Money & Career

How to keep your boss happy -- and get ahead

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

How to keep your boss happy -- and get ahead

A boss's job is to give orders; yours is to take them. If you want a smooth and successful relationship with the Big Cheese – or at least one you can live with – you have to give the same kind of amazing service you expect from great professional waiters when you are the boss sitting at a table in an expensive restaurant.

Here are 21 ways to please the Cheese:

1. Don't keep the Big Cheese waiting. When the boss calls a meeting, be on time.

2. Don't show up unprepared. That's like those aggravating waiters who realize that they forgot to bring a pen just when you are ready to order.

3. Know the menu. Know what needs to be done in your department, and be prepared to give the boss the menu of what's cooking whenever she asks for it: "The Kirk campaign is in its final round of proofs, the Huber slogan still needs to be written, and the Sickle copy is still waiting for client approval."

4. Never tell the boss what to order! You may, however, influence the Big Cheese by making knowledgeable suggestions. "I suggest that we include that tasty data we found in this year's forecast for the purposes of comparison. Does that sound good to you?"

5. Engage in personal chitchat only if the boss invites it. Never view the boss's friendliness as an invitation to pull up a chair and start a gabfest. Always turn the conversation back to her: "Yes, I do take the train into the city. It's a lovely ride. Do you find it difficult to find parking for your Mercedes?" Hint: do not tell your boss anything you wouldn't tell a complete stranger.

6. Never make the boss feel that she is wasting your precious time. So you never say: "Are we done here? I really have a lot of other stuff to do. I do have a life, you know, and I'd like to...blah, blah." You have all the time in the world to wait on the Big Cheese, and you cannot rush her.

7. Patiently answer your boss's questions, no matter how ignorant and never make him feel ignorant. "Great question. Our company makes money by selling stuff." Keep the answer simple and direct and don't editorialize.

8. Never interrupt when the Big Cheese is ordering. Never say: "Do you really think that's a good idea?"

9. Don't keep reconfirming the boss's order. "Are you positively, absolutely sure it's OK with you if I go on that sales call?"

10. When the boss is finished ordering, ask only the questions you really need to know in order to serve her correctly. "How would you like me to prepare that document, in Excel or PowerPoint?"

11. Commend the Big Cheese for her decision with a snappy, not sappy, opinion. "Excellent choice."

12. Never tell your boss that you think she can't afford her order. Make sure the boss knows what things cost by providing price lists so that she is aware of how big her bill could get. But don't say: "My God! Do you know how much that will cost? You can't waste that much!" Just take the order.
 

Excerpted from The Big Sister's Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz. Copyright 2005 by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz. Excerpted with permission from Fireside Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.

 

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13. Never leave the boss's table until you are sure she is finished ordering. "Is there anything else I can get for you?"

14. Be flexible. If your boss decides to change his order, that's perfectly fine with you. So it's not: "Are you crazy? I just finished calling all of our vendors to tell them the deal is off. You can't change your mind now!" The correct answer is: "No problem, I'll get right on that." If the Big Cheese wants butter – even if it's not in your job description to fetch it – fetch it. It won't kill you to make the copies, keep a visitor busy, or man the switchboard for a morning.

15. Let the boss know what's cooking. Generally speaking, you want to let the boss know what you are up to, rather than having him wonder – especially when he's out of town. Pithy, slightly vague e-mails are great for this, as in: "I contacted Mr. Johnston, and he's happy to file the claim for us." Plus, updates send a subliminal message to the Big Cheese: "I'm on it. Stuff is getting done, and I'm working for you, O chief fondue."

16. Don't deliver bad news without simultaneously presenting a buffet of palatable solutions. "Unfortunately, the new back-end system won't be up and running until Tuesday. But we will be able to run the site on the old servers through the weekend, or we can use the Servers R Us cohosting serice instead. Which would you prefer?"

17. Drop inside information to your boss as subtly as a napkin. So it's "I heard from Joe in accounting that the CEO is thinking of clamping down on business-class travel," not "Well, I know what the CEO wants and no one can fly first class, not even youuuu!"

18. Accept praise gracefully. If the Big Cheese tells you how much he enjoyed what you dished up, don't say, "Oh, it was nothing," or "It could have been better." If he said it was good, it was good – validate his opinion, don't contradict it. Say: "Thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it."

19. Don't hover. You cannot stand over the boss while he's digesting. After you hand him a memo to review, don't be lurking around saying: "Do you like it? Huh? What do you think?" Just because he never says he likes it doesn't mean he doesn't think it's dee-lish.

20. Do NOT touch the boss. Jo once thought she was doing her boss a favour by straightening his tie before he went to a meeting. He slapped her hand and said, "Please don't ever touch me."

21. No matter how R-U-D-E, gruff, picky, or indecisive the boss may be, you are the professional waiter. Stand neutral and nonreactive, patiently waiting to serve.
 

Excerpted from The Big Sister's Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz. Copyright 2005 by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz. Excerpted with permission from Fireside Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.

 
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How to keep your boss happy -- and get ahead

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