"It's already been arranged."
While your boss may be tackling bigger tasks than you, that doesn't change how good it feels to check something off the old to-do list. When your boss asks about something that's finished, let him know it clearly and directly. Some employees speak so indirectly to their bosses that the boss may continue thinking or worrying about a task that's done, just because the employee didn't come right out and say the good news. If the task is done, say so.
This one's a no-brainer. When something good happens, bring your boss in on the good feelings. Work is about getting work done, but that doesn't mean you can't take pride and satisfaction when something works out well. Your boss has plenty of bad news headed his way on a regular basis, so you stick out like a sore thumb when you're the bearer of good news. Being a source of pleasure for your boss is never a bad thing.
You think your coworkers are a bunch of complainers? You have no idea. As much as they whine to you, you wouldn't believe how much pushback your boss gets. When assigning work to your fellow employees, your boss has to hold people's hands and listen to complaints about how busy they are and how difficult the project is going to be. Don't be one of the complainers. When you're given a task you can handle, let your boss know that it's a slam dunk.
"It's being taken care of."
Sooner or later, you're going to screw up. It hurts, but it happens. When you drop the ball on something, you should do two things: tell your boss and tell your boss what you're doing about it. Sure, your boss isn't going to be happy that a mistake was made (who likes problems in their area?), but he will be a lot less happy if he doesn't hear about it from you, and then gets blindsided by it when the situation blows up. So fess up to the error, it shows that you're big enough to be responsible for your actions. But always, always have a plan for getting things back on track. Let your boss know that you're correcting the error -- it shows that you're paying enough attention to realize you messed up, and you care enough to not settle for mediocrity.
"With regard to X, I've figure out we can do A, B or C. What do you think?"
It's fine to have situations at work, and there's nothing wrong with asking your boss for advice, but before you step into his or her office, have some ideas about what can be done. By having a few ideas, you show that you've thought the situation through. Even if your boss doesn't like any of your ideas and tells you to do “D” instead, you've shown him or her that your first reaction at the sign of trouble is to start thinking, not throw up your hands and run to the boss with your problems.
"I figured out what to do about X."
Not every problem is simple enough to be solvable in a few minutes, and that's OK, but you should keep thinking about the problem, and try to find out a way to solve the situation (or at least move it forward). If you come up with a solution or at least a next step, share it with your boss. The more you get promoted, the larger and more complex the problems will get, and the harder it will be to find a “perfect” solution too. So, show that you're able to plan ahead and solve the bigger problems.
"Consider it done."
When you make this statement, in one instant, an item has gone from something vague in your boss' mind to a task that's assigned to somebody. This is a step toward being seen as a “go-to person,” your bosses reliable right-hand man.
"I'll see to it personally."
This statement is an extension of “consider it done.” If you have a reputation with your boss as somebody who can handle the important or difficult work, saying you'll handle it personally calls in that reputation you've built up. If you've been doing your work well and doing it on time, saying you're taking care of if personally reminds your boss that the task will not only get done, but it will get done with the standard of excellence he's come to expect from you.
"I found a way to get it done cheaper."
Getting invested in the bottom line is one of the best ways to get your boss smiling. You can work hard and be a good employee all you like, but businesses don't run on happy feelings. Your boss is always looking for ways to do two things: make the business more money and cost the business less money. And while you can always help find ways to earn the company more, suggestions to save money are often easier. Lots of people can say “we need more customers,” but if you find a new vendor who's 10% cheaper, that's a hard number your boss can put to use.
"Let me run an idea by you."Having employees who are taking the initiative means the boss can focus on the tasks on his plate; he doesn't have to worry that you're just sitting around waiting for direction. Your boss will appreciate you trying to come up with ideas, but he wouldn't appreciate you launching those ideas without getting his opinion. As the one responsible for what comes out of the department, he wants to know that everybody is rowing in the same direction. So come up with some good ideas, use your noodle and make sure your boss gets the benefit from your brainstorm.
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