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  • Ego stroking

    So, I recently had a conversation with an officer within my department. During this particular conversation, he suggested that "ego stroking" is a necessary office tactic when you're trying to get your point across and get things done. It was even suggested that, as a first-line supervisor, it was my duty to stroke the ego of those in administration for the betterment of my troops.

    Now, to be honest, I was rather appalled at the suggestion. I'm a very direct (some might say "blunt") person...if someone asks a question, they're going to get an honest answer. In return, I respect honesty from others, even if the response isn't what I want to hear...I like differing opinions and think that they can be beneficial to good decision-making. I also respect a logical argument over a decision made based on emotion or personal relationships. When I make suggestions, I give logical arguments to support them and think that should be enough...I don't go in for stroking egos or kissing derrieres and find doing so goes against my personal values.

    The conversation concluded with the suggestion that, by failing to stroke the egos of those above me, I was letting my own ego take over to the detriment of my troops.

    So, when it comes to dealing with inner-office issues, have you guys found that ego-stroking is NECESSARY? I'm not talking about showing appropriate respect according to rank and position, but actively flattering? Or is this an example of "suck up to move up?"
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

  • #2
    A supervisor's job is to get his troops what they need to do their job, and deflect distractions from their job, so they can accomplish the organization's mission.

    Just like the Reed interview techniques you sometimes have to play along to get what you need.

    The conversation concluded with the suggestion that, by failing to stroke the egos of those above me, I was letting my own ego take over to the detriment of my troops.
    Very possible, and very common.

    So, when it comes to dealing with inner-office issues, have you guys found that ego-stroking is NECESSARY?
    Accomplishing the mission is necessary. It depends on the situation but shmoozing is a tool in the toolbox.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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    • #3
      Interesting question with no easy answer....

      My experience: ego-stroking is the lowest form of organizational inter-personal communication and a sign of dysfunctional management.

      Good bosses didn't want it, and wouldn't reward it.

      Bad bosses expected it, and would punish those who didn't express proper fealty.

      It can be institutional, as in some organizations demand it. One agency I worked for was big into the 'Kiss Up, Kick Down' style of management. You know- treat the people below you as cowsh*t under your shoe, but suck up and compliment anyone above you.

      One boss particularly enjoyed the dynamic. He'd get all fired up when berating and belittling subordinates, telling them how worthless they were, making threats, and setting people up to fail. But as soon as his boss was around, he was one big warm fuzzy with nothing but accolades for his superiors. Total barf like "You really showed great leadership last week, Greg, and I'm honored to be part of your team." He was a fountain of BS to his managers, and they lapped up his fawning like kittens to warm milk. And when the rank and file finally complained about the near-daily abuse, they didn't believe it. To them, he was just super awesome.

      Ego stroking never worked for me, even more so as the years passed and getting down on my knees to kiss someone's ring became physically untenable. Some of the people I worked for were so grossly unfit for leadership, it took all my energy just to be professional.

      Because I didn't play the game, I paid the price. I got passed over. And it led to one major mid-career change.

      BUT: Today I can look myself in the mirror, with not a twinge of regret. I wonder if some of the people I worked for can do the same....







      It is not the well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and hungry-looking.

      -Julius Ceasar

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      • #4
        It all depends on who you are dealing with. Some managers were straight, no BS folks with whom you could call a spade a spade and have no problem. In other cases (and for the better good) folks like Lieutenant Brain Dead, who didn't know up from down (and who I have referred to in previous posts) had to be led by the nose and have their ego fed to make them feel like things were their idea, just to get matters accomplished.
        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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        • #5
          I worked for a 400 person unit of a 5000 person statewide agency. Toward the end of my times as a line officer (14 yrs on duty) I started getting assignments that put me in a position to be around the movers and shakers of the agency.


