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How to Make Your Boss Look Good (Without Being a Suck-Up)

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Making your boss look good—even though you may hate the idea of doing it—is a really good idea.

Bosses, most of the time, really aren’t as bad as we want to think they are. Making an effort to give yours a boost when you can isn’t too difficult, and it could be one of the best decisions you make at the office.

Among the many benefits of making your boss look good at work is that she’ll think of you in a positive way, which can be highly beneficial at raise and promotion time. But while you’re doing your best to make your boss look good, you also need to avoid being a suck-up. You don’t want a reputation that will make your colleagues distrust you—the whole idea backfires at that point. With that in mind, here are five ways you can work to make your boss look good (without becoming a total suck-up):

Be An Excellent Employee

First, and most simply, if you want to make your boss look good, you have to be an excellent employee. This seems obvious, but it’s such a good and easy way to boost your boss that it needs to be mentioned. If you get your work done and meet your goals in a timely fashion, this helps your boss be prepared for meetings and presentations with other leaders in the organization. It also makes your department look good, reflecting directly on your boss and how well she’s doing her job.

Anticipate Your Boss’s Needs

A great way to become an invaluable employee is to anticipate your boss’s needs. And while you’re becoming invaluable to your boss (earning major job-security points), you’ll also be working to make her look good. Make an effort to learn what’s expected of your boss from her boss, and then help her meet those goals. If your boss’s boss likes things presented in a certain way, make sure your portions of a presentation are made in just that way.

If you know what times are more stressful for your boss, anticipate those occasions and make some room in your schedule to help take some work off your boss’s plate. If you always seem to know what needs to be done before it’s asked, your boss will notice and remember you for helping her stay on top of things.

Be a Problem Solver

Sometimes things go wrong and projects get messy. If you’re the problem solver, you’ll help your boss keep things running smoothly and look good to the rest of the company. Plus, you’ll reap the benefits of being a part of a successful team.

Don’t come to your boss with problems when things aren’t going right on a project; come to your boss with solutions already in mind. A problem solver is a major asset to an organization, so not only will you be making your boss look good, you’ll be making yourself prime promotion material. And wanting a project to go well certainly won’t be read as sucking up.

Keep Your Boss in the Loop

This one is a bit trickier than just being good at your job and solving problems, but keeping your boss in the loop is a very helpful way of making her look good. This does not mean coming to your boss with petty office gossip or wasting her time on department politics. It does mean making sure your boss is aware of what’s going on in the trenches while she’s stuck in administrative meetings or off-site client calls.

If there are things she needs to know because project timelines could be affected, take some time to make her aware. Anytime it’s clear to other management that your boss has a firm grasp of what’s going on in her department, she’ll look good and appreciate your helping her do so.

Give Simple and True Praise

The best, and most difficult, way of making your boss look good at work is to give her praise. But you must be particularly careful that it doesn’t sound like you’re just kissing up. Most importantly, make sure your praise is true and sincere. If your boss managed a project well or handled a client issue with grace, mention it to her boss in passing. It’s okay to publicly praise your boss when the praise is real. Remember that everyone else also works with your boss, so they’ll know if you’re making up false praise.

The other key way to praise your boss without being a suck-up is to keep it simple. You don’t have to gush in great detail about your boss’s management style. Just mentioning that she’s good at motivating the team and triggering good ideas is praise enough and worth saying for the benefits it will bring to you.

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