Good Actors but Bad Apples: Deviant Consequences of Daily Impression Management at Work

Author:  Klotz AC,He W,Yam KC,Bolino MC,Wei Wu䣩
Publication:  Journal of Applied Psychology
Abstract:  Impression management (IM) refers to behaviors employees use to create and maintain desired images in the workplace. Prior studies have shown that the successful use of IM relates to a number of important outcomes for employees (e.g., higher performance evaluations), but this work has tended to compare IM usage between individuals, ignoring the fact that employees likely adjust their use of IM depending on the situations they face at work on a given day. In this paper, we argue that managing impressions on a daily basis can be draining, thereby leaving employees susceptible to the temptation to engage in subsequent harmful behaviors at work. To better understand the nature and within-person consequences of IM, we examine the daily use of two supervisor-focused IM tactics-ingratiation and self-promotion-among 75 professionals in China over the course of two work weeks. Our results indicate that there is significant within-person variance in employees' use of ingratiation and self-promotion aimed at supervisors. Moreover, our findings suggest that the use of ingratiation, but not self-promotion, depletes employees' self-control resources. In the case of ingratiation, this depletion is positively associated with employee deviance, and the indirect effect is stronger among employees with low political skill. Overall, this research contributes to our understanding of the dynamic, within-person nature of IM, the consequences of IM for employees, and the dark side of IM for organizations.

Keywordsimpression management; ingratiation; self-promotion; political skill