How to Be the Boss’s Pet

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Growing up, no one wanted to be the teacher’s pet. Not only were you subjected to relentless teasing from your friends, being the “favorite” typically included extra work such as passing out papers, delivering notes to the office, or wiping down the whiteboards. What kid wants to do anything that could infringe on her recess time? As adults we recognize there are actually quite a few perks to being the “favorite” – especially in the workplace.

All professionals strive to establish a positive reputation around the office, especially with the boss. Being known as “reliable, efficient, or innovative” can result in opportunities to be a part of more challenging projects or an increase in compensation or title. And don’t forget your current boss may be the key to your next opportunity. She is the one who will speak highly of you, share your professional skills, or make calls on your behalf.  Unfortunately, building that glowing reputation among your peers and superiors can bring with it a few tricky obstacles to navigate. There’s a fine line between a dedicated employee looking to advance and a brown-noser who hogs projects and takes all the credit. Also, many of your co-workers might not be impressed by your willingness to go above and beyond. Competition can be fierce when the reward is a promotion or raise. Your efforts to make a name for yourself can be interpreted as an unwillingness to be part of a team.

How can a professional build a strong reputation in the office, allowing her to receive the accolades she’s earned without alienating herself from the rest of the team?

6 ways to be the Boss’s Pet (Without Being a Kiss-Up and Annoying Your Co-workers)

1. Get to know you boss’s communication style Management is busy juggling their workload, striving to meet expectations from hire ups, and managing YOU. They are looking to their employees to help them accomplish those goals successfully and efficiently. Some will send brief (sometimes seemingly curt) emails with a list of tasks for you to accomplish- no fanfare, perhaps not even a greeting. Other bosses may prefer to meet face to face, allowing for discussion, alternate ideas, and the chance to ask and answer questions. It is your job as the employee to tackle the tasks outlined, regardless of your preferred communication style.

2. Be a consistent (and positive) presence The boss remembers employees they see and interact with most often. So why not be the first face she sees in the morning and the last face she sees in the evening? Be a reliable team player. Give ample warning for time off and make an effort to complete tasks before you leave, rather than playing catch up when you return.

3. Take credit AND responsibility There will be times when it is up to you to manage your own growth rather than waiting for someone else to recognize your accomplishments. Making your successful contributions known is not a bad thing. However, you must be equally quick to take responsibility for things that didn’t work. Identifying where you could have been more successful or how you would approach this type of situation differently next time shows your boss that you are open to change and recognize you have room to grow.

4. Don’t expect a trophy for showing up Employee incentive programs are designed to reward employees for going above and beyond the expectations. They can be an excellent motivator to give that little something “extra.” They are not designed to reward staff members for doing the job they were hired to do. Meeting expectation is not an accomplishment- it’s your job. Seeking recognition for doing what is expected will not ingratiate you with the boss.

5. Share solutions, not problems No job is perfect and you will inevitably run into problems with staff, expectations, or the work itself. Ideally, your boss has created a culture which supports open communication. However, that is not a free pass to complain every time you don’t like something. When you have a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed because it is impeding your ability to do your job approach your boss with both the problem and a solution you think might work. “The managers never listen to me” should sound a little more like “I need to communicate at the beginning of the month with each of the managers. In order to ensure that happens more consistently, I would like to institute a policy that…” Problem and solution.

6. Stay out of the drama Sometimes an office can seem a lot like high school with paychecks. Drama, gossip, and toxic personalities roam the halls. In all the ways that you can, try to be a positive influence or even a mediator when problems arise. But don’t get sucked into the drama. If you recognize a certain person seems to be in the center of each and every problem, chances are your boss sees it too. Most importantly, do not get involved in situations that are not your business or have no impact on your work environment. Not your circus, not your monkeys.

Your boss can be your biggest professional ally both currently and in the future. In the best situations, he or she becomes your advocate throughout your professional life helping you find jobs or making glowing recommendations about you when asked. That relationship is largely influenced by you.  Strive to build a reputation as a positive influence on your environment, someone with exceptional skills and a willingness to grow, and someone who empowers his boss.  And occasionally, leaving an apple on his desk couldn’t hurt either.

Do you think your boss likes or appreciates YOU?

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