Winning your boss’s favour isn’t so hard to do.
And it’s not about kissing up by complimenting their new haircut or volunteering for every single new assignment.
Instead, it’s about figuring out what they want from you and being strategic in making them feel good.
To help you ingratiate yourself with your manager, we consulted both scientific research and expert opinion. Read on for the eight most compelling insights we learned.
1. Get to work early.
Research from the Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington suggests that employees who get into the office early are generally perceived by their managers as more conscientious and receive higher performance ratings than employees who arrive later.
And it doesn't matter if those who get in later stay later, too.
If you feel that you'd be more productive working from, say, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., consider explaining the situation to your manager and confronting their potential 'morning bias' head-on.
2. Ask for advice.
You might be wary of asking your boss anything -- whether it's how they got to this point in their career or which marketing strategy they think you should go with.
In one experiment, 170 university students worked on a series of computer tasks and were told they would be matched with a partner who would complete the same tasks (the partner was really a computer simulation). When they'd finished the tasks, the 'partner' either said, 'I hope it went well' or 'I hope it went well. Do you have any advice?'
As it turns out, students who'd been asked for advice rated their 'partner' more competent than those who hadn't been asked for advice.
The researchers explain that, when you ask for advice, you're validating the person's intelligence and experience, so they feel good about you in turn.
3. Manage up.
'Managing up' is a term for learning what your boss really cares about and making sure you deliver on that.
As Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of software company Likable Local, told Business Insider, 'It's about helping your manager look great to his or her manager. And ultimately by doing that you're going to position yourself better for success.'
Kerpen expects his team at Likeable Local to manage up to him. For example, he doesn't care that his head of marketing shows up late almost every day -- as long as she's on time Monday morning, delivering a great report at the company-wide meeting.
Kerpen recommends either asking your boss directly what's important to them or subtly trying to figure it out on your own.
4. Set stretch goals.
Leadership development consultancy Zenger/Folkman spent more than five years collecting upwards of 50,000 360-degree evaluations on more than 4,000 individual employees.
According to their findings, there's one behaviour that can make employees stand out (to their boss and the rest of their coworkers): setting stretch goals.
In other words, Zenger/Folkman execs write in The Harvard Business Review, top employees 'set -- and met -- stretch goals that went beyond what others thought were possible.'
Interestingly, most people didn't realise that high goals was so important, suggesting that setting stretch goals is meaningful because it's not expected.
5. Pay attention to detail.
If you consider yourself more of a big-picture person, you'd best start attending to the small stuff, too.
Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, wrote in a LinkedIn post that at his company, 'even what seems like a small technical glitch can end up affecting a lot of clients in a short period of time. An employee who can be trusted to catch such small errors truly begins to stand out among the crowd.'
6. Say 'thanks.'
Expressing gratitude for your boss's feedback -- even if it's negative -- can make them feel warmer toward you, according to a 2011 study from the University of Southern California.
In one experiment, about 200 undergrads were told that they had been assigned a partner and were supposed to review a draft of instructions the partner had written about how to assemble parts of equipment. (In reality, there was no partner and the instructions had been written by the experimenter.)
Some participants were told they were the supervisor in this relationship; others were told they were the subordinate. In addition, all participants took a pretend test of their abilities and some were told they weren't that competent.
When the experimenter returned notes from the 'partners,' some said, 'I just wanted to let you know that I received your feedback on my draft.' Others said the same thing, along with, 'Thank you so much! I am really grateful.'
As it turns out, participants in the supervisor position who'd been told they weren't that competent were nicer when their partners were grateful.
When their partners weren't grateful, the supervisors whose competence had been threatened were more likely to respond by denigrating those partners, saying they were unintelligent, incapable, and incompetent. You might say gratitude prevented the threatened supervisors from acting like jerks.
7. Take a vacation.
According to analysis by Oxford Economics for Project: Time Off, workers who take all their vacation time are 6.5% more likely to get a promotion or a raise than those who leave over at least 11 days of paid vacation time.
Of course, that doesn't mean taking a vacation directly causes you to get a promotion -- it could be the case that better workers feel they're more entitled to a vacation.
But as Shawn Achor, author and CEO of GoodThink, Inc., writes in The Harvard Business Review, these findings do suggest that working yourself to death doesn't necessarily lead to success.
'The extra face time doesn't help you,' Katie Denis, senior director of Project: Time Off,told The Boston Globe. 'There's something to this 'refreshed thinking,' too. Vacations allow you to be more creative.''
It's hard to imagine that your boss wouldn't appreciate your increased creativity post-break.
8. Speak up.
Got an opinion? Don't hide it from your coworkers.
Jenna Lyons, president and executive creative director of J. Crew Group Inc., told Motto that she advises people to share their perspectives: 'I find it impossible to understand where a person stands if they don't join the conversation.'
Don't be afraid of looking stupid, either. As Lyons said, you should 'never be afraid to pitch an idea; we all have good ones, and we all have bad ones.'
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