6 Easy Ways to Keep Your Boss Happier

Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on October 15, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a few of my approaches to hiring great people with potential employers. This week, I have decided to take the other seat and share something with potential employees. After writing the previous blog, I started thinking about how I would actually define my ideal team member.  Based on that, here are 6 tips for EASY things that will get you on your boss’ good side – or mine, at least.


  1. Respond to every email I send – Not everything I send is earth-shattering, nor does everything require an in-depth response. But acknowledging even simple items with “Ok. I will take care of it.” saves me time spent wondering and then following up to see if you received, understood, etc. Same applies to texts and IMs used for internal correspondence.
  2. Keep me in the loop on your work – I don’t want micro-details, and I don’t have time for daily 30-minute reports, but I do want to know how your work is going overall. This means two things: (a) Copying me (or Bcc’ing me) on all client correspondence (so I don’t have to ask . . . ) and (b) Talking to me. I want to know if you’re having issues with an assignment, process, co-worker, or client – early, so that we can address it together.
  3. Give me time to mentor AND do my “day job” – Most managers have other responsibilities and deadlines, too. We cannot always respond at a moment’s notice to non-urgent requests, or drop what we’re doing for a “minute” we barely have that turns into 30! That being said, we love to mentor and want to give our input. Work with us to schedule things in advance, including confabs and quality checks.  If you’re following #2, above, present information in an organized way on a regular schedule, or at least during scheduled times.
  4. Ask; don’t tell (about PTO) – Sometimes you won’t be able to request time off in advance (e.g., you’re sick), but when you can, here are a couple tips. (1) Request PTO well in advance; it’s never too soon since I’m going to have to plan around your absence. (2) Approach me with a request instead of informing me that you’ll be out. As sales people know, it’s all in the ask. I am fair and reasonable and I actually want you to take time away from the office to recharge, but I’m also cognizant of how that impacts the rest of us, and I like knowing that you get it, too.
  5. Check in / check out – Start the day with a quick “good morning” and check-in and wrap it with a “good night” and quick daily recap. It’s not so I can monitor your arrival or departure times; I enjoy the personal interaction and I greatly appreciate the information. This simple act tells your boss that you see your job as more than “butt in chair” time.
  6. One-up me – In everything that you do, from how you dress to how you manage your time to how you handle disappointments and client issues, do it better than your boss. I hired you because I believed that you have the potential to be better than me. Prove me right. Make me proud! Allow me to push you — and trust me. I have your back.


You have heard it before, but bosses (managers, employers, etc.) are people, too. We have good days and not-so-good days. We mess up, then we replay our mistakes (much more than yours). We struggle with being both an effective manager who gives honest feedback and holds people accountable and being a compassionate and empathetic human being. The suggestions I’ve outlined recognize that shared humanity and I guarantee will help you develop a more respectful and happier relationship with your boss.

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