If you are a fan of the TV show Friends, you will remember the episode where Rachel is missing out at work because she is a NON-SMOKER. I have never given much though about the politics of smoking at the office until last year. Never in a million years would I suspect that smokers would have an advantage over me in the workplace.
Can smoking with the boss get you that promotion?
I understand the importance of social skills at work. In order to get ahead you have to be able to connect with people at work on different levels. It is human nature. You need to be able to talk to colleagues about subjects unrelated to work. It also helps when dealing with clients. People feel more connected to you and that is a positive thing. However I feel this is a bit too far. It frustrates me though that it is all too true in the work place. How do I know? It happened to me in the work place in a previous job. It was even worse than what happened to Rachel Green in Friends.
The reason my situation was worse was due to the intention of my former bosses. Rachel’s manager in this clip never intentionally left Rachel out of decisions or benefits, circumstances lead that way.
In a performance review in job I was in, I was given some feedback. I like getting feedback as it gives me something to work on. It is not always easy to hear but useful in order to develop at work.
“You should try and catch the boss while they go out for a smoke. It is the best way to get in with them and get decisions from him”
My mouth hit the floor when I heard this. On one hand my manager was being truthful and giving me real advice on how to get things done but I was disgusted that this was being endorsed. Should my manger not be trying to work in a more fair way? Is it not unprofessional that in order to get work done I HAVE to accompany my boss for a smoke! I really disagree with this and wish it didn’t happen. Unfortunately it is a reality of the workplace. If you boss smokes it presents a opportunity for other smokers to bond with them. Leaving non-smokers at a disadvantage.
Not all managers that smoke are like this but I feel it happens more often than not.
I didn’t act on this advice and I suffered for it. In my last company, I do not think it was any coincidence that the smokers were the ones that all got promoted and none of the non-smokers did. In my following company after that I made an effort every once and a while to join the smokers for “fresh air”. And you know what? I was promoted in that company! Go figure.
Do you have smokers in your office? Do they often go out together? Are they discussing work? Do you ever join them? You might want to think about joining them now and then. You just never know!