same wavelength as where your boss wants to take the team or company. That mental attitude automatically motivates you, it puts your priorities in the same place as his, and it makes you ‘play’ office politics for the right reasons (rather than just for selfishness). Crucially it gives you something in common with your boss, and that establishes a connection between you and him.

    Also you do well to find a niche for yourself in this long-term game-plan, but without becoming irreplaceable in your current job!

  25. david rees says:

    @tinyhands

    Oops, you mistakenly assume that I assumed something I did not assume.

    Anyone with even modest knowledge of the dark arts (and WHOIS) can discover where the person I was addressing lives.

    Yes, it is a global internet, but sometimes an American is not so much snubbing the whole world as they are just talking to a fellow citizen.

  26. MW says:

    Frankly, I may start off liking you, but if you don’t meet performance expectations, and/or insist on constantly promoting yourself, I am going to like you less and less and less.

    Of course I work in academia, and we don’t fire people, we just gently guide them towards the door when the grant money runs out.

  27. melanie gao says:

    I’ve promoted people I didn’t especially like.

    Oh, and is mine the only company that publishes its payscales to all employees? I know exactly what my range penetration is because the maximum, minimum and mid-point for my job title are on the company intranet. I can easily take my salary and calculate where I am on the scale.

  28. Michelle says:

    I got a 5/5, but I think the reason I’m not going to get promoted is because of my age. I get a lot of flack because I’m 23, so what do I know… even though I work very hard and I’m constantly giving and executing good ideas…

  29. Kaila says:

    Maybe number 6 should read, “Do you begin your comments with ‘I’ll never receive a promotion because____.’?”

    I think a big part of moving up is also getting rid of the victim mentality that makes so many people feel justified in not progressing because someone else is always to blame. If women in your work place don’t get promoted, you don’t have to work there. If young people in your workplace don’t get promoted, you don’t have to work there.

    Anyway, Penelope, you talk about networking at the office… and I was really hoping for a link under that phrase. Since there isn’t, do you have any networking at the office etiquette links?

    I mean, is there a line between networking and distracting your coworkers, which could create a little animosity because now the people you’re distracting aren’t getting their jobs done as effectively?

  30. Working Girl says:

    Is it really true that companies (in the U.S.) can ban salar talk?

    What if they require you to sign an agreement that you will not do so? This happens a lot…..

  31. pam says:

    Penelope,

    I always enjoy your posts, don’t always agree with all of them, but have to say that today I think you are dead on with every bit of this post. Especially the bit about being likeable. At my last company, I regularly saw people promoted who were not the best producers or the most innovative, but who were definitely the most likeable and charming…the thinking was that these people wouldn’t ruffle any feathers and everyone would love working for them. I think the results of that strategy were mixed at best.

    • debra says:

      i was passed over once again for a promotion and i asked my boss why because i was mad and she said i really dont want to get into that with you i did not choose you because i have to do whats best for the company someone please tell me what that means and am i wasting my time at this company she also said i know you can do the job i have no doubt about that i wonder would she not tell me why i did not get the promotion because she does not want to hurt my feelings i still really want to know why should i press it and keep asking her or just leave it alone please help

      • Donna Stone says:

        I personally would never hire, let alone promote, a person who finds punctuation to be optional.

  32. HFG says:

    The only thing that I think needs to be added to these discussions is the fact that to get a promotion or raise you need to ask every time. Every woman I know who moves up regularly has asked for every move – and heard the word no more than a few times. No one is gonna come to your house, wake you up and hand you a pile of money and a juicy title even if you are Miss Office Congeniality.

  33. Mark W. says:

    Take the test. Ask your boss (and maybe even a co-worker if you want to take it that far) to take the test ‘as you’. Compare the results of the tests including the details on the scoring of each point as a check to verify that your perception matches reality in your workplace.

  34. Alison says:

    “The most likeable person gets promoted.” How true! Now experts are busy researching the number of psychopathic managers (“Snakes in Suits”) there are in managerial and CEO positions. These people are known for their CHARM, their ability to manipulate people and their expertise in kissing up and kicking down. They lack empathy and are ruthless. Australians might recall something of the “Dr. Death” scandal in Queensland, where so many patients died needlessly. “Dr. Death” was a “likeable” man. People found him initially very charming. The Bundaberg Hospital Management liked him so much that 22 complaints lodged against him were not investigated.
    Sometimes the more “likeable” people are not “the best”. I have always been wary of people who bear their teeth a lot. A real smile is reflected in the eyes, not the teeth. Look above the pearly whites, and you are likely to find a cold pair of calculating eyes.

