Boss Appreciation Day just passed, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until next October to show your boss how much you appreciate them. In fact, you can show someone how much they are valued on any day of the year, not just one specific holiday.
One of the best ways to show your boss your appreciation is by stepping up to the plate and being a good employee. You can do this at no cost other than a little of your time. And your boss will be pretty impressed with you along the way!
1. Educate yourself
A well-furnished mind is an asset to any company. Just because you left college years (or even decades) ago, there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue to improve yourself, your knowledge of the industry you work in, and life in general.
Start listening to free podcasts on the drive to and from work. Watch TED talks and read books or magazines about your industry. Attend business seminars that are paid for by your company. Further your education with courses available free from the library. Do whatever you can to soak up information, and make a point to share that knowledge casually in meetings and conversations.
If you make the boss look good, you look good to the boss. By becoming an impressive, knowledgeable employee, you help everyone, including yourself. (See also: 7 Certifications That Add Big $$ to Your Salary)
2. Ask for more responsibility
What can you do to take some of the burden of the boss’s shoulders? Do you have skills that could come in handy and free up some of his or her time? If so, volunteer to help out.
Yes, you may find yourself busier, or even staying late on occasion. You may have to come in earlier to get everything done, or work through lunch. And you’ll be doing it all for the same money.
However, that won’t be the case forever. If you can become an essential part of your boss’s daily routine, you will be valued. And when you’re valued, promotions and raises often follow. Even if they don’t, keeping the boss happy is a great way to ensure job security. (See also: 8 Ways to Improve Your Career, Get Ahead, and Become Upwardly Mobile)
3. Do some of those tasks everyone hates
You know the ones, because you don’t like doing them, either. Making the coffee. Fixing a paper jam. Checking supplies and putting in orders for new stationery, pens, paper clips, and highlighters. Dealing with complaints. Whatever the cruddy jobs are in your workplace, take some of them on. Your boss is usually the one that must do it if no one else does. But if the boss sees that you’re on top of those day-to-day humdrum activities, you’ll earn some extra credit.
4. Keep everything clean and organized
Have you ever walked past someone’s workspace and it looks like an explosion of papers, coffee cups, tissues, and empty food containers? What kind of message does that send? It doesn’t matter if that employee happens to be the most productive one in the building (and just might be so busy there’s never any time to tidy up) — it just makes that person appear sloppy and disorganized.
Do what you can to keep your work area as clean and organized as possible. It doesn’t have to be stock photo perfect, but it should look like you’re on top of everything. Get into the habit of giving your space a tidying up before leaving every night. Before long, it will be second nature.
5. Get there before the boss … and leave after them
Nothing says dedicated to the boss quite like beating him or her to the office. It doesn’t have to be hours before, either. Simply arriving 10 minutes before they do is good enough (unless they’re in the habit of arriving late for work every day).
Ideally, you should aim to get into work about 15–20 minutes before your actual start time. When it’s time to leave, stay a little longer. Use that time to clean your space, as mentioned above, or do a few of those tasks that no one else likes to do. The extra effort will get noticed, and sometimes you can actually cut down the time of your commute by getting in early and leaving a little late.
6. Become a firm decision maker
The boss has a lot to deal with. So, when he or she comes to you with a question, the last thing they want to hear is a shaky, uncommitted, and infuriating “I could go either way” answer. Your answer should, in fact, be informed, assertive, and free of doubt.
Even if the boss disagrees with your opinion, it will be taken much better than a weak answer that commits you to no clear direction. People in charge usually get that position by being good decision makers, and you should start standing up for what you believe as soon as you can. A great boss will want to hear differing opinions, so never be afraid to politely go against the party line.
7. Go beyond your job description
No boss in the world is impressed by an employee that refuses to do something beyond their job description. “That’s not really my job” is a phrase about as inspiring as “Man, this place sucks, I can’t wait to leave.”
If you have skills that go beyond your current position, by all means utilize them. Go above and beyond. And if you’re asked to occasionally do something you consider “beneath you,” take a moment to think if it really is. Will you be helping the boss by getting this done? Maybe you have to sit at reception and take calls for an hour. Perhaps you have to run to the supply store. Are these hardships, or are you showing just how helpful you can be?
8. Ask for honest feedback
There’s a big difference between an official performance review and a one-on-one private conversation about you and your position. Set up a meeting every few months with your boss as a way to gauge his or her impression of the job you’re doing. What can you do better? What are you doing well? How can you improve?
This is a great way to ease the pressure from someone who has a lot of employees to manage, and nip any potential issues in the bud. It also gives the boss an easy way to bring up concerns, rather than those awkward meetings they have to initiate if something is a problem.
9. Find ways to cut costs
Money is important to any business. Losing money is bad, making money is good, and whatever you can do to stem the former and boost the latter will be very much appreciated.
Start with your own department. Ask how things are done and what costs are associated with each process. For example, there’s a famous money-saving story about a worker at a matchbox factory. He told the head of the company he could save them thousands of pounds every year with one simple suggestion — put sandpaper on only one side of the box.
Are there ways you can apply this thinking at your company? Do you see examples of waste that can be eliminated? Write up a report and tell your boss, then wait for the well-earned pat on the back.
10. Become a fountain of industry knowledge
Whatever business you’re in, there’s always breaking news about it. You could be in the air conditioning industry, selling cupcakes, or curing diseases. And these days, the internet offers a wealth of new information on everything imaginable.
Start following known industry leaders and innovators on social media. Subscribe to newsletters and industry magazines. Listen to podcasts. Then, make a note of the most interesting and relevant news and let your boss know about it. Maybe send a weekly news email to the department, and CC the boss. It is a fantastic way to show you’re dedicated to your career and that you want to help the company succeed. The boss will love you for it.