How To Get Ahead At Work Without Brown Nosing

Brown-nosing. My personal definition is that brown-nosing is when someone sticks their nose up someone’s figurative ass. They get right up cozy into the crack and take a good big wiff of whatever’s up there just so they can get close to the decision maker in their company and benefit from it. Flattery, compliments, baby-talk, gifts and other inappropriate behavior is how the brownnoser get’s their nose as far up that crack as they can go.

I personally find brown-nosing to be the most disgusting, underhanded, and pathetic thing to do at work. And yet so many people are just so willing to throw their self respect in the garbage and brown-nose their way into a big paycheck.

Why?

Because it works. Bosses have egos and for some reason they like when people brown-nose. It makes them feel important in their position. After all, why would someone take a job with more responsibility and stress if they weren’t getting some status and money in return?

But despite how effective and despicable brown-nosing is, there are some of us that hold onto our dignity and just can’t get ourselves to stick our noses up our boss’s ass to get ahead.

Thankfully, you don’t have to sell your soul to get promoted.

Here Are My Top Ways Of Getting Noticed At Work Without Having To Kiss Up To Your Boss.

Be Reliable, Be On Time

This works wonders. Just being on time and being reliable can say a lot about your character. People who are consistently late are generally perceived as lazy, unreliable, selfish and irresponsible. Even if you’re late once, you can leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth depending on how important it was that you be on time. Some people say that they can’t control traffic, their kids ability to get out of the house on time or that there was a random emergency that came up. 99% of those excuses are bullsh*t. Planning ahead can easily help you with your tardiness issue. You need to anticipate where you need to be and all the obstacles that can get in your way and aim to be early. By being timely, you’re saying to the world that I respect your time, I’m reliable and I’ll do what I say I will do.

And what kind of boss wouldn’t want an employee like that. When it comes down to it, if you’ve proven that you’re reliable, your boss will see that and give you more opportunities over the unreliable employees.

Speak Your Mind, Share Your Ideas

I used to be so afraid to share my ideas at work. Mainly because my ideas would question the status quo or a direction the company was taking. I was afraid of rocking the boat. I don’t mean “question” like in an adversarial way, but I tend to offer a different alternative. I think that speaking your mind and offering your perspective can be incredibly empowering and help you stand out.

And occasionally I’m able to offer a view that’s highly valued. There have been times when I pointed out a flaw in a program that we started using or a scheduling conflict or paperwork that needed to be completed. Catching these problems early and being able to point them out efficiently has help me seem like I know what I’m doing at my job, that I’m not sloppy, and that I care about the quality of my work.

Be A Team Player

I’ve actually been guilty of not being a team player 100% of the time but this is definitely something you want to do if you want to get noticed. Being a team player means sometimes letting the other person get work that you wanted to do, stepping outside of your role and training others and taking the advice of others around you.

Being a team player is actually really hard because, often, your company is asking you to take part in something that you don’t necessarily agree with, whether it’s the direction of the company with a new hire, or merging departments.

But being able to step up to the plate during those difficult times and have a positive attitude can absolutely make you stand out to upper management.

Ask For More Responsibility

Asking for more responsibility is not necessarily brown-nosing. It really depends on how you approach it. Are you saying that you want to do more work than other people and that you’re better at your job than other people? That would be brown-nosing. But if you really have some extra room on your plate to do some work then go ahead and ask for it. The worst thing to do is to skate by with as little work as possible while everyone else is drowning

A good boss will definitely appreciate initiative and may even take this as a sign that you’re ready for the next step, like a change in role, a promotion or a shift in responsibilities.

So asking for additional responsibility it’s definitely not brown-nosing as long as you do it in a tactful way, without throwing others under the bus and are honest about your intentions for why you want to take on the extra work.

At the end of the day, let your work speak for itself. You don’t need to kiss up to someone, give unnecessary gifts, flatter or any of that stuff to get ahead. People who do that are just really insecure about what they have to offer and then want to play the “like me card.”

And as a caveat, if you’re not getting ahead after putting in good work, loyalty and years on the job then it’s probably a good time to consider other options and opportunities. Not all employers will see good employees and reward them but that’s on them and usually results in a higher turnover.

