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October 16 is National Boss’ Day, a day that is set aside for workers to show their appreciation to their boss.  Instead of giving your boss a card, gift certificate, or flowers to celebrate this day, why not give your boss a few things that he or she wants from you throughout the year?  Here are five things that your boss would probably appreciate from you every day.

1.  Keep your boss informed about the status of your work.

More than likely, your boss doesn’t want to know about every move you make at work.  You should ask your boss about the type and frequency of information he or she wants about the status of your work assignments.  Does your boss want information about the volume of work done? How about information on the status of special projects you’re working on?  Or, does your boss only want to know when a problem or potential problem arises?   Don’t always wait for your boss to ask you for an update; get clarity from your boss about the amount and frequency of information she wants about your activities.  Be careful not to hide or cover up bad news.  Your boss will appreciate a heads-up about something that may negatively affect the business unit, or perhaps even blind-side or embarrass him later.

2. Turn problems into proposals.

Before taking a problem to your boss, try to find the solution on your own.  Since you already know the work well, chances are you already have some good ideas about how to resolve the problem.  Asking your manager to solve the problem can be the safe approach because you will be sure to handle it the way he or she prefers.  And, if your boss tends to micromanage, asking him to solve the problem simply cuts out the middleman – you!   However, most managers want employees who can think through problems and find solutions to solve them.  More than likely, your manager wants you to function independently. Using your manager as a crutch to resolve issues that you can handle on your own stunts your own professional growth and does little to increase the level of confidence your boss has in your abilities.  If the problem is one that is outside your scope of authority or expertise, don’t hesitate to involve your manager.  This shows good judgment about when a problem should be escalated to a higher level.

3. Show initiative.

Your manager wants you to show initiative in your work instead of doing only the tasks assigned.  Many employees are already swamped with work as companies struggle to do more with less. If you are in that position, it’s understandable if you feel you can’t take on one more task without actually going under.  Even if you can’t volunteer to spearhead the department’s major new initiative, you can show some level of initiative in your work, even if it’s simply volunteering to make phone calls to gather some much-needed information for an important project.  Besides, initiative is much more of a mindset than it is a task. Adopt a willingness to pitch in and help the team when needed without being asked.  More than likely, they’ll reciprocate.

4. Understand your boss’ style preferences.

I touched on this is a previous post.  We all have a preferred style of communicating, leading, or working, and we are more effective when we can work in our preferred style.  Often, we need to adapt our style to fit the working styles of those around us.  You can enhance your relationship with your boss if you take time to understand your boss’ style preferences and learn to communicate and work with him in ways that complement his style.  Ideally, your boss is also adapting her style to communicate and work more cooperatively with you and others on your team.

5.  Do your job well.

Nothing is more troublesome to a manager than an employee whose work is  below par.  Poor performers complicate everything.  The job of managing the work is harder, goals are more difficult to attain, and morale in the work unit deteriorates.  Be sure that you are competent in performing your job tasks, that you are clear on goals and expectations, and that you deliver work as expected.

National Boss’ Day comes only once a year, but you can give your boss the gift of excellent performance every day.  If not, it’s not too late to buy your boss a box of chocolates before work tomorrow.