Your first lesson in managing up is learning how to keep your superior sweet.

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So you want to impress your supervisor without being a suck-up? Join the club. We get the low-down from Sherlyn, a manager with 10 years of experience, on the dos and don’ts of making yourself look good in front of your boss. 

1 Dress appropriately

Looks aren’t everything, but they definitely matter when it comes to how you present yourself at work. A polished appearance is a sign that you care about the details, and your boss will appreciate this. If you work at a fashion company, be conscious, too, of the brands you buy your clothes from – you don’t want to show up in apparel from a competitor brand.

2 Arrive early at the office

Being on time is the new “late”. When employees arrive on time, it can slow everything else down; there’s a settling-in period where you show up, say hello to colleagues, go to the bathroom, fix yourself a cup of coffee, surf the web… then suddenly, half an hour has gone by. Showing up early gives you time to settle down, which means you’re actually ready to work when the clock hits 9am.

3 Speak with intention

Be direct instead of beating around the bush. Managers are busy people, and they don’t have time to go back and forth. If you have something to say, plan your speech, and once you speak, get straight to the point. The key is to make it relevant and make it quick.

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4 Stay focused

You’d be surprised at the number of people who use office hours to complete non-work-related tasks. The company pays you to do your job, so doing anything else (including trawling through Instagram at your desk) is a big no – it doesn’t look good on you if you’re caught.
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5 Follow up

If you’ve submitted a report or assisted on a project, follow up by asking how the work is coming along, even if your input is no longer required. This shows that you value your contribution and put effort into the work that you’ve done.

6 Take initiative

Help out on new tasks – even those that don’t fall under your official job scope. This shows an adaptability and willingness to grow on your part. “I once had an employee from the marketing department ask to sit in on finance meetings because she wanted to learn about how money was managed within the company and how the marketing department could impact the bottom line,” shares Sherlyn.
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7 Bring solutions, not just problems

If you’re flagging an issue to your boss, go prepared with several ways to resolve it. Even if your suggestions aren’t put to use, it shows that you’ve thought about the situation and took steps to try to fix it, rather than simply pass the problem off  to someone else. Offering solutions is responsibility at its finest.

8 When it comes to important tasks, don’t fake it till you make… a mistake

If you’re assigned something but don’t quite know how to get to the end goal, save everyone time and be honest about what you don’t know. Don’t go full steam ahead – your boss would definitely much rather take five minutes to explain something than spend five hours trying to correct a mistake.
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9 Remind your boss why you were hired

No boss wants to feel as if he or she hired the wrong person for the job, so make sure that your work is a constant reminder of why they hired you in the first place. Think creatively and outside the box, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you have a different perspective.

10 Be adaptable

Bosses appreciate employees who have a diverse skill set and are ready to tackle anything that comes their way, even if it means occasionally staying late or stepping out of their comfort zones. Sherlyn shares that her most valuable employees are the ones who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. An example: Planning a glamorous event is one thing, but actually working the party and attending to guests is an entirely different matter – bosses want an employee who can do both comfortably.