So just be yourself. Work hard and be friendly. Brown nosing it is never the way to go if you want to keep your dignity.

Check Out My Other Career Posts

What To Do When You Dislike Your Job

How To Interview Well: Tips & Tricks For The Perfect Interview

Dealing with Toxic Work Culture

How to Job Hop Successfully

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What To Do When You Dislike Your Job

 

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I’m going back to work in less than a month, my maternity leave is over and I really wish it wasn’t ending. Though it would be nice to earn real money again, short term disability and paid family leave is really nothing in terms of compensation.

During my time of just being at home with family, I realized why I’m always so on edge and why I’ve been so unhappy with my career. I finally have the job that I’ve been looking for for so long, but it’s the people that make it miserable.

You see, I thought I would be happy doing challenging work with competitive pay but I was wrong.

There’s not a single one of my bosses that I’ve liked. You can follow all my blog posts and see just how miserable this job has made me. Yet I stay because of the benefits; because I have to put food on the table.

  • I’m Beginning To Realize It’s Just Me.

I’m not a team player and organizations don’t like that. They want someone who’s going to do what they’re told, follow the pack, play fair and be nice, all while being trampled on. And I don’t know how to be a team player in that kind of environment.

Ever noticed whenever you question something at work or you you realize that you’re taking on more work than you should, they always throw out “be a team player?” Like that propaganda is going to make me forget that I am being used beyond my compensation. If I already know that I have no chance of being promoted mainly due to the culture of the company, why would I do more and why would I want to be a team player on a team that doesn’t recognize hard work and excellence?

The truth is I work better on my own. I like to solve my own problems, have my own system and have autonomy over the quality of my work. With team environments, generally, jobs want a systematic approach that’s not necessarily most efficient, consistency across the board and groupthink where everyone has the same opinion. And that’s just not me and that’s not going to change, I’ve tried.

So here I am, a black sheep in a white flock, trying to stay inconspicuous.

I Haven’t Met A Manager I Respect

I honestly have rarely met a manager I can respect. Just because you’re above me in rank or in compensation doesn’t mean you own me; the corporate world kind of forgets that.

The only manager that I have ever been able to respect was one that looked out for their employees, mentored them and wanted to see them succeed. Plenty of managers will pay lip service to that kind of idea but actions always speak louder than words with me. And someone who doesn’t walk the walk is less than a manager in my eyes.

So right now my manager is someone who complains a lot, wants to get things his way, a brown noser and someone who pretends to be nice but really isn’t. I’ve worked with him for about a year and a half now so I have low hopes that things will get better. I just can’t get myself to respect him.

So what do I do? When I’m working at a job that has no growth with a manager I don’t respect?

My goal for when I come back to work is to just keep my head down and take it day by day.

I’m not going to pretend like I love my job or that I respect my manager or that I’m even friends with my coworkers, because I’m not. What I can do is control my attitude and realize that I’m at this job for a reason. I can quit any day I want. But I don’t. And that’s because I still need to keep this job for whatever reason whether it’s benefits or pay.

A lot of career advice will tell you to just talk it out with your boss or change directions at work or put everything in emails, but sometimes that advice is just full of shit.

I’m giving real world advice here and that is: work’s not fair and work’s not always right. You have to keep a long-term goal in mind even when you’re doing something you hate because you’re not going to be at that job forever. And I want to say that there’s nothing wrong with you just because you can’t fit into corporate culture; it’s really not for everyone. It’s not for me either but you need to use it as an opportunity even if it’s only a short-lived one.

Worst than being at a job that you dislike is being the person who’s constantly jobhunting for the perfect job, which I don’t believe exists unless you’re your own boss and can control your work environment.

So my main point is to make an exit plan, find out what you love and find a way to monetize that. Then make a deadline on how you’re going to make that your full-time job and do it. Your day job can just be a steppingstone, something that can get you to the next place in life.

Maybe I’m not corporate made, it’s not who I am but somehow I’m going to find a way to make my job work for me and help me grow into a career that I can be proud of and love.

It’s OK if you’re failing at work or just getting by, as long as you treat it like an opportunity and a stepping stone to help get you the kind of work you love.

