Everyone likes to be liked by their boss. When you and your higher-ups are on the same page, it can create a work harmony that makes everything better.
And happily, there are a few habits you can adopt to keep yourself in your boss’s good graces—from being on time to going above and beyond. Try your hand at these 10 behaviors and see if you don’t get a glowing performance review.
If you can, try to arrive 10 minutes before your boss does in the morning. If that’s tough because your boss is an early morning person, or your schedule doesn’t allow it, try staying 10 minutes later in the evening. “It may seem like a small thing, but it creates a great visual impression,” says Nancy Halpern, an executive coach with KNH Associates in New York City.
If you work remotely, that’s more challenging, but you can always schedule some of your emails to arrive before your boss arrives in the morning, or late at night, to indicate that their needs are always on your mind.
Your boss has a lot going on—projects and tasks and priorities aplenty. As an employee, it’s natural to want to seem productive, so you might say you’re going to do something. But the trick is to do it.
“As a manager it can be hard and time consuming to constantly be following up and questioning people,” says Drew Shannon, owner of business operations consulting firm Modest Operations in Los Angeles. “Say someone told me last week that they’re working on this project. It really hurts their credibility if that’s not actually getting done.”
Delivering on what you said does a lot for your office credibility and your boss’s peace of mind. “It improves my trust in them and it also shows that they can slog through hard things and take something across the finish line,” Shannon says.
Anticipating their needs
Many workers live in the moment, but you really boost your value when you can think about what’s to come. Although it requires you to build in time to step back from the day-to-day and reflect on the bigger picture, it’s a more strategic way of thinking.
“Bosses love it when team members are proactive and come up with scenario planning that builds in contingencies to cover all bases,” says Ben Renshaw, a leadership coach and author of Purpose: The Extraordinary Benefits of Focusing on What Matters Most. “It provides assurance and options to enable flexibility in response.”
Volunteering to help
Are you sitting in your cubicle twiddling your thumbs, or are you seeking out a way to be helpful?
“Always ask, ‘Is there anything I can do to make your life easier?’” Halpern says. “’Is there anything that you can’t get to that I can help you out with?’ Being the person who’s volunteering instead of the person waiting to be asked makes a big impression.”
It may sound obvious, but bosses love it when you consistently get your work done on time and to specifications—no excuses, no extensions.
“Your boss is either an entrepreneur, leader, or manager, and one of the benefits they provide to the organization is leveraging their skills and output through the work effort of their direct reports—you,” says Alex Robinson, HR manager at Team Building Hero. “When you do top notch work without delays, you help your boss fulfill this potential, and if they look good, you look good, too.”
Showing you’re a go-getter
In today’s workplace, the next steps aren’t always clear. But if you’re hesitant or afraid to ask for help or instructions, you’re not going to win any awards. Get out ahead of problems to show that you can tackle new situations.
“For me, this means noticing and recognizing ambiguity and plowing ahead anyway,” Shannon says. “Even if success isn’t guaranteed, you at least made forward progress.”
That action can take a lot of different forms, whether you’re sending an email to move something down the chain or testing a new website feature. “It’s about taking some sort of action in chaos, instead of assuming that someone else will step in,” Shannon says.
Make sure your boss knows what you’re working on and when they can expect to see it.
“It frees up my time, so I don’t need to be a micromanager,” Shannon says. Each week, Shannon likes for his team members to email him and let him know what they’re doing, what they’ve accomplished and what road blocks they’ve hit.
“I have to manage my team of four people and help them grow in their professional and personal development,” Shannon says. “The less I need to keep tabs on the intimate and intricate details of what my team is working on, the better.”
Matching their work style
Some bosses love checklists. Others love to be left alone. No matter what your boss prefers, they will like you better if you incorporate it into how you interact with them.
“I coached an individual who was reporting to a chief operating officer who was very aggressive and confrontational,” Renshaw says. “This individual was very collaborative and balanced, but when they were with the boss, they had to really match their style, so they came across as more spiky and edgy and to the point.”
Have a direct conversation to find out how to get the best out of your boss and what frustrates them. “This ensures that you are making no assumptions but working with the reality of how they are,” Renshaw says.
How invested are you in your work? Because your boss can tell.
“Basically, is that employee fully committed to helping the business grow and succeed, or do they just treat it like any other nine-to-five job?” says Matthew Ross, co-owner and COO of deals site RizKnows.com.
Ross and his partner recently promoted an employee who kept coming to them with new, innovative strategies to grow the company’s viewership. “Some of the ideas weren’t effective, while some did work to a certain degree,” Ross says. “However, this employee got promoted because they were obviously interested in the company’s success.”
Valuing what your boss values
Bosses love employees who take initiative to understand and prioritize the boss’s main concerns.
“That alignment is invaluable to a manager,” says Christopher Lee, career consultant and founder of PurposeRedeemed.com. “It sets the star employee—the one whom the boss trusts and confides in—apart from co-workers.”
Learn what your boss cares about, use their language, and put those goals first. “This doesn’t mean obeying blindly, especially when there are ethical or safety concerns,” Lee says. “But it does mean listening to what matters to the boss, reading between the lines at times and following through.”