How to Make Yourself More Valuable to You Boss

In Career Guidance, Psychology for Managing People, Leadership Resources by Steve Sliwa

Excerpted from The New Psychology for Managing People
By Mortimer R. Feinberg et al

  • Be a source of good current information. — Industrial psychologists have noted that the higher a man goes in an organization, the more insulated he may become from what is going on.  Partly this is a matter of choice; he does not want to involve himself in everything. Partly it is an inevitable result of the broad nature of his responsibility, and partly it is because people tend not to tell the top man what is going on. You can be a source of pertinent information to your boss, but make sure it is information, not gossip. And make sure it does not in any way reflect upon the performance of others. Sometimes, just a brief anecdote about something that occurred at a departmental meeting can give your boss a valuable feel for what is happening in an area that has become increasingly remote from him.
  • Cover his area of least interest. — Your boss is not equally skilled at all facets of his responsibility‚ÄĒno man is. Nor is he equally interested in all facets of it. As you get to know him, you can come to a pretty accurate determination of certain areas that, while important, do not intrigue him. To the extent that you can handle these areas for him, he will welcome your help, come to rely more heavily upon your judgment, and recognize the fact that your efforts are increasing the overall effectiveness of the operation.
  • Anticipate. — Routine subordinates wait for the boss to give them instructions or direction, and then react. This wastes time and places a great burden on the boss. As you come to know your boss and the operation, try to develop the ability to anticipate what the boss is going to want and need. At first, make a few “dry runs”; anticipate and then see how well your anticipations work out in practice. Then, when you are able to, anticipate and move. When you conclude that the boss is going to want to move in a certain direction, begin to pull together materials that will assist him in his decisions. Prepare the ground for him. He will recognize it and appreciate it.
  • Exercise Tact. — There may be times when you have every reason to be justified in raising hell with a colleague. You may go ahead and do it, and a fair-minded superior will have to agree that you are right. But agreeing that you are right does not necessarily mean that he appreciates what you are doing. Use your judgment in difficult situations. It may be best to hold back from “rocking the boat” for the simple reason that if you do, you will just be making a boss’s already tough job immeasurably more complicated and difficult.
  • Be Willing to take on the Dirty Jobs. — Status is important to all of us. As a manager moves higher in the organization, he may well feel that he is no longer to involve himself in some of the more unpleasant tasks that were incumbent upon him at a lower level. And he is probably quite right in feeling this way. Nevertheless, “dirty jobs” do come up, and they have to be handled. The manager who is willing to step in and handle them, even when his status does not require it, is a manager who will be particularly valued by his boss.
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