Dealing with Toxic Work Culture

Stress at your job or feeling over worked concept.

This is my first post in a while. Thought I would just get back into it. I’ve been working at my “well paying” but toxic job. By toxic, I mean totally manipulative, cut throat, constantly changing and stressful toxic workplace. But luckily, I am on maternity leave until August. I’ve been there nearly 3 years and somehow managed to survive and out live several other employees.  Yet still I have days where the toxic work culture kicks me down and I feel totally lost on what to do.

I have survived 1 horrible bitchy manager only to be replaced by a slightly less horrible condescending, sexist manager. I survived 5 receptionists and countless weekend receptionists. I survived 1 assistant director. All these people gone and yet I remain.

For me my motivation for staying in this dead end job include the fact that I am paid well (for now), have good health insurance, have a decent schedule. And honestly, I would hate to quit and give in to the bullies. How would I feel knowing that I was run out of a perfectly good job because people are assholes?  It’s still worth staying even though I hate my job sometimes.

So here are my tips on staying sane and staying on your grind. Your job is definitely not perfect, but it’s still a job that puts food on the table.

1. Be Humble: Pride is the worst vice and when you start to think that you are better or more deserving of something ,that’s when resentment builds. Yes, know your worth. But if you’re in a position where you need to stay at your job, resentful feelings are really just  a waste of energy. I used to want justice for every slight or disagreement. But that desire for justice came from a place of pride, not a place of actual righteousness. Learn to recognize where you are being prideful and instead ask yourself how you can be humble. I like to be humble by telling myself I just need to focus on my own performance, my own objectives and my own motivation.

2. Focus on the positives: Understand your reason for being there. What are your financial goals? How do you plan to make the most of this experience? How does this add to your resume? Do you like this position in general, maybe there are aspects of it that you like? Focusing on these points will help make your job more bearable and less stressful. The effects of positive thinking are numerous. If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it, change how you think about it.

3. Care less: If you’re a type A personality this might be a hard one but recognize that you don’t have to love your job. Your job doesn’t even need to love you. All you need is just to do your job. Show up and get it done. Your job isn’t going to dry your tears when they lay you off or fire you. They’re not going to give you more time off than allowed when your going through a tough time. If they don’t care, why should you? I’ve spent too much time caring about a position that doesn’t give two sh*ts about me. I know this, yet my struggle lies in the desire to be acknowledged. Stop wanting that acknowledgement and you’ll start to feel the burden of stress lifted off your shoulders.

4. Build your own support network outside of work: Do not commiserate with coworkers. They can’t be trusted and it can be construed as spreading gossip. Friends, family, online network of strangers on Reddit or blogs going through the same thing…these can be a great base of support when you feel like just giving up in general and stressed from work. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it certainly wasn’t built by one man. Being able to vent in a safe place is key and essential to your mental health.

5. Document, document, and document: some workplace bullying is illegal and discriminatory especially when it pertains to protected classes like age, sex, disability etc. The issue is that it’s not always clear up front whether you are being discriminated or not. So document everything. Make sure everything is in writing. If there is discrimination it will flush itself out as long as everything is documented and written.

6. Make an exit plan and stick to it: If your job is really messing with your mental health, the truth is you just can’t stay there. It’s ok to make plans to leave. How many times have I said “I’m going to find a way to quit,” and magically the job gets better and I decide to stay? This cycle has repeated itself so many times. But your mental health is NOT WORTH IT. Make plans to either find another job or build your own business.  Do something that will earn residual income or passive income so you can take a lesser paying job on top of that.  It might take a year, it might take 3 years but those years will pass you by faster than you think. Being perpetually miserable for a paycheck isn’t the answer so find a way to break the cycle and commit to your exit plan.

Overall, employment takes an average of 2080 hours per year. But that still leaves 6680 hours in a year to get stuff done and pursue your passion. Work isn’t the end all be all and if you get fired or if you quit, your identity won’t be lost. We are not what we do for a living.

My husband always tells me this when I stress out, “They don’t pay you enough to stress like this.” And he’s right, they definitely don’t. I’m not an executive or a director. Why should I be stressing the way they would about their jobs?

