Fortunately, keep your boss happy and helpful isn’t all that difficult, if you follow these simple rules:
1. Think of your boss as a resource.
Rather than an overseer (or worse, a parent), consider your boss a service provider who helps you get your job done. Your boss secures the resources you need, makes decisions in your favor, works your interdepartmental issues, and secures money to get you a raise.
2. Keep your promises.
Your boss wants to trust you to get your job done, so he or she isn’t left in the lurch. Therefore, when you accept an assignment, follow through fanatically. Never over-commit and always deliver. As Yoda said: “Do or do not. There is no ‘try’.”
3. No surprises, ever.
Even if you’re afraid some bad news might upset your boss, don’t wait until the last minute to deliver it. This is especially true if your boss tends to “shoot the messenger.” Frequent updates are your best and only defense.
4. Take your job seriously.
Your boss doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but appreciates it when it’s obvious that truly care about what you do. This doesn’t mean you should take yourself too seriously, though. Be serious about your job but be willing to laugh at your own foibles.
5. Advise but then obey.
When you see your boss about to make a foolish decision, suggest a better alternative. However, once your boss has made that decision, stop second-guessing and do your best to implement it— regardless of whether you agree.
6. Provide solutions not complaints.
Nothing irritates a boss more than being forced to listen to you kvetch about things that either you’re not willing to change or are outside your boss’s ability to change. Don’t bring up a problem unless you have a solution in mind.