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5 Ways to Make Your Boss Happy

10/11/2011 5:42:02 PM

By Angela Rose,

Picture this: a quiet office in the early morning hours, phones ringing softly, the tapping of fingers on keyboards, the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee and donut holes wafting through the hallways. Suddenly, a door slams. The boss has arrived, and he or she is particularly unhappy. As soon as she fires up her computer, your inbox is flooded with demands. Your mood, once light, sinks like a lead balloon.

Unhappy bosses are often stressed or fearful. Unfortunately, in this economy, there is often much to feel stressed and fearful about. In a recent survey by American Behavioral and Behavioral Health Systems, 62 percent of respondents said their employers are trying to do more with less because of the poor economy. The responsibility to maintain company productivity despite layoffs and hiring freezes often falls on immediate supervisors and department heads –like your boss.

This does not mean, however, that you have to let his or her bad mood become your own. Instead, implement these suggestions to make your boss happy today.

1. Be a go-getter. You’re good at following orders? Good for you. However, when dealing with a stressed and overburdened boss, it’s even better to take action without them. Anticipate your supervisor’s needs and fill them. Identify company problems and find solutions. Speak up in meetings when no one else will. Put in extra hours when no one else can. Your boss will appreciate not having to babysit your progress or productivity.

2. Ask for more. Bosses love employees who are willing to step up and take on more than required, so ask for more work (if you can handle it) or increased responsibility. You’ll prove your worth (a good idea when layoffs are common) and become someone he or she can count on in a pinch. It might even lead to a nice salary increase or promotion down the line.

3. Perform to the new standards. What does your boss need most from his or her employees right now? Ask, and then make sure you deliver. If he really needs people to put in overtime, do it. If she places the most value on employees who keep a positive attitude, maintain one. Showing up on time and going through the motions may be enough to keep you from being fired, but it is usually not enough to make your boss truly happy.

4. Adapt your style. Everyone has a preferred communication style. Identify your supervisor’s style and adapt your own to it. If her office is right down the hall but she always sends emails, don’t pop in to ask a question. If he always responds to emails by stopping by your office, start stopping by his. If she frequently asks for hard copies of emailed reports, start printing them. If he frequently asks what you’re working on, keep him informed.

5. Be happy. Just as unhappy bosses beget unhappy employees, happy employees can generate happy bosses. So be happy while you work (and if you’re not, fake it). Leave family, relationship and money troubles at home. Don’t complain about your workload, your compensation or your coworkers. Don’t demand constant praise or attention. Do your job (and more if possible), do it well and do it cheerfully.

The next time your boss is unhappy, don’t dwell on how his or her mood affects you. Instead, implement the above suggestions and consider what else you can do to alleviate the stress or fear that is likely at the root of the problem.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for

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