  35. Alison says:

    I was working in the public service when promotion based on experience (seniority) was replaced by “merit”. This happened in the mid 1980s. Almost overnight, the office culture changed. A culture of fawning sycophancy and forelock tugging developed. From the 1980s therefore, those who climbed the ladder were more likely to have been favoured personally by managers because of ingratiating behaviour, rather than demonstrated ability. Ask any public servant today what they think about their workplace. They will allmost all talk about the low morale, and tense, toxic work environment.
    I worked with a woman who always used to show her large horse sized teeth a lot, and who used to keep her teeth bared while she giggled through her nose. I watched as people opened up to her, and confided to her, obviously liking her bared teeth and nose giggling. People told her more than they should. I then watched as she turned up the management ladder and reported back everything that people had confided to her, once again baring her teeth and giggling through her nose. I worked with this woman and found she had problems with literacy, and was probably dysgraphic. Her interpretation and analytical skills were so poor she could not interpret staff policy instructions. The last I heard however, was that she was in a managerial position and that the staff under her disliked and feared her becauseof her screaming fits.

  36. Adunate Word & Design says:

    Aaah, reading Penelope’s post and the following comments makes me so appreciative of being self-employed and able to avoid office politics and hypocrisy!

    Email me for your communication needs if you want top quality, effective work from a positive, competent, hardworking, likable designer and writer. More importantly, because I don’t have to play office games, I’m honest, real and here to serve my customer!

  37. Dale says:

    @ Please

    This may be a stupid question but, have you asked for a promotion?
    Perhaps that should have been #6 in this post. We have learned here to close interviews by asking for the job (sort of). Well, why should this be any different?

    Ask for the promotion!

    And don’t just apply through the official route either. Personally let the boss know that you are interested in the promotion. It does not mean that you will get it, but at least you made the level of your interest known.
    And, if you do not get this promotion, then the next one may be easier to come by. It’s human nature for us not to disappoint someone twice, unless we have good reason!
    Just my two cents worth.

  38. Dave Aronson says:

    Great point about being too scared to do the right thing. I have seen lots of that, sometimes as the ‘fraidy-cat, and more recently as the person with the guts to step up, speak out, and do something about some situtation affecting my career, colleagues, or entire company.

    The convergence of several such things recently inspired me to purchace the domain dare2xl.com (which I was pleasantly surprised was not taken!). I have begun building a web site devoted to such things, at http://www.dare2xl.com/. Eventually I plan to have a forum, my first blog, and so on.

  39. Please says:

    Yes, last year all the management above was canned. I took over their responsibilities and did very well, so about six months ago I asked for a title change to reflect my current responsibilities–I think I put together a pretty good case. He says, no, no, no and then gave me an “average” on my annual performance review. Such a bummer. I am in negotiations right now for another job, actually. The hard part is that I REALLY like what I am doing now, but I feel that my career will totally stagnate if I don’t make a move. I obviously need to consult my career counselor :)

  40. Dale says:

    @ Please

    Sounds like your best move is out.

    Sorry:(

  41. Danny says:

    A few comments –

    1. Are you friends with your boss?
    The hardest workers don't get promoted. The most likable people get promoted.

    Not totally true. You must ask yourself what it is that makes you “friends with your boss.” Speaking from experience, I’m not going to let even my best friend ride on my coat tail unless he brings something to the table. A boss tends to like those that are not only hard working but do it with a good attitude and minimal bitching. True, if they are likeable, it helps, because that usually takes care of the good attitude and minimal bitching part but they still need to perform.

    2. Are you working on high-profile projects?

    I think your following comment said this best.
    “The key to making yourself useful to your boss is to work on the stuff that matters to your boss.”

    This is such an easy concept yet people rarely get it. Follow this simple rule. “Make your boss’ job easy.” I guarantee you will quickly be thought of as the “go to” person.

    3. Are you paid at the high end of the range for your position?

    I wouldn’t read too much into this one. You may have just been hired at a low rate from the start due to poor negotiation on your part. I assure you, your boss will quickly remedy this if you follow my advice in point #2. However, you should be concerned if your boss is not working to correct it, that means you are not highly valued.

    4. Do you work fewer hours than everyone else?

    Just do exactly what Penelope says here. Especially the part about networking. The ducking out early shit shows that you have no “self inflicted motivation or ownership.”

    5. Do you feel like you are due a promotion because of your experience?

    Experience means nothing! Experience means nothing! Experience means nothing! In case you didn’t get that. Experience means nothing! Everything you have done in the past has been paid for on previous pay checks. Every payday you (the service provider) and your company (your customer) are square! The only thing a company owes you is what you have done since the last pay check. If you ever fall victim to the “they owe me because I have been loyal” virus, and it is a virus, you are quickly on the bottom of the list and the first one to be shown the door at the next lay off “opportunity.” I purposely use the word opportunity because that is when you get rid of those un-fire-able people that barely meet requirements year after year and think the company owes them something for it. Can you say slacker?

