Written by Catherine Adenle
Well, let’s think about bosses for a second, we can’t live with them, and we can’t live without them. Either we like it or not, most of us must deal with a boss at one point or the other and unless you are your own boss. To be honest, the way we deal with them if we have them not just affect our career advancement, recognition at work and our pay, but also our work life balance and overall well.
Since the economy has been in recession, the current state of things is causing many people to really rethink how they view their job security. Those jobs for life we hear our parents and grandparents speak about, are unfortunately, no more in existent as they used to be before. For us all, our best bet is to make ourselves one of the employees that stand out from the others in terms of the willingness to work, enthusiasm, innovate, our behaviour, skills and dedication to our organisation. Below are a few suggestions to keep your boss happy and think very highly of you. And ‘’No’’, I’m not talking about sucking up to your boss or brown-nosing your boss. Rather, these tips are legitimate, positive, inspiring and necessary guidelines to help you build a great relationship with your boss. Remember, bosses don’t want to lay off staff with whom they have a genuine work friendship.
Bosses are people too, if they appreciate your measurable contributions to your department or company, trust you, like you and in a way depend on your skills, abilities and loyalty, they will like you, recommend you as necessary and wouldn’t want to lose you. These tips will guide you to stand out naturally. In any case, if you have proper work ethics, you will impress your boss. However, you do need to be consistent with how you make use of these tips. There are no results without hard work. Yet, each of the tips discussed below is not difficult to practice.
1. What Are Your Boss’s Objectives? Make it Your Business to Know
Do you know your boss’s objectives? If your answer is no, then you have to find out right away. Why? This is the guide that you need to get noticed by your boss as this will allow you to focus on what is truly relevant and get your skills noticed. Concern yourself with your boss’s objectives so that you can make him succeed. By doing this, both of you will succeed together. His objectives are directly or indirectly tied, or traceable, to the objectives of the company and will surely cascade down to yours. Try to see the bigger picture. You need to know what the boss expects of you. It is imperative that you fully understand how your job helps your boss. Make sure that what you’re doing not only meets your own job description but helps the boss achieve his or her own objectives too. Use his objectives as a guide, formulate simple solutions to complicated problems and demonstrate measurable results. If you are not in a position to do this, do simple things to help with achieving his objectives, every little help counts.
2. Never wait to be told what to do
Take initiatives, be cleverly aggressive and find out what your boss needed done rather than sit back and wait for assignments. A major strategy for getting your boss to respect you is for you never to wait around to be told or guided on what to do. Think of making measurable improvements to tasks, processes and procedures. Are there better ways of doing things? Think of these ways, document them, do a quick SWOT analysis of your ideas and then inform your boss of your best idea. Whatever your idea is, you need your boss’s approval to get it realised. Explain to your boss your plans and why they represent a good business decision. Know what to do. Take on the responsibility, even when you’re not asked. Position yourself as the staff your organisation can’t do without. Position yourself as the go-to person in your dept, team or organisation who knows the product of the company, the history, its customers, and business. Bring ideas to the table; if you are in the position to help the company and the various departments within it function better, do so by all means. Be sure to know the goals and the thinking behind your ideas. Also have a good idea of the best way and the resources needed to implement your ideas.
3. Keep a positive attitude
This goes without saying; there is power and pay back in being positive! It doesn’t take much effort to be kind and it is harmless to be positive. You can start by doing a small favour for busy colleagues; the plan is to plant small, relevant seeds of kindness and positivity around your workplace. Your positive attitude costs nothing. Positivity in the way you behave, contribute to initiatives and undertake your daily work should speak for itself. As a positive staff, working with someone like you will make tasks and relationships seem much less difficult, and a positive morale usually does great things for teamwork, bosses and allow for prosperity in the business. Being one of the few that can find the positive in every situation could help single you out as a talented employee and command your boss’s respect in that you are one of the ones to always remember when it is time for promotion.
4. Put in real effort
Those that do more than what is required or needed generally stand a better chance of being noticed by their bosses. Go the extra mile. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is the ‘extra’. This fact applies everywhere. Real effort will usually reward you because the boss knows you put in the extra time work and really care about your job. It is a known fact that bosses can usually tell when a job has been done with an above-average dedication.
5. Learn new skills and be in the forefront of innovation
Aim to develop more skills. Be like a dry sponge at work, try to soak up work related knowledge. There are tons of resources on the web, take an advantage of them. Wasting your time on meaningless gossip during lunch time or by the water cooler will only get you into trouble. Why not spend your free time on developing yourself or finding a better way of doing things. Finding new ways to improve processes and having more general knowledge helps make work run more smoothly. The general knowledge of anything related to your company helps your boss make informed and wise choices. Having the knowledge on hand also makes you a valuable resource for your boss. Resolving issues before they become problems or before any crisis is a great skill to have and it will save your boss the trouble of sorting out any mess later.
