“You boss is not your mother.” That’s the good news from one of the books I read recently, Oedipus Wrecks, by Brian Desroches. The book was named after Oedipus in the Greek legend who, in ignorance and partly from ambition, killed his own father and married his mother. The bad news, on the other hand, is that a lot of us feel and act like our managers or bosses are members of our families. The result is that we coworkers may squabble with one another in the workplace for selfish reasons. Based on the way my coworkers interact with other workers and their bosses, I can place them in three groups, the Butter-ups, the Get-alongs, and the Judases.
For the Butter-ups, flattery is the only method to get ahead. For the first year of the five years I worked as a cashier in the Ministry of Finance in Nigeria, I encountered the Butter-ups constantly. Their strategy was to compliment the boss excesively in order to win favorable personal evaluation reports, which were sent to office headquarters. These compliments came in the form of presents given to the boss on his birthday and wedding anniversary, or presents given to him for his wife’s or children’s birthdays. This group of Butter-ups was comprised of young men and women who needed a promotion and a raise in their salary to enjoy the good things of life. The Butter-ups would give such presents and a shower of praises to the boss even for no apparent reason.
Another group of coworkers I came in contact with were the Get-alongs. They just “got along with the boss.” They believed in the old fable, “Slow and steady wins the race.” I was among this Get-along group. We had a good relationship with the boss because we would often come to work fifteen minutes or more before the official opening hour and we would perform our job assignments efficiently. In spite of the fact that we offered the boss no special gifts or flattery, he had a soft spot for us because our level of neatness in our work, our attire, and our desks was impressive. In addition, our interactions with our coworkers were unruffled.
The third group of coworkers were the Judases, from…