          I was promoted to a first level managerial/supervisory position and during this time I was given an ancillary duty where I spent considerable time at the agency central office. I found out I was not going to be going any higher in the food chain . Yes I knew how to stroke egos and did so in minor ways to get what was necessary. But I was unwilling to go there in the ways necessary to REALLY be of use

          . I ended up going to midnight shift as a shift supervisor and no longer accepting assignments and spending the last 10 yrs of my career in "hiding"

          Make no bones about it....................stroking egos in just other words for playing politics.

          Surprisingly I kept my contacts in the central office in good standing and STILL was able to have some influence through backchannels
          Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

          My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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          • #6
            Sounds like brown nosing to me. I can't stand brown nosers! If a subordinate seriously suggested such thing to me I will be ****ed off.

            There's a reason you're the supervisor and not that officer. If he / she was so skilled and knowledgeable at dealing with admin why isn't he the supervisor?

            And no I've never found it necessary. Though I've learned that here is a time and place to ask for certain things.

            What are the officers wanting or needing?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bing_Oh View Post
              So, when it comes to dealing with inner-office issues, have you guys found that ego-stroking is NECESSARY? I'm not talking about showing appropriate respect according to rank and position, but actively flattering? Or is this an example of "suck up to move up?"
              If you want things to go smooth, often you need to appease the turds above you. If you don't want to deal with it, then it is what it is. With the issues you have had with your management, I can understand why you would or wouldn't want to play along. Or maybe its this particular officer who is the problem and would complain about paying taxes if he won the mega millions lotto. All you can do is what you think is right. But don't waste too much time worrying about any of it. The job is a lot easier when you do whatever you are told to do that day and just not care about anything else with the job. Stop trying to push the rock up the hill and just let go. It gets a lot easier when you do.

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              • #8
                He sounds like he'll be a Chief someday

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by westside popo View Post
                  What are the officers wanting or needing?
                  Nothing of consequence. It's not as if my officers aren't getting new vests or working firearms because the admin isn't listening to me. Sure, there have been plenty of quality-of-life suggestions that have been made (and subsequently ignored) that probably could have made things better in my department, but nothing that would be considered vital.
                  "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                  -Friedrich Nietzsche

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SHU View Post
                    If you want things to go smooth, often you need to appease the turds above you. If you don't want to deal with it, then it is what it is. With the issues you have had with your management, I can understand why you would or wouldn't want to play along. Or maybe its this particular officer who is the problem and would complain about paying taxes if he won the mega millions lotto. All you can do is what you think is right. But don't waste too much time worrying about any of it. The job is a lot easier when you do whatever you are told to do that day and just not care about anything else with the job. Stop trying to push the rock up the hill and just let go. It gets a lot easier when you do.
                    To be polite about it, I'd say my department is "dysfunctional," especially the communication (or, more specifically, the total lack thereof) between the administration and first-line supervision. Admn actively bypasses Sgts, going directly to (specific members of) patrol. Patrol bypasses Sgts, always "running to daddy" and talking directly to the Admin. There's no respect for the Sgts at all from top or bottom and the degree to which chain-of-command had fallen apart has caused a great deal of internal stress for everybody.

                    I asked the original question because I'm one of those great self-anayzer...I always want to be able to do my job better for the guys in my charge (I was an unofficial "big brother" and mentor before and it's the sole reason I ever aspired to the stripes). If there's something I can do to improve myself, I want to do it.
                    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                    -Friedrich Nietzsche

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bing_Oh View Post
                      I asked the original question because I'm one of those great self-anayzer...I always want to be able to do my job better for the guys in my charge (I was an unofficial "big brother" and mentor before and it's the sole reason I ever aspired to the stripes). If there's something I can do to improve myself, I want to do it.
                      Its good to be that way but you sooner or later you pay a price. Lots of sleepless nights and medical issues that go with it if you let it get to you. Don't let it. Just to play it safe, go to the doctor and tell him about it all so he can check you out. Make sure everything is working as it should. Stress can take a toll and your job sounds like a stress machine.

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                      • #12
                        Having been in your situation, hindsight being 20/20, I would have found someone to buy me out of my contract or just went to another state.

