Want success? Please your boss

Your real job is to make your boss successful.


Forget what your job description says.

Your real job is to make your boss successful, argues Geoffrey James, a veteran business journalist in Boston, columnist for Inc. magazine and author of a 2014 book on the topic published by Business Plus.

Having clarity on the new office dynamics is crucial to achieve lasting success — and that starts with being very clear about your relationship with your boss.

Gone are the days that youÕre an employee, even if you are on staff at a company. James says successful workers must see themselves as freelancers or contractors, because they can no longer rest in the illusion that their job is secure.

"Even if you've got a salaried position with benefits, perks, paid vacations and a fancy title, you're still a freelancer. If you aren't constantly selling and reselling your services, you'll be unemployed faster than you can say pink slip," he explains.

If you're now a freelancer, your boss is your client, perhaps your best client. Your relationship is more symbiotic, because you need each other. And your job is to keep him or her happy.

To better manage your relationship and keep your boss happy, James says you must embrace a few truths.

The hardest for people to swallow is that bosses withhold information. Because of the inherent inequality of power with those in their charge, most bosses will want to keep some knowledge to themselves and away from employees.

"When bosses tell self-serving lies about salaries, raises, layoffs, work hours, etc., they set themselves beyond the limits of ethical human behavior. That being the case, they no longer have any right to ask for total honesty from the people they employ," James explains.

Recognize instances when you don't need to tell your boss everything. For instance, you're not helping your boss when you communicate a truth that puts him or her into such a position that he or she must lie in order to keep from being fired, or to prevent your team's budget from being cut.

James offers more tips for keeping your boss happy:

1. Keep your promises

Whenever you accept an assignment, follow through on what you say you're going to do. Never over-commit.

2. No surprises, ever

No boss wants to think about a worker who is screwing up but not saying anything about it. Don't wait until the last minute to deliver bad news.

3. Advise, then obey

Offer your boss your advice and perspective. When your boss deviates from your recommendation, attempt to convince him or her to make a better choice. But then stop second-guessing the decision and implement it effectively.