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If you get on with your boss you’re more likely to lie for them, says science

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We generally believe that it is a good thing to have strong relationships with the people we work for and those we manage. Organizations and leaders do many things to cultivate this: retreats, one-on-one meetings, lunches, coaching – to name a few. But good relationships at work can also lead to unethical behavior.

In a recent study with our colleagues Ramzi Said and Onne Janssen, we found that people who report stronger relationships with their bosses are more likely to engage in bad behavior on their behalf. This included things like misrepresenting the truth or withholding negative information about them to make their manager look good, even if it brought themselves no obvious or immediate benefit.

We conducted two studies. One was an experiment with more than 150 workers from the United States and the other a survey of more than 200 European employees. Across the two studies, we found that when employees believed that acting unethically helped their leader, they were more likely to do so if they had a strong relationship with them compared to when the relationship was weak.

We also discovered why this was happening. Workers acted unethically as a way to reciprocate or “pay back” their boss for their boss’ dedication to them. This expectation was in no way made explicit by their boss. Instead, the workers were merely acting upon the universal norm of unspoken reciprocity: if you do something good for me, I will do something good for you in return.

Similarly, we found that if people don’t have a good relationship with their boss, they will do the opposite. They are more likely to engage in unethical behavior to support themselves, potentially at the expense of their boss.

The motivation was the same. Instead of reciprocating their good relationship with their boss, here people felt the need to get their own back on their bosses for having a bad relationship with them. They would be more willing to misrepresent the truth to make themselves look good or to withhold true but negative information about themselves to others in the organization.

Previous research tells us that this kind of behavior isn’t limited to people’s relationship with their immediate boss, but extends to the organization as a whole. Other researchers have found that employees who strongly identified with their organization were more likely to misrepresent the truth, withhold possibly damaging information about it, even if it meant acting against a customer’s interests. Again, this is all out of a sense of paying back a company that they cared deeply about.

This work also suggests that when employees identify strongly with the organization they work for they might become blinded to any wrongdoing or unethical behavior because of their positive view of their workplace.

Benefits to be had

Research shows there are huge benefits for both companies and individuals when employees have good relationships with their managers, including a positive effect on their physical and mental well-being. People who have strong relationships with their bosses also tend to perform better at work, spread goodwill further across the rest of the organization, and are more supportive of their peers – not to mention experiencing greater job satisfaction and developing a higher level of commitment to their company.

So bosses must put measures in place if they want to both cultivate strong bonds with the people who work for them and ensure that they act ethically and uphold strong company values. They must make it clear that lying, cheating, or doing anything else to protect their manager is neither allowed nor appreciated. Bosses must make it clear that they, nor anyone else in the company, sees this as a positive behavior that demonstrates loyalty.

And when bosses do observe this kind of behavior (even if it’s on a small scale), they must immediately bring it to the worker’s attention and perhaps even accompany it with a meaningful sanction in order to demonstrate the importance of not acting that way. Employees should also realize their potential to do the wrong thing in a misguided act of loyalty towards their boss – and avoid it.

Strong workplace relationships are always beneficial, particularly in the current climate of anxiety brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, even so, these relationships should be the basis of more ethical, not unethical, behavior.The Conversation


This article is republished from The Conversation by Jennifer Jordan, Professor of Leadership & Organizational Behavior, International Institute for Management Development (IMD) and Tim Vriend, Assistant Professor, Economics and Business, University of Groningen under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published October 15, 2020 — 07:36 UTC

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

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Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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