Control Boss

10 Secrets To Control Your Boss


Like anyone else, I’m sure there are times you’d like to control your boss. That way, you could ensure you’d get what you want (at the very least, never be considered for a layoff).

Related: How To Break Up With Your Boss Without Burning Bridges

Well good news, there are things you can do to build a relationship with your manager that will give you some power. Here are 10 tips to help you:

1. Make Your Boss’s Professional Goals Your Personal Agenda

A happy boss is one whose staff understands and supports what they are trying to accomplish. Every manager has a particular goal they want to achieve that they’ll be able to showcase as a professional accomplishment. Learn what your manager is trying to make happen and then do what you can to assist them.

2. Compliment Your Boss On His/Her Greatest Strengths

Managers like praise, too! Show them respect by pointing out what they are good at. Compliment them on how knowledgeable they are or how well they communicate with clients. When you praise them for specific skills actions, you are actually showing them you understand what it takes to be successful in their role. That recognition will not be forgotten!

3. Go The Extra Inch (Not Mile!) On Every Request

When your manager gives you a project or task, don’t just complete it on time and to specification, take it just a bit further by getting in done early or adding some finishing touches. This shows you want to please your manager, but you are mindful of not wasting your time going overboard.

4. Enthusiastically Volunteer For The Crappy Projects

Nothing says, “I’m a team player,” more than volunteering to do some aspect of the job that is no fun. Managers love people who are willing to take a headache off their plate and they NEVER forget the employee who saved them from having to force someone to do a job that wasn’t fun.

5. Be Your Boss’s “Vacation Salvation”

Managers often call in multiple times and end up working while on vacation. As soon as your boss announces he/she is taking time off, set a meeting and tell them you would love to cover for them. Offer to be the point person in the office for a daily call. Also offer to send an update e-mail at the end of every day they can check at their leisure.

When the manager calls in, reassure him/her that everything is going just fine and you have everything under control. Knowing there is someone there watching over things as they would makes their vacation enjoyable and their appreciation for you as their employee skyrocket.

6. Never Point Out A Problem Without A Solution To Go With It

Problems always arise that your manager needs to know about. Don’t be the barer of bad news without bringing some good news, too. Always present the problem and then suggest three options for solving it. Even if you don’t have the right solution, the fact you came prepared with ideas shows how much you want to help your boss solve it quickly and effectively.

Plus, if one of your ideas is the right idea, you’ll earn respect from your boss as someone who knows how to take charge and fix things. That’s the kind of person a manager likes to keep on their team.

7. Understand Your Role Is To Either Save And/Or Make Money

Given the current economy, there isn’t a manager out there who hasn’t had to consider who’d they would let go if required to make cuts. When they evaluate staff, it’s always based on who provides the most value. If you can’t more than justify your salary with the work you do, you are at risk. Make sure you boss clearly sees the correlation between your work and profitability for your department.

8. Avoid Surprising Your Boss At All Costs

Unexpected needs for time off, sudden problems you can’t handle, and out-of-the-blue requests for tools and resources are a real turn-off to managers. Like you, they hate surprises. Do whatever you can to avoid catching your boss off-guard. They’ll appreciate your consistency and respect greatly your reliability. Plus, on the rare occasion you do surprise them, they’ll remember it is the exception not the rule.

9. Remember Your Boss Is A Human Being

Like you, managers have bad days, problems with family, and financial woes. Just because they are the manager, make more money than you (sometimes they don’t!), or have some power, isn’t a reason to forget they have feelings.

Be sensitive to your boss when he/she is having an off-day and don’t be afraid to close the door and say, “I sense you are stressed today. Is there anything I can do?” While they probably will brush it off and say, “I’m fine,” they will not forget you cared enough to ask. Employees who care about their manager are employees a manager wants to keep around long-term.

10. Always Make Your Boss Feel Like The Boss

Your manager has the lead role. It comes with added responsibility and pressures that you do not have. Be mindful of how hard your boss’s job must be and make sure you articulate your respect for the job he/she has agreed to take on. While you may not like everything your boss does, and perhaps even you think you could do the job better, show your respect for the fact he/she is the one doing the job.

Even if your boss is the type that says he/she sees you as equals and wants you to feel like you have as much say as they do, the simple reality is it’s his/her reputation at stake if something goes wrong. So, be sure to say or do something on a regular basis that proves to your boss you appreciate his/her willingness to include you, but that you still know he/she is in charge.