To sum up this blog post, working in a toxic environment is tough, probably tougher than working in a physically demanding environment. But finding ways to cope in a stressful job when you have no other options is essential to your wellbeing and mental health.  Workplace stress is not worth it.  Work, work, work and all stress would drive anybody crazy.

Check out my other posts!!

Office Politics: Win At The Workplace

Top 6 Ways To Maintain A Work Life Balance When Your Job Is Stressing You Out

My Job is Killing Me….

Women at Work: I’m Sorry, We Haven’t Come That Far.

When I started working and building my career in real estate, hell, even when I was in college, there was always this talk about women pushing their careers and fighting for equality in the workplace. There were women’s groups and women’s networking events to help us get our foot in the door.

I envisioned myself being seen as a capable, smart and reliable professional.  I would be able to prove myself and be respected in the field of my choice.

Now, nearly 10 years later, it’s time to talk about the reality.

Statistics about women at work

  • More women are graduating college than ever. Now more women than men.
  • 47% of the US workforce are women.
  • Women are not well represented at the executive level of business.

On one hand, I think women dominate in roles that fit the qualities of a “stereotypical woman,” such as caretaker, support staff, beauty and talent positions. This is why women are seen in roles such as: secretary, teachers, beauty bloggers, nurses, paralegal, and fashion assistants in an overwhelmingly disproportionate amount to men.

But does that result in equality? When we are given a majority of supporting roles? We’re still not the decision makers or shot callers in a majority of these industries.

But, what about jobs that are equally men/women or dominantly men?

From my own experience, we’re not faring so well.  I work in real estate and it’s a mans world out here.

Yet, when I was told at my job that a man would take the position of manager, a position I was never even considered for, I was relieved.  Let it not be a woman, I thought.

My previous manager was a woman and if you haven’t had a chance to read all the horrible things she did to me and put me through, you can do so through my post, I Survived A Toxic Manager.

I felt that way because, throughout my whole career in Real Estate, I’ve rarely had another women help me.  I’ve also never felt like I was in a position to help other women, though I still tried.  I don’t know why but there was always this underlying level of competition with other women.  A type of, “If I’m not on top, then she’ll be” mentality.

And that’s kind of how we differ from men. Men are capable of building camaraderie upon meeting each other.  They help eachother out.  They see other men in the workplace and see opportunity rather than competition.

My she-devil manager used to make all types of requests to Upper Management. “Let’s get an extra pair of keys,” “Let’s get an intern for summer season,” “Let’s get a shred-box so client information will be better protected.”  Nope. Never happened under her.  But as soon as my male manager made the same requests to our male directors, it was like “why didn’t we think of this sooner, done.”  It was like night and day, how the two managers worked.

She would come up with detailed, fact based reports for her suggestions, Upper Management would usually critique the work or diminish it with other reports they had access to.  My male manager slaps together a report with half the effort, no one says a word.

In some ways I understood why my previous manager was so horrible. She had to develop a really callous attitude in order to get as far as she did.

But how much farther would women get if we supported each-other? When she left I asked her to recommend me for one of the opening positions. She replied, “I’ve just never seen you in that type of role.”  Not even a NO, just some type of passive comment to absolve her of why she couldn’t recommend me.

C’mon, as women we can do better.

Don’t believe me? The same story played out in public between two female Rappers. Rap and hip hop in general is a male dominated genre.

The brawl that recently happened between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B occurred over perceived slights from Nicki trying to keep Cardi out of opportunities. I know, I know, the whole story is absolutely ridiculous.  But think about it…if women at the top of a male dominated industry are pushing each other down in public, what are women doing to each other in private, behind closed doors?

We really need to do better.

Men are generally automatically assumed to be capable. Women need to prove it.

When we hired our Intern, A, our receptionist, B, had just gotten her real estate license. All she needed was to be sponsored by a brokerage and she could start showing apartments.

I mentioned the possibility of our company sponsoring B to my Asst. Director, she brought it up to her male superiors, who passed.  There just wasn’t a position available. (A position would eventually open up later, but it was quickly filled by another male “admin” who could show apartments).

In the meantime, our new male manager F was allowing our male intern A to tour his clients unlicensed.

