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Doing What it Takes to Make Your Boss Look Good

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The famed improvisational comedy group Second City in Chicago has a saying amongst its members. "If you try to make everyone else look good on stage, we'll all look good. If you try to make yourself look good, we'll all look bad." Improv comedy is a collaborative, highly competitive business, and this wisdom can teach professionals a thing or two about succeeding in the workplace. It all begins with doing what it takes to make your boss look good. Let's face it, when your boss shines, you shine. We're not talking about sucking up to your boss or taking credit where it's not due. We're talking about showing solidarity and building a bond of trust with your supervisor so that when it comes time to evaluate and promote, your name will be on the front burner. Here are some concrete things you can do to build a foundation of trust and respect with your boss.

Go to Bat
You may be thinking, my boss is supposed to be the one going to bat for me. Think again. Having someone's back is a two way street. Inevitably, there will be times when you need to stick up for your boss in private or in meetings. Showing solidarity will do wonders for your job security and proves that you grasp the bigger picture — that you are part of a system or a department and should reflect it at all times. When your boss is being cast in a bad light, performing damage control becomes one of your duties. And it's always a good idea to acknowledge your boss in your successes.

Set Yourself Apart
Setting yourself apart means going above and beyond meeting your basic job requirements and what your boss expects of you. Taking on more responsibilities gives your boss a chance to use his or her delegation skills and cuts a slice out of the pie they have to worry about. Problem solving is only one aspect of the process. Keep in mind that today's companies have issues that require constant follow up and monitoring after problems have been solved.

Become a Mentor
A mentor is really a resource and becoming one is another way to show your boss that you are a valuable resource. Let your manager know that when new hires come onboard you welcome the chance to orient them and show them the ropes. This helps extend your influence both up and down the corporate ladder because new hires will appreciate your mentorship and your boss will take note of your leadership abilities.

Refer Capable People
Whether your business has a formal referral program or not, it's a good idea to be proactive and refer capable people to your boss. Odds are, if he or she likes your work, they will appreciate your suggestions. If your boss ends up hiring someone you know don't take the credit. Your boss will find ways to thank you for the referral that can include positive reviews, more compensation, and promotions down the road.

Do the Little Things
Recognize what your boss prizes most of all and then work as hard as you can to deliver it. Does your boss really appreciate it when you tackle projects no one else wants to? Or when you take initiative and solve things on your own? Little things like being punctual, meeting deadlines, and dressing sharp are a reflection on your boss and can go a long way.

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