    Great topic Penelope!

  42. Steve says:

    I would agree that interviewers tend to hire people they like, but being friends with the boss? I don’t think so. Companies that function on that level don’t seek out the best, most competent people for the job, and are not likely to thrive in a truly competitive environment. Workplace stress is a natural by-product of those organizations. Your article is demoralizing in that, if correct, it points out that most workplaces are full of suck-ups and back-stabbers, and that there is a pitiful lack of companies that adhere to the “no asshole” rule in hiring, and therefore in management policies. We should spend more time interviewing the companies we work for, and not the other way around. It seems to me that working in a field we enjoy, with people we like and respect should be the goal, rather than some status and salary based criteria modelled on the sports economics system of free agency and “comparable compensation”. If you are content with what you are doing, being “nice” kind of comes naturally, don’t you think.
    Steve Cook

  43. Catharine says:

    Hi Penelope,
    Love your blog. What is your take on the greying workforce and women upkeeping appearance? Does this factor in on the promotional front? We have two communities where we cover this topic- http://www.defineyourself.ca – discussion around women and aging and http://www.marketyourselfsmarter.com – women in the workforce. Would love to get your take.

  44. Chris Bauman says:

    Yes I agree that the people factor plays a huge part in the promotion process. I once had a personality clash with a boss and no matter how hard I worked or what my qualifications were I was side stepped. I found a position with another company.
    The hard part then is to not let this situation affect your presentation when you are interviewing for other positions. Sometimes office politics can be the hardest part of having a job.

  45. Matt says:

    I’m working for a promo at work and, according to your blog, I seem to be doing things right.

    Is there ever a point were you get along too well with your boss? Of late, my boss seems to share a lot more information about his other employees than what I’d consider normal. For example, I used to work in a group of absurdly lazy people and they started to despise me for actually accomplishing things, seeking out interesting projects, etc. Though I moved out of that group, my boss recently started managing them. He is well aware of my negative feelings toward them and he himself can’t seem to get them to work any harder without them whining louder. He shares a lot of his frustrations about them with me. I just respond with how I used to deal with them and give him my two cents on what works/what doesn’t. Does that cross the line in some way? I don’t know what to think about it.

  46. Jim says:

    Great post. Like many here, I am at the point where this month, I should find out if I have been promoted or not. My name has been submitted to the execs, so we shall see.

    As I see it, it is the intangibles that count more than anything else. A year and a half ago, I set a purposeful course toward promotion. I obtained two extremely important certifications, one a senior level and one a master level. I let it be known to my boss I wanted to take on more team leadership responsibility. I’ve become an active, and vocal, mentor. I shamelessly take every opportunity to promote myself and become more visible. Bottom line…I play the game ruthlessly, but always with a smile and a handshake.

  47. Kelly Olsakovsky says:

    I have to take a little issue with point #1. Yes, it’s important to know how to wrangle office politics and be likeable to supervisors and co-workers, however you should not get promotions based solely on “who likes you.” Merit needs to matter. I’ve worked way too many places and seen way too many people get promotions or better assignments because they were friends with the boss.

    I just left a job because my manager did not like me. It was very very clear to me after about three months that I could not develop a closer relationship with her, or even manage to have that level of working cordiality (I think I just made a new word) with her, and the last three months I was there were pure hell.

    As professional adults, we ought to be able to say “you know, I don’t like you very much but you do good work and we can be civil and cordial.” People don’t stay in jobs forever, you’ve said that much before, so it’s just a matter of keeping things productive until it’s time for someone to move on.

    I guess I’ve just seen the other side of that one, and it’s not as simple as just being friends with the boss, or even being friendly with the boss.

  48. Katie says:

    I scored a 6. I feel this quizzy is mostly on target – likeability really improves the overall work environment. Especially on my team, if you’re not a total douchebag, people are willing to work with you. Our management is especially pleased to see that we work well as a team.

    From a service perspective, I find that I am able to stand out more by establishing good rapport with the customers who frequently complement my performance in follow-up surveys.

    Being nice goes a long way. All the way around.

  49. Dan Eustace says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Always like peeking into your blog for the different perspective. Thank you!

    For a targeted audience of STMs (science, technical and mathematical) knowledge workers, please consider the listing in:

    http://blog.nesacs.org/?p=229

    Dan

  50. Please says:

    By the way, got the job, took the job! Better money, title, and atmosphere. Whew. Can’t wait to start.

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