I wish I could do more for B, it’s essentially just as much of a dead-end job for her as it is for me, but we need our receptionist. F could really care less if she grows professionally, he needs her in her current role.

It’s messed up because I’m not in a place to make a difference in her career, though I’d like to, and the person who is doesn’t care.

I watched the match where Serena Williams was yelling at the umpire. It’s crazy that the match ended over that and she lost for confronting what she thought was an unfair call. Men in tennis have admitted they have done worst in matches with no reprimand. Shit like that gets me. Like if Serena Williams, an all time great of tennis, can’t get equal treatment on the courts, how can any of us ordinary folk even stand a chance? Apparently bad behavior from male tennis players isn’t as serious as female tennis players.

There’s no doubt that women are still falling behind in treatment in the workplace. But I wish we could change:

1. The fact that women are against each other in environments where we need to stick together and lift each other up.

2. That women aren’t being treated as capable or assumed as capable as men.

3. Women are being penalized for infractions at work or in sports that men aren’t penalized for. (Ex, Joe can take 3 cigarettes breaks while Mary gets scolded if she’s more than 10 minutes late.)

We’d like to think that women have gone farther than this or even that $.90 for every $1.00 is worth more than it is. But it’s not. I encourage everyone reading to think about their own assumptions at the workplace. Enough people making preferences about their gender or opposite gender can create an environment of sexism at work. It’s never just one person.  So I my recommendation is start with change of mind and change of thought to keep sexist assumptions and behavior out of the workplace.

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Office Politics: Win At The Workplace

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Stand Up For Yourself, Even When You Have Everything To Lose

Office Politics: Win At The Workplace

When I started my new position, I really didn’t know what I was in for. Really! I had been working independently as a real estate agent and basically could make my own rules about my business. I was so excited to start my new opportunity, it was more money, more benefits and a better schedule. Previously I would be working evenings or even going days between clients.

But the thing about working independently is that there is very little office politics! Almost none! It was glorious. I didn’t have to ask for too much permission and as long as I worked within the brokerage’s rules and made money, no one bothered me.

So moving to an organization that had 500+ employees and too many departments, I quickly realized that I was in over my head when it came to office politics. So much red tape, so much bureaucracy.  I couldn’t make a decision without the person ahead of me giving the go ahead. I didn’t know who could get me the things I needed for my role and I certainly didn’t know how to use politics to get ahead. At the time I felt like I knew so much about my industry and my job. I could do this job and shine like any other position I had.

Nope. I was not prepared for the level of politics that the position required.  I didn’t know how to create boundaries between me and my superiors when I felt like my toes were being stepped on.  I didn’t know how to make sure I would get credit for the work I was doing.  I didn’t now how to be my own advocate.

And it cost me. When the time came for promotions to be considered, I wasn’t even up on the table. It wasn’t until after the role had been hired was my value as an employee recognized.

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I don’t care enough about the office politics, but in ways it cost me.

If you’re going to do extra work to be noticed, the politics game is a must.  Otherwise why go above and beyond and not get the right credit?

Here are some lessons I learned to get you recognized and make sure you are known, respected and valued.

Makes sure to understand everyone’s role and scope of work.

The workplace is treacherous and one of the first lessons you learn is how not to step on people’s toes. When you make assumptions or take on someone else’s role, even unwittingly, you can make people upset. Don’t be like my colleague John who assumes we can just give away free rent, when it’s only billing that can apply those kind of charges. Now John has to smooth things over with billing to get them to offer something he wasn’t supposed to offer.

I like to make a chart to remember what everybody does. There’s Lisa in Billing that handles all the funds from clients. There’s Nicole in Renewals that returns the security deposit.  I should reach out to Eric in Treasury when we receive wires. All of these people work with issues related to money and funds, but imagine how annoyed these people would be if I referred client’s to them for the wrong issues or if I gave out wrong information related to their roles, and they needed to clean the mess?

We have numerous departments and roles in my company.  You have to reach out to person X if you need help with Y or person B if you need help with A.

Knowing people’s roles and functions can help you build relationships in the workplace and become a more efficient employee.

When you take part in a project make sure you are named as a collaborator

The only person looking out for you is you.

