Worshiping your boss in a kiss-up/kick-down society

China is sometimes described as a “kiss-up/kick-down society”. Relationships are hierarchical whether you’re at work or not. People often shamelessly kiss-up to those above them (like bosses) while treating the people below them like their dirt. The disregard and lack of even basic consideration for those underneath is often shocking. There’s an idiom about being the “grandpa” and the “grandson” in a Chinese company, expressing how higher-ups have almost absolute power over their underlings. I’ve heard it said that the average Chinese office has more drama than Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

This month’s edition of Tianjin’s expat magazine has a great little anecdote that reflects this aspect of Chinese society. It’s from an article on how “to be a happy evergreen tree in working world” (obviously not written by a foreigner), where a senior manager gives advice to junior employees who complain that their bosses are “exploiting people and destroying work-life balance”:

Tip #3: Love your boss unconditionally
It doesn’t matter how you feel about your boss’s work ability or personality… In front of someone who has longer career life than you, all you need to do is to worship him and try to love him. Therefore you can feel what he feels; see what he sees from a higher level. Finally, you might be as successfully as he is. So why not?

One day I’m going to blog about our company’s annual banquet (年会), because it’s creepily like a church service for worshiping the boss. But I need this job, so that post will have to wait! :)

One thought on “Worshiping your boss in a kiss-up/kick-down society”

  1. Having taught Human Resource Mananagement in both the UK and China there’s no doubt, from my own experience, that China is a Kiss-up/Kick-down society and, especially, the workplace.

    Most of us who any expertise in management know that such an approach is ultimately bad for the business as the boss has no means of knowing what is actually going on and going wrong until it is, in most cases, too late. The best proof of this is Hong Kong where the three longest business are largely foreign owned and run, Jadine Mathison, Cathy Pacific and Hutchinson Whampoa and the Li Kia Shing Group. Li may be Chinese but he’s has realised managing companies the Chinese way with members of your own family taking over the running automatically, just leads to failure.

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