Most knowledge workers think that working is mostly about doing a great job for the company. Though it is indeed necessary to do a great job for the company, each and every day, to help the company prosper, there is more to working than just producing for the sake of meeting company goals.

Getting yourself promoted within a company often involves proving to your boss that you are loyal, supportive, and willing to go the extra mile for him or her to help get him or her promoted. You have to find a delicate but firm way to place your boss’ work and career interests and goals above yours. It’s about making your boss look so good that he or she gets a promotion and knows that he or she “owes you one”.

To do that, you need to learn about your boss’ needs and your boss’ performance criteria, without appearing to be micro-managing your boss. What is it about your boss’ performance and job that would bring him or her more prestige, attract positive attention, win a higher score on his or her performance appraisal, etc.? Can you do anything to make it easier for your boss to achieve those results or can you be instrumental in some critical way to making any of those things happen?

Sometimes it pays to ask outright, “I understand that you have some critical objectives to meet and some demands beyond that…What information and results do you need that will win you a promotion?”  You ask that type of question after laying the groundwork by explaining that you recognise that you are a top performer and want to do all you can to be all the more helpful to your boss’ career.  Another question to ask, “I recognise that in addition to the obvious performance and other goals you stated for our division you have other pressures and requirements that can affect your performance. What, if any, other issues or areas can I contribute to that will be helpful to you and your performance?”

In addition to the above, follow the obvious rules to make your boss look good and to help make yourself more indebted to your boss:

  • Never speak ill of anyone, especially your boss.
  • Talk up your boss’ attributes, skills, contributions, and management capabilities as often as appropriate without appearing to be brown nosing…so you do that when the boss is not present.
  • Point to your boss’s achievements, and show how they tie back into corporate goals and objectives,  in public forums such as your speeches, news letters, posts, departmental meetings and presentations, especially if your boss is not present.
  • Be a first-mover when your boss is trying to implement some changes, new ideas or processes. Understand that your boss has invested plenty of thinking already and is going to be struggling with implementing the new idea or change. Be among the first to help figure out how to get it implemented.