6. Be a ‘low maintenance’ staff
In short, don’t be the “problematic one,” in your team. Do not be the one the boss always has to keep an eye on, check up or follow-up on. Instead, try to be the reliable and capable one that the boss can depend on. It might not be apparent immediately, but a good boss will surely recognise and appreciate that attribute. Nevertheless, you are not looking to be the perfect one with an invisible halo etched on top your head. No doubt, you are probably going to make a mistake or two, or mistakenly create a problem at least once or twice. However, when that happens, and you go to your boss as you should, try not to just report the problem, but go along with a solution to solve the problem. Think of some solutions and be prepared to discuss this with your boss and seek his guidance and approval to implement the solution.
7. Always recognise your boss in your successes
Anytime you receive an award or whenever your successes are celebrated at work, be sure to make a point of recognising your boss as one of the people who made it possible. It’s easy to do this if your boss really did help you. What if you have a difficult boss? Well, my answer to this is that even a bad boss can provide good insights or recommend you. So, in the least, try to just mention him or thank him for helping you to keep things in perspective. However, don’t sugar coat things, but do try to say something about your boss’s help.
8. Never ever upstage your boss
No matter how successful or relevant your contributions are at work, never get too pompous or carried away to the point of upstaging your boss. This can seriously do damage to your career or limit your career upgrade. Therefore, be very careful about correcting your boss in public. However, if your boss mistakenly thinks he made a mistake but really didn’t, it is satisfactory to correct him in public. For instance if he quotes a figure while at a meeting, then hesitates, stops and says, “Sorry, I may have made a mistake,” and you know the boss was originally correct, it’s fine at that point to say, “No, you are actually right.”
9. Help to Make Your Boss Look Good, be ever-present to help him
Although this is a good tip, don’t ever do this to your own detriment. Do not take the blame for things that go wrong due to his mistake. Do things like helping him to do background preparation for a presentation he has to give. Prepare any apt information needed for a meeting he is chairing or attending before hand to ensure that he has a productive meeting. Trust me, your boss will appreciate any extra help. Even if your help is not required, your boss would at least know you are willing to assist. This is one of the major and important ways to make your boss appreciate you.
10. Network, Network, Network
It is easy to just do the busy work and not the work that adds value or connect you to other departments or that are inter-departmental. Try to volunteer to take the tasks no one else wants to take on. This will make your boss realise your willingness to work with others and your ability to network and will most likely appreciate it. Getting to know and respect managers in other departments is a good idea so that you have someone to speak for you other than just your boss. Positive feedback will be given to your boss so it is important that you make an effort to do a good job within or outside your department. If your boss should move on, then someone else or other managers in management knows the quality of the work that you do.
11. Share Your Knowledge
If you know how to solve a problem that anyone is dealing with in your workplace, be sure to share your knowledge with them. This will reduce the headache that your boss needs to sort this out later. Helping jobs run smoothly ultimately makes your department run more efficiently, and in turn benefits the profits of the entire company. A department that is shown to be efficient will be known and the boss of such department will be seen as efficient. A boss who is efficient due to your knowledge and help will always think highly of you as a staff.
12. Be Watchful and Stay Out Of Trouble
Do not be oblivious to any situation in the office, be informed of what is going on and stick to the facts. Try not to get involved in office politics. Do not gossip or speak bad about other colleagues in your team or otherwise. Not only will you suffer for your own words, it will get to your boss and may affect him too. Create and promote good working relationships across departments and stay away from useless nattering.
13. Always Ask When You Do Not Know
You cannot possibly be “Mr. or Mrs. Know It All”. Never ever assume things. Do not assume how critical things are done or need to be done. When you don’t know, always ask. You probably think, wouldn’t that make me look bad? Well, which one is worst? Making an irreparable mistake or ensuring you don’t make one that you will spend an awful long time correcting. There is no harm in ensuring that you are on the right track. Find a “go to” person in your company, and ask them questions if you don’t want to ask your boss directly.
14. Don’t surprise your boss
Don’t let your boss be blindsided by anything unprofessional that emanated from you in any way. In other words, confess if you created a problem or made a ghastly mistake. It’s better that bad news about you should come from you and not from a colleague, another departmental heads, a customer, or from your boss’s boss. Be sure to brief your boss and be truthful; admit to your mistakes and think of how to correct or reverse the problem. The same advice applies to good news as well. Let your boss be the first to know about your successes. Otherwise, your boss might give the impression of being unaware of them when he is offered the congratulations.
15. How Does Your Boss Work?
Ask relevant colleagues, those closest to him that knows your boss more than you do or that have worked with your boss in the past to pick up cues of how your boss prefers to work. Learn how he likes things done. Learn from other’s mistakes when they worked with your boss. By doing this, you will avoid any sticky situations that will put you in his ‘‘not quite there yet’’ book.
Note that your boss is not there to be your best friend, or a pal. If you’re lucky, your boss will be nurturing, competent, a coach who is interested in your advancement and confident in your abilities. In a way, a good boss also depends on you. The reward for good work that will also boost your boss’s position and ability will advance your career. Jane Boucher, the author of How To Love The Job You Hate: Job Satisfaction for the 21st Century says “The relationship with your boss is a partnership, and it takes an effort to build the relationship and nurture it. You have to communicate well, avoid confrontations and resolve differences in a positive way.”
Do you have any other tips to add? Let’s hear from you.