Standing out in the office sometimes takes more than just being good at your job.
To impress your boss, in many cases, you have to go above and beyond, sometimes working harder, but also working smarter. It's not about being a toady -- it's simply a question of being ready, willing, and able to be the best employee you can be.
Of course, there are some bosses who like being flattered, but let's assume most of them value workers for their work, not for their willingness to tell the people in charge how great they are. In many cases, you can impress your boss by following a few simple rules.
None of these are absolutes. You can stand out and impress you boss by basically adhering to these. For example, for the first point that follows, if you're generally the first in and last out, it will be noticed, but it's not a hard and fast rule where you should skip important life events just to be the last one in the office.
1. Be first in and last out
If you work a salaried job, an easy way to impress your boss is to get to work early and stay late. In doing this, however, it's important to make sure you're using the extra time in the office to be productive.
Simply hanging out until everyone leaves or getting in early so you can fool around on social media may create the right appearance, but it brings no actual value. Instead, use the extra time to get ahead, to know your job better, be more organized, and clear work off the pile that will make the lives of your boss and co-workers easier.
2. Never say no
When the boss or a peer asks you to do something, always be willing to give it a go. That doesn't mean you should take on a project you aren't qualified to do, but you should be willing to pitch in.
It's OK to say "I'd love to help you with that, but I may need some assistance on the financial projections," or whatever other reasonable qualification you need to make. It's not about your being able to do everything. Instead, it's about willingness to get things done and help your boss wherever he or she needs you.
3. Be a team player
While you want to stand out to your boss, you don't want to do so at the expense of your coworkers. Be willing to help anyone on the team and share credit liberally. In most cases, a rising tide raises all boats, and working to make everyone succeed will be noticed more than if you single yourself out.
If you work as part of the team, you may not always get the credit for your exact contributions, but you'll gain a reputation as someone who works well with others. Eventually, if you work in different groups and are an asset no matter whom you work with, the boss will notice.
4. Do what you say you're going to do
This may seem obvious, but the easiest way to stand out to the boss is for him or her to know you're reliable. In other words, if the boss gives you a task, he or she should never have to waste another second checking on you or asking if you'll hit your given deadline. Just doing that -- not being another source of concern for your boss -- should score you points and lead to better or more important assignments.
5. Make an effort to always improve
Every worker has strengths and weaknesses. Making an effort to get even better where you're strong and to shore up your weaknesses can go a long way toward impressing the boss. That may be as simple as studying up on an area of the business you're weak on during the early and late hours you're alone in the office.
In some cases, improvement can go above and beyond. Perhaps it could mean taking a class to learn a needed skill that none of your coworkers possesses, or it could involve getting extra training in an area where you're weak. Working to improve can also mean fixing things about yourself -- such as being more patient or trying to listen more to others.
Whatever your skills are, it's important to remember you can always get better. Working on constantly improving is likely to help you impress your boss while also making you a better co-worker, and even a better person.