Blackmailing our bosses: Can we put an end to it?

Blackmailing our bosses: Can we put an end to it?

800 371 Kamal Karanth

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Oh! You have never indulged in blackmail? think carefully for 2 more minutes, allow some flashback of your conversations with 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 specialize in blackmailing your boss or maybe already guilty of it.

  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

Yes, all these things can be achieved without having to threaten our 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 dramatizing 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 colleague Janet who left us recently has joined company “Y” as Vice President. I don’t think I can travel daily on 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 these in an implicit or explicit way and hinting to quit I would call it to blackmail. Most of us have come to this conclusion that nudges, subtle hints or asking don’t work. 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 appropriately reward them is taken.  I guess this loss threat works with all 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 relationships, 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 the competition. I am sure you will be elated and will thank your boss/HR as applicable. 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 gunpoint 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 not held those demands against me. Not that they gave everything that I asked, but there were a few that they conceded:-). During my corporate ladder ascent, I rationalised blackmailing as a payback for the performance demands my bosses made.
The following article gives few insights into the other side of the coin, as to how the bosses do it  

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 at work, memories remain and can cause scars in people’s minds.
The other challenge is that performance will not always be on our side. Not all bosses will always be benevolent to yield or forgive for blackmailing them. The most important thing is karma, you will 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 as Independent contributor. Now, that shouldn’t be hard!


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