Related Posts

What To Do When You Have A Bad Boss
How To Be The Employee Your Company Wants To Promote
6 Traits Of Bad Bosses


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. At the same time, if your boss doesn’t care about his people’s progression, this is a great way to be typecast into the crappiest positions, and any generally crappy duty the boss doesn’t want to do himself. Even if you do all the crappy projects and the great ones too, either way you’re getting a whole lot of crappiness :P

    4. Enthusiastically Volunteer For The Crappy Projects

    Nothing says, “I’m a team player,” more than volunteering to do some aspect of the job that is no fun. Managers love people who are willing to take a headache off their plate and they NEVER forget the employee who saved them from having to force someone to do a job that wasn’t fun.

    • That’s a good point, but if you can achieve great results on the most important projects, you’ll show your true value. If you don’t consider anything beneath you in addition to your solid performance, there won’t be anything within your control holding you back.

  2. Unfortunately I have a boss of the kind where you go the extra inch, mile, whateever, you’re just setting yourself up for criticism and belittlement.

    Like that time a few months ago where I had been off in the week because I was ill, but came in on Sunday to finish work on a project? Yeah, it was great said the boss, but next time make sure you read the badly written office manual (written by herself) and do EXACTLY as it says when it comes to uploading files.

    Just imagine this coming across in the most snotty, condescending, petty manner and yes, you’ll have my boss.

    Go the extra inch, why bother, you’ll just get extra grief for it, and find your boss taking all the credit for it in any case.

    (PS while that sounds a little extreme, not the first incident of that kind with that person, and for all I’ve done that is positive all I’ve got is criticism with any credit taken by herself; on the bright side I’m leaving to find a better job elsewhere because of it)

  3. Not sure why people have decided to use the comments forum to pick apart the writing, grammar, etc. of this article? Even if their points are valid, i.e., reduces credibility of the author for them, etc., why point that out in such a public and demeaning way? It kind of reduced *their* credibility in turn, if they don’t know how to respectfully disagree or offer constructive feedback. If those people posting those nasty comments are bosses, I wonder if they criticize their employees in group settings too…

    That said, I don’t agree with the title of the article as I think it sounds manipulative. I think “10 Ways To Partner With Your Boss” or something similar might be more appropriate, because I took this to be in the spirit of helping your boss to do his or her job through your own work, actions, and words.

    Granted, as some posters have pointed out, there are indeed bosses who don’t need any more ego-stroking than they already give themselves, but as one of those bosses who was NOT that way, I always found it nice when one of my employees would say “You know, I really appreciate how [flexible, understanding, etc.] you’be been with me with my [such and such] situation; I know you are really bending over backwards and I just wanted you to know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed.” As direct reports, we love to hear that kind of positive praise from our bosses; why wouldn’t it work that way the other way around?

    And let’s not forget that egos are at all levels. There are direct reports out there whose egos will have them think that some of these points represent bowing down, or giving in, or kissing butt. But I read this as being in the spirit of creating a partnership. And unless you’re really high on the totem pole, every boss is also a direct report and answers to someone else.

    From the direct report side, I’ve had many bosses – some of them great bosses with whom I felt a true partnership and collaborative, trusting, relationship. I’ve done most of these things when working with them. It wasn’t because I wanted (or needed) to kiss their butts, and it wasn’t because I had any kind of agenda. I just felt it was the right thing to do, and the respect that we had for each other was mutual. I think if you go into it with the right attitude, and you have a good, well-meaning boss, these things won’t seem quite so threatening to start doing (or they may just begin to happen on their own).

  4. Concentrate less on the boss !
    Aim at achieving your objectives and milestones. Work on yourself by addressing the points that came up in the
    face to face discussion during your annual appraisal.

  5. I think we don’t need to do anything just to please someone, do your work honestly and be natural.It is really very difficult to live a life according to others and you never know what the other person likes, some bosses likes the honest person and some want to be pleased.If your boss expects from you out of the way than it is very difficult to satisfy him every time.

  6. In my opinion, this is not How to control your boss but how to loose your dignity and be a slave for your boss.
    Feels like this article was wrote by a “boss” for his employees about how to obey him and kiss his a** more.

  7. First of all, a good article on how to kiss a.. for employees. Don’t be an a.. kisser, be brave, be honest, take challenges, give your best… If still failing, please do check on yourself then the person on charge upon you, then finally check on your position…
    Second, if you are writing about professional life use good grammar and correct language… English efficiency 101, there is no “s” after apostrophe following a word that ends with an “s”; such as in the word “boss”. Correct way is “boss’ something” NOT “boss’s something”!
    Finally, how much i can actually care about an article written by someone whose English is worse than mine which in this case is my second language…?

