I want to be good at what I do, and I bet you do, too. Though the motivation may differ—a promotion, a raise, the Employee of the Month award, or to simply feel good about yourself—there’s no denying that the desire to succeed is a powerful one.
But in order to be successful, there are certain people we must work harmoniously with—the most important one being your boss. When it comes to your career, your manager plays a key role in your growth and achievements. And let’s face it—if we don’t get along with said boss, the role she begins to play is “roadblock.”
And while there is, unfortunately, no secret formula to making your supervisor think you’re great—and thus eliminating that barrier—below are some things you can do in every job that should earn you a big thumbs up.
1. Admit When You Make a Mistake
No one is perfect—slip-ups happen from time to time, and that’s OK. Acknowledging you messed up will show accountability, help you learn, and prevent your boss from being blindsided when the error surfaces on its own (which it will).
2. Proofread Your Emails
Your performance is a direct representation of your manager. If you’re shooting off shoddy emails, it can reflect badly on her and your team. Taking those extra seconds to read your message may also help you from sending a response laced with sass and frustration.
3. Meet Your Deadlines
Your manager, and likely others, are relying on you to finish your tasks in a timely manner. Getting things done by the time you’re supposed to will make managing you a breeze. And let’s be real—you know you loathe the people who constantly keep you waiting (in work and in life), so don’t be one of them.
4. Let Your Boss Know ASAP if You’re Going to Miss a Deadline
We already established you aren’t perfect (see number one), so we get it—sometimes a deadline can’t be met. No matter who the finger of blame should be pointed at, your manager needs a heads up so she can plan accordingly.
5. Ask Questions When You Have Them
You can’t know it all—no one can (except maybe someone as successful as Adele). If you are unsure of something, it’s better to ask someone than to do something incorrectly or sit there and avoid it all day.
6. But, Do Try to Figure it Out Before You Reach Out for Help
Showing initiative and problem-solving skills are characteristics that will cause every manager to breathe a sigh of relief. But don’t spend forever doing it—know when it’s time to throw in the towel. My golden rule? If you spend more than 30 minutes trying to find the answer, raise your white flag and let someone come to your rescue.
7. Save Any Grievances You Have for One-on-one Meetings
You most likely aren’t going to agree with everything your boss says and does (if you do, lucky you). But instead of calling her out in front of the whole team, address her in private. No one likes to be thrown under the bus, especially in front of the people they manage. And when you do meet with her, make sure you’re going about your feedback correctly.
8. Bring Solutions, Not Problems
If you have a problem, simply complaining about it is not going to help change it. So when you address your manager in that one-on-one meeting, come to the table with suggestions, or at least the willingness to brainstorm some with her.
9. Acknowledge When You’re at Capacity
While it’s tempting to say “Yes!” to everything in an effort to prove you’re a hard-working superstar, everyone has a threshold. Once you cross it, the quality of your work (and your work-life balance) will start to diminish. And that doesn’t benefit anybody.
10. Be a Team Player
Neither your team nor your company can reach their full potential if you aren’t playing your part. And that limits your opportunity for success, too. The car can’t run if one of the wheels is stuck in the mud. Don’t be that wheel.
11. Take Work Off His Plate
Managing you and your teammates isn’t your boss’ only job. He has his own tasks, projects, and career goals, too. There are likely some items on his to-do list that you can do for him. Take a look at your workload, and if it isn’t too heavy, offer to help make his list a little shorter.
12. Treat Her Like a Person
What’s that you say? Your boss is human, too? Yep! And though the majority of your interactions involve her ensuring you are on task and have everything you need, it’s not her only concern in life. (Believe it or not, she probably has a guilty pleasure TV show she binge watches on the weekends, too. Scandal, anyone?) Make a note of personal things she mentions—her dog’s name, a book she’s currently reading—and ask about them when the time is right.
13. Take Initiative to Further Your Learning
Just because you’re out of school doesn’t mean your education has to end. Show you want to better yourself by signing up for a class, attending a workshop, or watching YouTube videos about cool Excel tricks. Want to hit the ball out of the park? Take it one step further and share what you learn with your team.
14. Offer to Mentor or Train a New Team Member
Teaching somebody the ins and outs of a position is tough work. It can even be a job in itself. So when your supervisor hires a new team member, offer to get him or her up to speed. This will allow her to continue focusing on the big picture and dedicating enough time to supervise the whole team.
15. Learn From Your Mistakes
There aren’t many things more frustrating than having to tell someone something over and over again. When you make a mistake, take the appropriate steps to prevent yourself from making that same blunder in the future. Write it down, add a task to your process, put a reminder in your calendar—whatever it takes, learning from your slip-ups is a true sign of growth (and also keeps your boss from pulling her hair out).
16. Know When to Stop Talking
Your voice is important and it should be heard. After all, you’re a valuable part of the team. But that doesn’t mean you should be the team chatterbox. Allow others to speak up, too, and make sure you’re not just speaking because you like the sound of your voice.
17. Show Your Appreciation
Yes, managing you is part of his job. And yes, his paycheck probably benefits because of it. But he is still taking time out of his busy schedule to ensure you have what you need and to provide support when you need it. When he does something you appreciate, say thank you and tell him how he helped you. Better yet? Sing his praises and write a recommendation on LinkedIn.
Every supervisor has different management styles, and your boss may value some qualities in his or her employees over others. This will change with each job you have, but if you try to do (at least most of) the things above, you’ll receive your boss’ seal of approval.
And while this seal may not be obvious (I mean, you aren’t going to get a trophy for being a good employee), it will show in the ways that count—more responsibility, a positive performance review, opportunities to manage others, and occasionally that big promotion.
TopicsBosses , Workplace Relationships , Syndication , Getting Ahead , Career Advice , Work Relationships
Abby is a writer, career coach, and health educator living in Portland, Maine. When she’s not trying to make the world a happier and healthier place, you can find her cuddling with her cats, hunting down the city's best coffee and grilled cheese, or dipping her toes in the Atlantic. Say hi on Twitter .More from this Author