When you first set foot into the world of working, it might seem to you like an advanced form of school. And there is always this strong desire to make a good first impression especially in-front of your boss. A lot of the rules are the same between work and school. You can’t be late. You have to do your work and be quiet.You could start to believe as many people do that schools were designed to turn children into good employees when they grow up.
Work does not have to have anything in common with school. Work is best when it’s lively and creative, but too many workplaces are anything but lively and creative. They are dark-energy places where employees are strictly judged on their output in numeric terms, as though they were machines instead of people. When you start a job, you may fall into the trap of believing that you will have it made in the shade when you are the boss’s favorite employee. As kids in school a lot of us were oriented to be the teacher’s pet.We longed for grown-up approval and acknowledgment, and working people do the same thing. That’s the ideal state. Still, it’s one thing to excel at your job and to know it in yourself. It’s another thing to spend your precious energy trying to do a great job not for yourself or for the world, but only so that your boss will pat you on the head.Your boss is an important person while you have your job. It’s understandable that working people want to keep the boss happy. It’s very important though to keep your frame of reference pointed in the right direction.Don’t become your boss’s favorite employee, because that is not a good place from which to maintain the altitude and perspective you need on your career. It’s great to have a collaborative relationship with your boss and even to be his or her chief adviser. That’s a fantastic thing.
Here are five reasons you don’t want to be your boss’s favorite employee.
1. When your boss dotes on you, other people will trust you less. Can we blame them? They will assume your boss is telling you things they don’t get to hear, and they’ll assume that you’re telling the boss everything they say.
2. When you become your boss’s favorite, people will believe that you get special favors and they will see you through that lens. Even if you don’t get to leave early whenever you want to or get other perks on the job, your co-workers will believe you do, because they can see how much the boss likes you.
3. When you are your manager’s pet employee, your decision-making will shift to incorporate your boss’s preferences. The shift may be imperceptible at first. At a certain point you will realize with a start that you are carrying out your boss’s wishes instead of acting on your own convictions.
4. People in your sphere who would benefit from knowing you as an independent professional will see you in the role of Your Boss’s Favorite Employee and won’t take you as seriously as they would if you were operating under your own steam. In a hierarchical organization — including almost every workplace — your boss’s conferred power gives you extra “oomph” that makes people jump to fulfill your requests but doesn’t help you grow your flame. The fake authority conferred by your boss dims your flame, in fact, because you become an instrument of your boss’s will when you are operating under the boss’s authority instead of your own.
5. When you are your boss’s favorite, your fate and your boss’s fate are tied together. No matter how much you like and respect your boss, it’s your career to lead, not theirs.
Is there a middle ground where you can stay independent from your boss and still be the trusted adviser and top performer you want to be? There is. To stay on the right side of that line, check in with yourself often. Ask yourself “Am I doing what I’m doing right now because it’s the right thing to do, or am I doing it because my boss would like to hear that I did it?”
Ask yourself this question, too: “Am I willing to speak my truth when I disagree with my manager or do I value my place at my boss’s feet so highly that I’ll keep my opinion to myself?”