Whether it is for a pay raise, a promotion, a great reference, or just a cubicle with a window, we all want to impress our boss at work. In tough economic times, we might just be trying to avoid being first in line for a pink slip. But honestly, do you really want to put in extra unpaid hours, potentially work weekends, and break your Facebook and Twitter habits?
Sure, it's a means to an end and everyone has to go above and beyond when needed. However, wouldn't it be nice to have a little help along the way?
1. Beat the Clock
Most bosses are pretty consistent on the time they get into your office. Take note. If yours always arrives at 7.50 - get there at 7.45 (even if your official start time is 8).
Bonus to you: Arriving earlier than the boss makes you look keen and eager. Plus, when you're skiving on Twitter or Facebook later in the day, you can justify it to yourself by those 15 extra minutes in the morning.
2. Say Good Morning!
However hungover, knackered or grumpy you're feeling first thing in the morning, plaster a great big smile on your face and say, Good Morning! to your boss.
Bonus to you: Two friendly words can go a long way in putting you in your boss's good books first thing in the day. And (if you're following the first tip), your boss will know you're in the office bright and early.
3. Volunteer Strategically
If you're in a meeting and someone asks for volunteers, be the first to put your hand up. That way, you'll look keen and engaged. This will be a tough one to swallow if your workload is already jammed but volunteering for the right, high visibility project can increase the perception of you.
Bonus to you: You'll get the task you want (i.e. the one with least effort but highest visibility) and not get lumbered with what the boss assigns you.
4. Be the Printer Guru
Even if it's nothing at all to do with your job description, learn where the spare ink/toner is kept and how to fit it. When there's a paper jam or error, get someone to show you what to do.
Bonus to you: When your boss is running around in a flap before a big meeting, you'll be the hero who fixes his very-important-report-won't-print crisis.
5. Say Thanks
Been given a pay raise, promotion or extra day's holiday - or even just some of your boss's valuable time and advice? Make sure you say thanks. If possible, thank him/her at the time, and follow up with a short note to express your appreciation.
Bonus to you: It takes ten minutes of your time and perhaps a couple of dollars to buy a Thank You card for your boss. If you feel strange with this one because a man giving a man a card is out of the norm, just send an email. In the end, it's the thought that really counts here. Guess who'll be first on his mind when the next round of pay-raises comes along?
6. Make Coffee
This will make most of the people in the office like you, not just your boss. However for you boss, occasionally take a minute to say I'm just making myself a coffee, can I get you one? (doing so multiple times per day will have the opposite effect as you're labeled as a brown-noser).
Bonus to you: For virtually zero effort, you give your boss the impression that you're a considerate, friendly employee who cares about him/her - bosses often feel unloved.
7. Use The Right Jargon
Pay extra-close attention to the buzzwords that your boss uses. Drop these into the things you say at meetings, and into your emails. This isn't a chance to play buzzword bingo - what you want to demonstrate is that you're on the same wavelength as your boss.
Bonus to you: Sometimes you can get away with something with just the right words. You're not filing your emails for lack of anything better to do - you're implementing new communication management protocols to further the client-company relationship.
8. Create Procedures
Closely related to using the right buzzwords is creating the right procedures - that is, any which get you out of hot water. If something goes pear-shaped at work, explain that it was due to a procedural error or a fault in the procedure. Then, try to correct the process.
Bonus to you: Explaining that the same mistake can't possibly happen again once I've changed the procedure makes your boss think you're on top of everything. Even when you so, so aren't.
9. Leave An Email Trail
If you're ever working from home, a cunning way to demonstrate how many hours you're (supposedly) putting in is to make sure that your boss is the recipient of, or copied in to, at least one of your emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Bonus to you: Your boss will think you've been hard at work between that first email at 7.30am and that last one at 9.00pm. You actually sent that first email in your jammies (and went straight back to bed), then took the afternoon off to catch a movie...
10. Fake Enthusiasm
Even if your job is as dry as dust, fake enthusiasm wherever possible. Plaster a big smile on your face and wave your hands around when enthusing to customers or colleagues about your company.
Bonus to you: Your boss will think you're truly (and possibly even a bit madly) dedicated to your job. You might find yourself enjoying it more by being enthusiastic, too.
How do you get into your boss's good books - without doing too much work? I'm sure you've got plenty more tips to add to my list, so let's hear them in the comments!