How to become your boss’s right hand man and get all the best opportunities

You’ve got the drive and goals in mind to become your boss’s right hand and climb the career ladder. You earn this place through hard work, not by sucking up.

To open the doors of opportunity, you must show you’re a valuable team player but also that you take initiative — with the approval of your boss on bigger goals, of course. Get all the best opportunities and become your boss’s right hand by following these tips.

1. Solve the tiny annoying problems

Being on the front lines enables you to see all the details that hinder office productivity. Some small things help workers get through the day, such as taking extra time to breathe outside or grabbing a cup of Joe. Other small things annoy everyone, but you move on and get the job done.

You know the copier that always breaks down? Look for an affordable, slightly newer model that won’t fail.

You know how long employees spend checking email all day long? The average employee wastes a total of 2.5 hours checking their email. If only everyone could get paid $50 to check their email during the work week.

This is an example of a process that can be automated or addressed through better email etiquette. Create email-free zones. Take advantage of automated replies, and program your own. Don’t CC and BCC unnecessarily.

Analyze the situation, create a proposal and bring it to the boss.

Do offer to book a mini-appointment with your boss if a decision involves the budget or other items over your
pay grade. It’s one thing to take care of the little things, and a whole other thing to overstep your bounds.

2. Let the other small stuff go

Office politics come with the professional playing field, so you have to pick your battles. Mostly, you grit your teeth and move on. Matters blow over because everyone has a job to do. Let the small stuff go.

In your early career, you may get asked to take on small tasks you’re over-qualified for, such as coffee runs, scheduling meetings or add-on tasks that take longer to finish than assumed. Your boss was also a cog in the machine at some point, so get over your ego issues — keep your nose turned down and focus. Get the little things done, so your boss can focus on bigger matters.

You should pitch projects you care about or ask for bigger responsibilities, but let the other small stuff go. A small assignment may look inconsequential, but details matter — your boss is watching.

3. Focus on active communication

The professional pleasantries of “How are you?” and “A good day to you, too, sir!” only get you so far in a work relationship before it’s another routine. Active communication in personal and task-oriented engagement matters on the job, and the two are intrinsically linked.

Aim to establish a working relationship beyond your daily to-do list. What are the priorities of your boss, and how can you help achieve the expected results? Find out their favorite sports team, and ask about their partner.

Don’t wait for annual performance reviews. Ask about how you’re doing, and schedule your own meeting with your boss to track your progress in line with your career goals. Sixty-percent of employees want regular feedback, and for those under age 30, the number increases to 72 percent. Over 75 percent of workers believe frequent feedback is necessary for success, and 45 percent of employees also crave feedback from peers and clients.

4. Manage yourself to success

While it’s thoughtful to check in, you should take the lead in your role to accomplish your tasks. Don’t let your boss mention an impending deadline more than once. Let your boss know when serious matters occur outside of your job that may affect your work performance or you need time off.

Manage your time to improve your productivity, performance and contributions, and you will manage yourself to success.

 5. Stay in the industry loop

Your boss stays busy and may not allocate time to keep up with industry changes and competitors. Keep reading and researching on the company’s behalf, and you’ll learn to think with the perspective of someone higher up. Fail fast to recover when you do fail, and help the business pivot with the changing times to stay relevant. State that you’d like to learn more about the changing industry and report back with a developmental summary. If something critical comes up, and you have an idea, speak up with timely information. Make sure what you’ve heard isn’t gossip.

These five tips will help you become your boss’s right hand and gain their trust as an intrinsic part of business operations. As you speak up with ideas and solve the little problems, your boss will reward you with all the best opportunities.

Your boss won’t hand you these opportunities on a silver platter without the hard work. You earn all the best opportunities by leading with your A-game, solving the little problems, letting needless concerns go, actively communicating and continuously learning.