Kissing up to Your Boss Doesn't WorkLast month Zenger Folkman issued a press release in honor of National Boss Day. Not realizing there was such a day (does that say something about me as a boss?), I looked it up. I learned that it’s celebrated on October 16 in the United States and Canada as “a day for employees to thank their bosses for being kind and fair throughout the year.” It was registered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1958 and backed by an Illinois Governor in 1962 who officially proclaimed the day. Hallmark offered a card for sale in 1979 and “increased the size of its National Boss Line” by 28 percent in 2007!

But for anyone hoping that kissing up to their boss will increase ratings of their effectiveness they’re falling for a tired old stereotype — and badly off track. “A common assumption that people make about improving the rating of their manager is that over-the-top efforts to score ‘brownie points’ helps those who stoop to that kind of behavior,” said Jack Zenger, CEO of Zenger Folkman. There are more significant steps employees can take to effectively manage their manager and receive high marks.”

In a study of over 27,000 leaders, Zenger Folkman identified managers who rated their direct reports significantly more positive than others rated them and compared this group to those whose manager rated them significantly lower than others rated them. The study identified eight key behaviors that lead to success with a manager:

  • Having strategic clarity and direction
  • Quickly recognizing problems, trends, and opportunities
  • Looking for opportunities to improve
  • Setting stretch goals
  • Energizing and inspiring others
  • Taking initiative and achieving results
  • Embracing change and innovation
  • Communicating powerfully

“There are significant issues that managers care about, and proactively practicing these eight behaviors will help employees earn the respect of their managers,” said Joe Folkman, president of Zenger Folkman. “Our recommendation is that you select two of these behaviors that would have the greatest impact on your job assignment and where you have passion and interest in improvement.

Zenger Folkman’s new book, How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths (The Globe and Mail review is at Excellent? Counterintuitive tips on how to be exceptional) provides a very helpful roadmap to follow Joe’s recommendation.

Clearly the best way to please your boss is with big kisses of extraordinary performance! That comes from building a few of your natural strengths (ones that really matter to your job) from good to great.