You may be wondering why you would spend any effort to make your boss look good. While creating your own great reputation is a basic ingredient in the recipe for career success, helping your boss look good is like “icing on the cake!” And really isn’t everything better with icing?!? Check out these tips to help your boss get promoted (so you can get his job!).
1. Anticipate! Anticipate! Anticipate! Know what your boss needs and likes and have it ready before he asks. Asking great questions will help you figure this out…perhaps before he even does. A great example may be taking the initiative to create a Pie Chart that highlights problems or accomplishments that he can then share with his boss. And as a bonus…when you anticipate needs, your boss loves you and wait for it…..less last minute rush requests make your life easier!
2. Have your boss’ back. Granted you don’t want to be the office gossip, but you can have a distinct impact on your boss’ success by giving him some insight. Always be on the look-out for information that can help him look good to his boss. Perhaps you hear that another team isn’t ready with their portion of a project that affects your team. Or maybe you know that one of your competitors is trying to steal several key employees. Your boss isn’t privy to the “word on the street” like you are and realistically there’s a lot of really valuable stuff that you and your co-workers know that your boss doesn’t hear. No one (including your boss) wants you in his office every day with this kind of stuff, but provide a few key morsels a year and you will be lunching in the executive dining room before you know it!
3. Always make sure your boss is prepared. While this may seem basic, nothing spoils your boss’ reputation more quickly than being known for never “being ready.” So finish assignments on time, or better yet early and anticipate. If your boss asks you to prepare something for a meeting with his boss, think of what other things could come up during the meeting and give him some info on those as well. For example: perhaps your boss is meeting to discuss the increase in shipping costs. Obviously he will need a chart comparing this year to last, but it goes deeper than that. Don’t just present him what he asked for, look at what you find and then dig around and ask yourself some questions. Have you shipped the same amount of product, are there other more affordable shipping options, are you charging less freight than your competitors. And then prep your boss with these thoughts as well.
4. Share praise. It’s a given that great bosses give you praise when you deserve it. But great employees do the same. If an effort has gone well and you feel that your boss’ leadership was key to the final effort, then spread the news. You don’t need to put a billboard in the parking lot, but small words in this regard definitely travel up. Keep in mind, no one likes a suck up. Save your praise for when you truly mean it. For more tips on this topic, check out “How to make boss look good without compromising your principles” by Jacquelyn Smith.
5. Keep disagreements off line. No boss (ok, well no good boss) wants you to agree with them all the time. But there is a right time and place for you point out that they are getting ready to walk off a cliff. Save your thoughts for private discussions between the two of you. In fact, you may find the most success by asking questions. For example: “Bob, I think your new idea is really exciting. How do you think it will impact x.” While certainly not a guarantee, this approach can help them figure it out on their own. When played properly, you eliminate the risk of making them mad and instead gain the reputation of asking great questions!
6. Dress for success. Like it or not people still form perceptions based on appearances and your boss’ colleagues will undoubtedly talk about what you are or aren’t wearing to work. While I know expressing individuality is great, you aren’t at work to make a fashion statement. You are there to advance yourself and your income. So save the overly casual and provocative clothes for weekends.
7. Project a positive image. A positive image goes far beyond what you wear to work. Your boss is measured by his team. So sure it’s important to “dress for success” but also realize that every email you and your co-workers send is a reflection on your boss. Your attitude (good or bad) also sends strong signals to your boss’ boss. And likely your boss will be evaluated on his ability to “lead.” If his team is known for constant bickering and infighting, it reflects poorly on him. Bottom line: if you wouldn’t do or say something in front of your boss, then it’s probably best to skip it.
8. Don't procrastinate. Running down to the wire on deadlines can not only cause your boss heartburn, but you also run the risk of making your boss look bad. Procrastination leaves little time for revisions your boss may request and virtually no time to react to problems that may occur. And while you may think you do your "best work under pressure," waiting until the final hour presents far more risk than potential gain. At the outset of new efforts, develop a timeline and stick to it to ensure your boss and YOU look good!
Remember his success affects your success and while it’s merely my personal opinion, I think everything IS better with icing!
What have you done to make your boss look good?