Rule #1. Just because you’re chummy with your coworker doesn’t mean they will give you the recognition you deserve. Unless you can see every email they send and attend every meeting they go to, then you can’t know.

The only way you can be sure to be getting the credit for the work you do is to make it VERY clear you were included.

That’s by making sending emails and making a statement. It can be as simple as:

“Hi Dom, I just wanted to let you know that person X allowed me to be part of this project and I did A, B, and C.  I really enjoyed taking part in this exercise.  Let me know if there are any more projects like this, I’d love to take part!”

It’s just about putting your foot in the door and letting the people who are decision-makers know what you’re capable of doing and that you are open to more.

Make nice and be a team player

This one is the easiest.  Don’t try to play politics by throwing other people under the bus.  First, it’s not nice, and second, you never know when it’ll backfire.

My new manager N had sent an email crudely critiquing one of the marketing strategies.  He had sent it to our Director, who didn’t really even bother reading it, so forwarded it to the Marketing Director.  Well, N got a scathing email back from the Marketing Director basically telling him he has no idea what he’s talking about.  Apparently N didn’t expect his email to get around.

You never know when you’ll need another person’s help in an organization.  So why burn bridges?  What you need to do is build connections so that when you need a favor, it’s there for you.

N has already burned bridges with our Assistant Director, Marketing Director and Renewals Manager.

Being nice doesn’t have to mean you’re a doormat, it just helps keep you from being on other peoples shit-list.

Attend the company events

Everyone goes to the summer outing and the holiday party.  These events are a fun time to unwind, relax and kind of commiserate with your colleagues.

It’s also an opportunity to bump shoulders with your higher ups and pick their brains.  We have different offices in the company, so it’s also a way for me to actually meet people I’ve never seen but have emailed with a billion times over for projects.

Overall, it’s a great way to show face and make sure the right people can put the correct face to your name when talking about accomplishments and performance.

Work the numbers

Every job has it’s own metrics in terms of measuring an employee’s level of performance.

This was the hardest for me to learn.  I figured if I just did my work the numbers would reflect my efforts.  I really didn’t even take the time to learn EXACTLY how my performance was being measured.

The result?   My performance was not being completely represented by the numbers.

Upper Management doesn’t care about getting to know each and every individual employee.  Or working on their strengths and weaknesses.  They SAY they want to do that.  But Upper Management is made up of people, who, at the end of the day, want to just get the job done and done quickly.  In order to consider individual performance, at my company, metrics are KING.

Whether the numbers and metrics are right 100% depends on you and making sure you’re getting the credit for the work you do and being recognized.

Some people go as far as working the numbers in such a way that it starts to be very little work to look high performance.  Those people know how to PLAY THE GAME.

Get other people to say good things about you

My Asst. Director is good at this.  Almost shameless about it too.  She MUST get credit for her contribution at work.  She kind of needs it since she struggles to grasp the entire scope of her work.

She will straight up ask people to mention her contributions in meetings, while mentioning all the times she talked you up to the higher ups and stoking your ego.  She’s asked me! I don’t mind saying good things about other people because that just means you’re in alliance and they’re more likely to say good things about you.

You also want your work to be so good that other departments will know you and mention that you do “good work” or that you’re “very knowledgeable.”

It’s through the mouths of other people that you build a reputation, whether it be good or bad.

Brag and get credit for your accomplishments

This is kind of like getting other people to say good things about you except it’s just you saying good things about yourself.

I used to think that talking yourself up and bragging was in bad taste in the workplace but over time it’s become more normal for me.

Work is just too busy!  Who’s going to really remember who did what, who set what record, what your most recent accomplishment was, other than you?  It’s your job to make it known and to advocate for yourself.   No one’s going to do it for you.

Even more, if you stay quiet about your accomplishments and people notice, it might be mistaken for a lack of confidence rather than humbleness.

I hope this article helps you find the confidence to make sure your contributions to your company are noticed.  These were hard lessons for me but I hope they help you along your way to success.

Feel free to read my other posts:

Top 6 Ways To Maintain A Work Life Balance When Your Job Is Stressing You Out

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Organize Your Mind: How To Be More Productive With Your Day