Winning your boss’ favor isn’t so hard to do.
And it’s not about kissing up by complimenting their new haircut or volunteering for every single new assignment.
Instead, it’s about figuring out what they want from you and being strategic in making them feel good.
To help you ingratiate yourself with your manager, we consulted both scientific research and expert opinion. Read on for the eight most compelling insights we learned.
1. Get to work early
Research from the Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington suggests that employees who get into the office early are generally perceived by their managers as more conscientious and receive higher performance ratings than employees who arrive later.
And it doesn’t matter if those who get in later stay later, too.
If you feel that you’d be more productive working from, say, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., consider explaining the situation to your manager and confronting their potential “morning bias” head-on.
2. Ask for advice
You might be wary of asking your boss anything — whether it’s how they got to this point in their career or which marketing strategy they think you should go with.
In one experiment, 170 university students worked on a series of computer tasks and were told they would be matched with a partner who would complete the same tasks. (The partner was really a computer simulation.) When they’d finished the tasks, the “partner” either said, “I hope it went well” or “I hope it went well. Do you have any advice?”
As it turns out, students who’d been asked for advice rated their “partner” more competent than those who hadn’t been asked for advice.
The researchers explain that when you ask for advice, you’re validating the person’s intelligence and experience, so they feel good about you in turn.
3. Manage up
“Managing up” is a term for learning what your boss really cares about and making sure you deliver on that.
As Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of software company Likable Local, told Business Insider, “It’s about helping your manager look great to his or her manager. And ultimately by doing that you’re going to position yourself better for success.”
Kerpen expects his team at Likeable Local to manage up to him. For example, he doesn’t care that his head of marketing shows up late almost every day — as long as she’s on time Monday morning, delivering a great report at the company-wide meeting.
Kerpen recommends either asking your boss directly what’s important to them or subtly trying to figure it out on your own.