No matter how you earn a living, one occupational skill you would do well to cultivate is the knack for getting along with the boss; that dispenser of raises and promotions is probably the key person in your working life. In most facilities, it's your boss’s opinion of you that determines your future in the company. A staff person in constant conflict with his/her supervisor, even if he or she is a virtuoso performer on the job can find his/her prospects considerably dimmed. Short of marrying his or her daughter, what can you do to get into the boss’s good graces and stay there? Fortunately, most bosses aren't monsters, so they respond to efforts to improve relationships with their staff members.
Here are some suggestions for making yourself more valuable to the man or woman you work for, based upon the observations of managers and job counselors.
Help him or her to do his/her job. You can accomplish this by doing your job as best you can - an important piece of advice. It is probably the most frequently forgotten; keep in mind how your job ties in with your boss's. He or she is responsible for seeing that a certain set of tasks is accomplished, be it writing insurance policies, directives, memorandums, health care policies, assembling machine parts or selling dresses. Your job is to tend to some detail of his or her task. The better you hold up your end, the easier his or her job is, which is bound to make him or her look more kindly on you and your endeavors.
Get to know his/her standards. Your performance is judged by him/her. By noting your boss's reactions to different ways things are done, you learn what is especially important to him or her. For example, a secretary who prides herself on her shorthand and typing speed may be surprised to find herself passed up for a promotion if she ignores her boss's frequent complaints about her spelling errors and likewise a supervisor of nursing or nursing assistant whose supervisors have to remind him/her to turn reports in on time, may not be considered for promotion or for a new job within the facility.
If you were a boss, would you promote someone who has to be hounded again and again about the same old mistakes or shortcomings?
Keep him or her informed. When the boss gives you an assignment, especially a long-term one, he/she will want to be kept informed about how you're coming along. You can keep him/her up-to-date with short memos now and then, and by mentioning your progress during informal conversations with him or her. If it's a complicated report, better put it in writing. It is especially important if you work with relatively little supervision to let your supervisors know, periodically, what you're doing. Tell him/her about any ideas you may get for streamlining the way you do your job, (not the way he/she does his or hers) only if you've carefully thought them through and can explain them clearly.
Don't take too much of his/her time. Spare the boss the details of your weekend camping trip unless he or she expresses a definite interest. There is a time and place for swapping stories, and if your boss wants to pass some time that way, he or she will take the initiative. Be careful also about bending his/her ear every time a minor problem comes up within the facility or office. True, he or she is there to help solve problems, but you can often find the answers without bothering him/her. You want the boss to notice you for the problems you solve, not the ones you toss in his/her lap.
Be reliable. Get to work on time, finish your assignments when you are supposed to, show the boss that when he or she needs something done in hurry, you are the one who will give it that extra effort needed. If he/she knows he/she can depend on you, he/she will, and that's a real feather in your cap.
Be enthusiastic about your work. One of the most difficult problems the boss faces is motivating a worker who sees his or her job as little more than a necessary evil in the pursuit of a paycheck. Bosses know they can't teach enthusiasm, and they can't buy it no matter how high the wage is, but they place much value on it.
If your enthusiasm is genuine, it will show. Do you take pride in your work? Are you willing to come early and stay late when necessary? Are you optimistic about the future of the company you work for? Do you tackle assignments cheerfully, without trying to think up reasons why they just can't be done? If your answers to these questions are completely negative, maybe you are in the wrong job.
Learn to take criticism. Inability to accept constructive criticism or advice from supervisors and co-workers alike is a serious handicap. If you do a slow burn every time the boss points out your mistakes, he/she is bound to feel uncomfortable about it, and is likely to resent your attitude. After all, guiding and correcting your work is part of his/her job. Listen to what he or she tells you, apply his/her suggestions to what you are doing. Temperamental workers, no matter how brilliant, are something most bosses would rather do without.
Don't play office politics. Few things can destroy morale faster than the presence of gossipers and other thoughtless workers who start or pass along uncomplimentary and embarrassing stories about fellow workers. Ignore rumors and tend to your business. Don't take sides in disputes between other workers, or you may end up a part of the gossip yourself. Resist the temptation to grumble about minor inconveniences caused by management decisions; if you have a legitimate complaint take it to your boss privately. He or she will appreciate hearing it from you before he/she hears it via the grapevine.
Don’t compete with the boss. Everybody wants to get ahead on the job, of course, but if you aim to do it by demonstrating to everybody else that you know more about the business than your boss does, watch out. In the first place, you probably don't, and in the second place, you'll find that no one, including your boss's boss, appreciates a worker who constantly goes over his/her supervisor's head or tries to show him or her up. If you buck your boss at every turn, downgrade his confidence and generally make his/her life miserable, be prepared to lose when the showdown comes.
Remember bosses are human too. Chances are your boss isn’t the world’s foremost authority in his or her field, so don't expect him or her to be. He/she will make mistakes occasionally. He/she may be abrupt or grouchy from time to time just as you are, and when he/she really applies the heat, it's often because his/her boss or some other authority is putting the heat or pressure on him or her.
You'll probably never find the perfect boss, just as he or she will never find the perfect employee, but in general, you've probably got the nearest perfect boss you've ever had in your life, and he/she undoubtedly has the most perfect employee as well. Your ability to get along with the person you report to can enhance your prospects at every step on the job ladder.
Kenneth E. Strong, Jr. , MS, is President and founder of Lighthouse CCUNIV Publication, Ltd. , http://www.ccunivpub.com He is the founder of Lighthouse Continuing Care University http://www.ccuniv.org a web based community devoted to educating, supporting and developing, supervisors, managers, line staff and trustees of Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Skilled Nursing Facilities and CCUNIV Radio.com’s “You’re Making A Difference Program. ” http://www.ccunivradio.com He publishes a monthly newsletter “How To Find A Great Nursing Home” http://greatnursinghomestrategies.com