                        We had a chief who bent over for the patrol commander, a patrol commander who thought he was the chief (because the chief let him be that way), a sergeant who thought he was the assistant chief (because the patrol commander let him), a patrolman who thought he was a sergeant above all other sergeants (because the sergeant let him), despite my squad being more productive than the other three patrol squads, K9, and CID combined. Not just DWLS but DUIs, violent felonies, felony drugs, etc on an almost-nightly basis, upwards of 10 arrests a week between 3-4 of us, two times I should have been awarded a Lifesaving Medal and two other times I should have been standing in front of city council getting some other commendations and making the front page of the newspaper. Our "reward" was cars that wouldn't start half the time (I'm forever grateful to the guy I arrested who helped me fix the car so I could take him to jail) and radios that didn't work, etc. Good thing I did it for the people, I got my reward and so have they.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by emtguy89 View Post
                          Having been in your situation, hindsight being 20/20, I would have found someone to buy me out of my contract or just went to another state.

                          We had a chief who bent over for the patrol commander, a patrol commander who thought he was the chief (because the chief let him be that way), a sergeant who thought he was the assistant chief (because the patrol commander let him), a patrolman who thought he was a sergeant above all other sergeants (because the sergeant let him), despite my squad being more productive than the other three patrol squads, K9, and CID combined. Not just DWLS but DUIs, violent felonies, felony drugs, etc on an almost-nightly basis, upwards of 10 arrests a week between 3-4 of us, two times I should have been awarded a Lifesaving Medal and two other times I should have been standing in front of city council getting some other commendations and making the front page of the newspaper. Our "reward" was cars that wouldn't start half the time (I'm forever grateful to the guy I arrested who helped me fix the car so I could take him to jail) and radios that didn't work, etc. Good thing I did it for the people, I got my reward and so have they.
                          So you want special recognition for doing your job? That's what your paycheck is for.

                          Every department is going to have senior officers who run the day to day operations. The chief can't effectively supervise every person and every thing in the department. He appoints others and or delegates authority to senior officers to get stuff done. Those senior officers may further delegate some tasks to subordinates.

                          It happens in every department to some degree.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by westside popo View Post
                            So you want special recognition for doing your job? That's what your paycheck is for.
                            Individual recognition for a job well done is good leadership practice, though. It helps to motivate and encourage continued good work. I'm not an "everybody gets a trophy" kind of guy, but the occasional "good job" in passing (even better, in the presence of ones peers) acknowledges to an officer that their contribution is recognized and appreciated.

                            Every department is going to have senior officers who run the day to day operations. The chief can't effectively supervise every person and every thing in the department. He appoints others and or delegates authority to senior officers to get stuff done. Those senior officers may further delegate some tasks to subordinates.

                            It happens in every department to some degree.
                            I guess that depends on the degree of delegation. There comes a point when delegation turns into feeding the power-hungry and leads to huge (undeserved) egos. For example, he mentioned a patrolman who thought that he was above sergeants because he was permitted to believe it...that's not an appropriate use of delegation and destroys the chain of command.
                            "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                            -Friedrich Nietzsche

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bing_Oh View Post

                              Individual recognition for a job well done is good leadership practice, though. It helps to motivate and encourage continued good work. I'm not an "everybody gets a trophy" kind of guy, but the occasional "good job" in passing (even better, in the presence of ones peers) acknowledges to an officer that their contribution is recognized and appreciated.



                              I guess that depends on the degree of delegation. There comes a point when delegation turns into feeding the power-hungry and leads to huge (undeserved) egos. For example, he mentioned a patrolman who thought that he was above sergeants because he was permitted to believe it...that's not an appropriate use of delegation and destroys the chain of command.
                              According to his post he believed he should be paraded in front of the city council and given an award for making arrests and saving a life.

                              The rest appears to be a rookie's opinion about how the department runs. The last 2 departments I worked for had senior officers who in the absence of ranking officers made decisions. Sometimes even when they were present. I didn't always agree with them when I was the junior officer. When I was the senior officer I know the other officers didn't agree with me all the time.

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