Blackmailing our Bosses! Can we put an end to it?

Blackmailing our Bosses! Can we put an end to it?

Kamal Karanth 11/04/2018 4

Oh! You have never done that? think carefully for 2 more minutes, allow some flashback of conversations with your bosses to refresh you. Even now if you are pleading innocent, I will take you through your memory lane in detail.

If the following is true, then I contend that you have blackmailed your boss one way or the other at some point.

  1. You have changed a few jobs in your career
  2. Got a few awards and promotions in your current or past jobs
  3. Ensured your title changed without the job content or compensation changing
  4. You got a Work from Home option which others haven’t
  5. You have been on an official overseas trip which had no material impact to your team or organisation (Nobody admits that they had a non consequential trip)

Yes, all these things can be achieved without having to threaten your bosses. Most probably you would have achieved it due to your talent and performance. Only lesser mortals like me actually have indulged in this act of blackmailing. Looks like I am dramatising the word blackmailing? Maybe to an extent, but carefully evaluate the tone, vocabulary and behaviour of yours with your manager in some of the work contexts. If you are a manager then recollect some of these conversations below.

“Competitor X has offered me a higher salary than my recent increment here. I am disappointed that I did not get the annual award, I don’t think I want to come to the awards ceremony. My ex-colleague Janet has joined company “Y” as Vice President. I don’t think I can travel daily in this traffic for long hours.” A Head Hunter called me today for a job which has overseas trips bundled into it.

The tone of these conversations and your follow up behaviour define if it’s a request or a demand. If you are asking for personal benefits in an implicit or explicit way and hinting to quit I would call it blackmail. Most of us have come to this conclusion that nudges, subtle hints or asking don’t work anymore. In fact, it might even be true. Often, only when it dawns on the supervisor that s/he will ‘lose’ their key employee the call to reward them is taken. I guess this loss threat works with all the power points in the organisation. The manager uses this threat with HR or his supervisors to convince that the employee needs a raise or promotion.

For all the relationship, we claim to share with our bosses why can’t we accept what we 'get' through the due process? Well, that’s impossible as we like to feel deprived during appraisals and promotion seasons. I wonder how it’s possible to continue to work in harmony with the same people after threatening them to quit?

Now picture this, you got a promotion after quoting an offer from competition. I am sure you will be elated and will thank your boss/HR if you are the grateful types. You will throw parties to your office friends who coached you how to get it, also celebrate it with family members/friends who think you got a deserved promotion. But do you have the courage to tell them that you blackmailed your boss and got this promotion? Ever imagined after getting the promotion at gun point how would it be to continue work with the same person? Honestly, like you I never bothered too :)

When I think back in time I feel embarrassed remembering some of the conversations I had with my bosses. I don’t know what I was thinking then. Submerged in the wave of emotions I have made demands that can be considered blackmail now. I can say my bosses have been generous and have not held those demands against me. Not that they gave everything that I asked for, but there were a few that they conceded :) During my corporate ladder ascent, I rationalised my blackmail as a payback for the performance demands my bosses made.

I don’t know how you rationalise your blackmail and go back to work with the same person.

Maybe the same way we grew up when we got things at home after throwing a tantrum. I suppose our parents conceded to our demands due to love or want of harmony at home. I am sure they held no grudges against our bad behaviour though they might have felt blackmailed then. But unlike family at work, memories remain and can cause scars in people’s mind.

The other challenge is that performance will not always be on our side. So the cycles will turn against us too. Not all bosses will always be benevolent to yield or forgive for blackmailing them. The most important thing is karma, you might also be a manager soon. So, it shall come back to you in the same form through your reportee.

The only way to forever remain a beneficiary of blackmails is to decline promotions and remain an Independent contributor. Now, that shouldn’t be hard!

Nobody can blackmail me anymore, I have closed my mind to it.

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  • Denise McMaw

    Better to swallow your pride and accept the consequences than to live in fear.

  • Michael Duffy

    Everything you do comes back to you.

  • Steven Holvey

    Some people create their own storms and get mad when it rains.

  • Kirsty Terry

    To all blackmailers, you get what you give. Be careful what you wish for.

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Kamal Karanth

Management Expert

Kamal is the Co-Founder of Xpheno, a specialist talent solutions company that offers direct hire, IT staff augmentation and engineering professional services. Xpheno brings people and companies together, to contribute to the creation of high-performing specialist workforce. Kamal holds a Bachelor degree in Microbiology from Bangalore University. 

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