  8. Very useful article. However, the title might turn some people off as it sounds like you are giving us advice to do something evil. In my humble opinion, better title for this wonderful article would be, “How to have a great relationship with your supervisor.”

  9. These 10 points are good-2-go. But While puting them to use, trying to imressing your boss, you can get knocked by your colleagues which can also bring in some problems to you. jealousy, hatred etc can get in your way mostly in africa. Please you apply wisdom and at the same time be prayerful. For favour come’s from GOD!!

    • You’re right. You do have to be cognizant of how you appear to the people you work with, but at the same time, there will almost always be at least one closed-minded person that you can’t reasonably deal with.

  10. As with any personal improvement or career guidance information, you have to sift through and adapt or apply the pieces that can help you. If you can apply one item from a list of ten, the author has not failed. If there was a magical list that worked for all people all of the time, I doubt you would see it shared for free.
    I was a manager for 15 years before making a career change, so I have experience from both sides. Due to the wide variety of personalities among people, I know it’s a constant juggling act to be successful, whether manager or employee.
    I am reminded of the Pogo cartoon that states; “We have met the enemy, and he is us”. The only person holding someone back from success in their current situation is themselves – whether through their job or career. If it’s intolerable, change the approach to it – change employer/manager or career.
    And remember – the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, but it takes a lot of fertilizer to make it look that way. If you jump the fence, be aware of the cowpies. :)

    • Paul,

      That’s a very poignant post! We hope that our readers can learn from it to make sure they get as much out of our site as they can. After all, our goal is to help everyone get their dream job, so encouraging action in our users is the way to go. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. whoever disagree with the article and consider the people follow these steps slaves, or yes people,
    or staff at work with no personality trying only to please the boss, or dogs! whoever think that these steps to be followed only when the person start his career at early ages, needs to remember the step number 9: “the boss is human being”, so stop looking at the article from an employee point of view, and put your self (as a human being) in the boss place! you will find out that these steps (excluding number 2 for many managers) are exactly what you are looking for, and when you become the Boss, create your own advises based on your experience please (as a manager) and don’t influence others is you don’t have the experience being a boss..
    Number 4 & 6 & 9 are the best advises, while number 2 will not work in many cases..

  12. It’s not difficult to find the thread of disgust for bosses in many of these posts. I have never nor do I ever want to be a boss. It’s a tough job packed with responsibility and not everyone can do it. Are there bad ones? Absolutely, but there are also bad employees. While I have had some rough times during my 40+ years of working I have also had some great times. The best advice I can give everyone is to follow the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you” and remember, “Life is not always fair”. “If you can’t stand the fire get out of the kitchen:. Sorry, I just had to say that.! After all, IT’S TRUE! I didn’t say it was easy but IT’S TRUE!

  13. Apart from point #6 and #9, none of the others, in my opinion, qualify in creating or maintaining a cordial work relationship with your boss. All other points mentioned would work well if and only if an employee believes in working up the ladder by sheer flattery.

  14. Awful article , requires mind numbing submission and stupidity . I’m not saying it wont work , many managers love this Brown nosing approach , sad actually that this type of approach is still being recommended in the 21st Century.

  15. The last thing my boss needs right now is another ego boost. She’s already out of control and arrogant. Not sure what this guy means by “control” but I must respectfully disagree with his statements here.

  16. Doing these things proves that you don’t have any control over your boss, but rather you are under their control and must act like a mouse and work harder. The article teaches how to be a good slave. This is good advice for when you first start a new job, doing your early career years. If you keep following this advice you will be walked on and not earn respect, but just be known as a work horse. People need to balance working hard with also influencing, persuading, earning respect and gaining a following as a thought leader.

  17. Christina Giordani Langeland

    I believe there are some very important issues in this article from J.T. O´Donnell. I see the benefits of doing your boss more pleased and safe with these strategies. However there is something wrong in being the one who is in charge of “taking care” of the other part in the relationship. It ought to be both-ways. When a leader (boss) says something to an employee it weighs so much more and many leaders are not aware of that. It ought to be be the other way around to; that the leader sees the importance in relational and dialogical focus on his/her leadership.

  18. Its hard to take this seriously when the author makes grammatical errors an 8th grader wouldn’t. Note this: “Manager’s often call in multiple times and end up…” The plural form of manager does not have an apostrophe. Author’s credibility shot.

