Who is your boss’ BFF?
If it’s you, congratulations. You will be the first to be promoted and the last to be fired. If it’s not, you could be the last to be promoted and the first to be fired.
Fortunately, with a little help from Fortune.com, even a slacker like you can become your boss’ main squeeze. Or so I learned from their recent article, “11 Easy Ways to Become Your Boss’ Favorite Team Member.”
While the article is helpful, it does start off on a depressing note — “Every manager and every workplace is different, but speaking generally, the best way to get your boss to like you is to do great work.”
I think we both know that isn’t going to happen, which means you’ll have to use two of the proven business strategies you have already mastered, duplicity and deceit. With these tools and a level of commitment you have never been able to muster for your company’s mission statement, you’ll be ready to implement the “easy ways” to become Barney Rubble to your boss’ Fred Flintstone.
For example, you are advised to “demonstrate your value to the company” and show the boss “how you’re critical to their personal success.”
This is indeed easy. Simply remind your boss that your slovenly work habits and woeful lack of productivity improves the image of the team’s biggest bozos, your boss included.
“Tweak your communication style to match theirs” is another way to become the apple of your boss’ eye. “Is it Slack? Email? Face-to-face conversations?” asks professor Michael Watkins in the Harvard Business Review, “and how often should you check in?”
This list misses the best possible way for you and your boss to communicate — semaphore. You stand on top of your desk, semaphore flags flying with wild abandon. Your boss is unlikely to criticize your signaled communication since she’s three stories up and can’t see you. As for how frequently you and your boss should communicate, I suggest you check in every time the United States experiences a total solar eclipse. The next eclipse will be April 8, 2024. Better put it on your boss’ calendar now.
If you want to win your boss’ heart, you are advised to “ask for advice.” Research from Harvard Business School, no less, suggests that “asking for advice doesn’t make you look stupid.”
But what if you really are stupid, almost as stupid as your boss? I say — if you do ask for advice, choose a subject that the boss can handle. Here’s an idea — at the next team meeting, raise your hand and ask, “is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?” By the time your boss figures out the answer, you will have slipped out the back door and be on your way to the Kit Kat Klub.
“Say ‘thanks'” is another piece of advice to the lovelorn employee. A study by the University of Southern California shows “expressing thanks for your boss’ feedback — even if it’s negative — can make them feel warmer towards you.”
I’m afraid I can’t embrace this advice. If you say thanks to all the negative feedback dumped on you, you’ll never have time for the appropriate responses — tears, hair-pulling and holding your breath until you turn red.
Setting “stretch goals” is yet another suggestion from the Harvard Business School. (Better withdraw that application to Harvard Business School. With all the research these Harvard people do, it couldn’t leave much time for toga parties.)
Stretch goals “go beyond what others thought were possible.”
Setting such goals is indeed easy peasy. You could promise to actually finish an assignment on deadline, or spend an entire day at your desk without screaming warnings of a zombie attack.
Surprisingly, another way to become the boss’ No. 1 squeeze is to take all your vacation days. Another study published in the Harvard Business Review (where else?) suggests that “working yourself to death doesn’t necessarily lead to success.”
The idea here is that taking all your vacation time is likely to leave you with “increased creativity post-break.” This, in turn, will make your boss go gaga for you.
If true, why not push it to the limit? Take your vacation time and multiply by five. With any luck, you could be gone for so long that the boss forgets you are even on the team.
Now, that’s something your boss can do that really deserves a “thanks.”
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.