Being a boss’s go-to person and confidante can help your career in life changing ways. It demonstrates that you can be trusted and have leadership skills to take charge in your manager’s absence. The positive reinforcement you receive feeds on itself and enhances your productivity.
Call it Pavlovian or just human nature, but we’re all motivated by praise and positive reinforcement to work at our maximum capacity. As long as no favoritism is shown among your equally qualified office-mates, being a trusted confidante is a win-win. The key is to know how to attain and sustain that coveted, career-worthy role; it requires some strategic moves. Here are a few tips:
1) Show Loyalty. Do what makes your boss and company look good, within reason. If your actions improve the standing of your boss and employer, you’ll be rewarded. If you act dishonestly, just to make an impression or placate the boss, for example, you may have to shift ground later. So think through your actions using your moral compass.
2) Demonstrate That You Care. Work hard, but not 24/7. Show that you care to get the job done, even if it means putting in the extra 10 percent. Think results overall more than face time, as that’s what you’ll ultimately be measured by.
3) Don’t Just Hear, Listen. If you practice good listening skills, you’ll get to know your boss’s real issues – and how to provide meaningful solutions. The better you do this, the more trust you’ll engender, and the better confidante you’ll become.
4) Don’t Cross the Fine Line. There’s a fine line between being the boss’s go-to person and flaunting the idea that you hold special privileges among those with equal status to you in the department. If you have to hurt others to aspire to be your boss’s trusted advisor, you’ll ultimately hurt your career. Sooner or later, you’ll need your colleagues as a team to move any project forward.
5) Avoid Flying Solo. You can be the go-to person and still stay out of hot water with your colleagues by including them in projects, soliciting their feedback and sharing information. Avoid the temptation to be completely independent of your office mates because you’re given certain privileges. Play down any extra latitude you’re given; include them in your limelight; and give them due credit. When you need them, they’ll remember you.
The benefits of being a “go-to person” are vast, as long as there’s no favoritism. You will be privy to more senior information and learn the ropes much faster; you’ll see what it’s like from the inside perspective firsthand; you’ll get more visible kudos and general job satisfaction; and your career, promotion and compensation will all rise more quickly.
6) Learn to “Manage Up." If you’ve already decided to stay at a company, then you must accept at least some of your boss’s flaws. He is your manager, and you want to stay on his good side, helping him to see the light! You can “manage up” with a Terrible Office Tyrant, however, by role modeling good behavior - and using positive and negative reinforcement - much as you would with a child. Let her know the outcome of poor decisions using deft diplomacy. Also, keep yourself focused on doing the best job you can so you won’t be too distracted by your boss’s shortcomings.
Remember to follow your gut as you perform in your job. If your boss expects you to ‘brown-nose,” and you feel you don’t have the opportunity to speak up, it may be time to do just that.
Break open the communication lines so you can enjoy your job. You may be surprised: that could be exactly what your boss really wants from you - and didn’t think you had the mettle to execute upon. That’s the point at which you might actually become a true, go-to confidante – because your boss will realize that you have the company’s best interest in mind - versus just being the best shmoozer in the office.