If you're looking for ways to create a stronger partnership with your workplace superiors, forget brown-nosing and don't worry about finding some elaborate gift. Instead, focus on these simple strategies:
1. Go the extra mile. Remember that your job description outlines the basic tasks and duties required to maintain employment. But doing the bare minimum is no way to impress your boss. Make it a habit to go over and beyond from time to time. Exceeding expectations is always a pleasant surprise, whether you're delivering a project ahead of schedule or volunteering to take on new responsibilities.
2. Anticipate needs. Don't wait to be told what to do. Engage your brain and be proactive. Look for predictable patterns in the workplace and take action early. Knowing you're on top of things helps make life easier and less stressful for your boss—he doesn't have to crack the whip to know you're getting the work done. When your boss asks you to put together a report, there's no better response than handing it over immediately and saying, "I thought you'd want that so I already did it." Bonus: You look like a mind reader.
3. Make improvements. The status quo doesn't always represent the best, most effective way of doing business. Put on your critical thinking cap and see if there are small improvements you can make that will have a big impact on your team or the organization as a whole. If you can tweak a process so it improves quality, reduces costs, or increases efficiency, your value will skyrocket—and you'll make your boss look good in the process.
4. Stay positive. Who needs another Negative Nancy around? No one. Most workplaces have too many as is. A positive, optimistic person can be like a ray of sunshine in a high-pressure environment. You don't have to go overboard here; even just a simple smile can help ease the tension. Soon, people will associate you with feeling good—and that's helpful for any relationship.
5. Bring solutions. Problems are unavoidable in most work environments and, yes, your boss is there to help you sort them out. But don't put all the work on his shoulders. When you encounter a challenge, take ownership of the situation and brainstorm solutions on your own before engaging your boss. If and when you do require his assistance, outline the options you've considered and be specific about what help you need from him. Remember, the easier you make life for your boss, the easier your life will be.
6. Get (a little) personal. The workplace doesn't have to be 100 percent professional 100 percent of the time. A little appropriate personal interaction reminds everyone that we're not just robots; we all have lives outside of work too. You and your boss probably have more in common than you even realize. Perhaps you share a favorite pastime or sports team. Maybe you have children in the same grade at school. Connecting on this kind of personal level strengthens the relationship and creates a deeper sense of authenticity. Just remember to commit important information to memory (like the name of his spouse and kids, for example) and keep the conversation light. Politics, religion, and sex remain off-limits.
7. Protect his time. Your boss is probably a pretty busy person. Don't waste his time and help prevent others from doing so as well. If you have a question, search for the answers on your own first. If you have the authority to make a decision, use your best judgment and make it. Don't pass things off to your boss if you have the ability to handle them. The more independent you can be—and the more you can prevent unproductive, unnecessary interruptions—the more useful you are.
8. Don't make him mediate. No boss likes to play mediator between his employees. If you're having an issue with a co-worker, do your best to handle it on your own. You're an adult, after all. Don't get your boss involved if you can help it. Little co-worker disputes can make all parties appear childish and petty, and baby sitting isn't a good use of your boss's time.
When you take the time to develop a strong relationship with your boss, your chances of getting that raise or landing the key role on that exciting new project go up exponentially. Your boss will see you as a prized asset to his team, and you'll enjoy all the rewards that go along with it.
Chrissy Scivicque, the founder of EatYourCareer.com, believes work can be a nourishing life experience. As a career coach, corporate trainer, and public speaker, she helps professionals of all levels unlock their true potential and discover long-lasting career fulfillment.