    • Yes, a few grammatical mistakes in an article negates all of its wisdom, just as a few mistakes throughout life negate all of ones successes.

      This guy’s a hell of an optimist…

    • Not only are there punctuation errors, but the writer also repeatedly refers to a singular “manager” with a plural “they.” The overall advice may have merit, but the impression is that the writer is either a sloppy proofreader or grammatically challenged.
      I found this post because LinkedIn said the author is “an influencer.” I note that LinkedIn doesn’t say whether that is a good influence….or a bad one.

      • Never heard of replacing ‘he or she’ with they? Maybe time to go back and do some post-elementary grammar ;-) To tell the truth, I would prefer s/he, but I am too small to influence language development.

      • Really, who cares about their spelling and grammar? I ask this as someone who has been a professional writer and editor for a large part of my career. Spelling and grammar skills have nothing to do with whether the content is valuable. I’ve read brilliant content badly written and some really stupid stuff written with impeccable grammar and spelling. The average reader doesn’t have a particularly strong grasp of grammar or punctuation, so it doesn’t matter anyway. Plus you are wildly out of touch with the grammar and spelling skills of the average 8ith grader.
        Have you read anything written by the average college student in the past decade?

        • “Who cares about spelling and grammar?” Thankfully, many people still care, Jeo. That kind of attention to detail (or lack thereof) speaks volumes about the credibility of the author and the information. I don’t expect a literary masterpiece, but I do expect basic competence in the writers I hire. Case in point, #6: … the barer of bad news… ? That’s just sad. (And, inadvertently funny.)

  19. personally I would suggest a more zen attitude.
    when you are alone on the sea with your raft you might curse the rainstorms, waves or too much sun.
    In life is more or less the same.
    The only difference is that someone might reply in an undesired manner, if the language is transmitting an undesired message.
    So you need to learn to use your mouth and actions as paddle and raft and hands.
    once you see them that way everything is far less emotional.
    but you need to learn to be a good sailor.
    Then you’ll curse less and be upset less and enjoy every moment as the moment that you have to sail where your heart or/and mind drives you.
    enjoy life is too short to waste it with “why is it not as I wanted it?” if the answer doesn’t help you.
    because nature is unforgiving with those that do not act at the right time.

  20. The only thing missing is “always tell truth to power”. You also have to be able to call it like you see it – or you are of no use to that boss you’re trying to impress.

  21. Well said… a realistic & practical approach. Though many would find it as if they are asked to be slave to BOSS but this is the most innermost wish of every Boss (including us). Let’s admit :-)

  22. All except Number 2 are ok, I have been a boss for 37 years and don’t think Number 2 fits in the list.
    Working as a team needs to go that extra mile sometimes.
    My View is that the boss needs to nurture his team so that his succession is also taken care.
    Lead the team and great more leaders in the team.
    All the points are taken care of if the above is done.

  23. It is a very helpful information, I am agreeing Mike with his point of view, sometimes, it’s very difficult to implement these tips with difficult irrational and illogical manager who monitor issues only on his part and insists on his/her decisions, even if they are not correct and oriented them toward wrong direction; it’s good to follow and implement these great tips and I am sure some of you had experienced them through their career, from my side; I will make sure to keep them in my mind and execute them in the future according to the nature of the manager, of course.

  24. This sounds like brown nosing , I understand that it may work , but you may also be left with no credibility and even less confidence

  25. I was led to this article after reading another article that you posted on Linkedin about “Job Crush”. This is so on point. As, a manager who has learned how to “Manage Up” these 10 secrets are a must have to excel in your workplace. I plan to use this article going forward to help those I mentor who have “difficult” bosses.
    Thanks so much for this resource.

  26. I was led to this article after reading another article that you posted on Linkedin about “Job Crush”. This is so on point. As, a manager who has learned how to “Manage Up” these 10 secrets are a must have to excel in your workplace. I plan to use this article going forward to help those I mentor who have “difficult” bosses.

    Thanks so much for this resource.

  27. I have applied many of these in the past with success. I am in a position where number 3 should happen frequently. I develop spreadsheet and database applications. My boss is always looking for ways to streamline any part of the business. If I can put something in those applications that he didn’t think of and he notices I can see a little gleam in his eyes that let’s me know he appreciates me thinking about it.

  28. These are all great points. However, what of the poor employee who does all of these (and a little bit more) for the boss and gets not a measure of appreciation / reward in return? These kinds of “people managers” are legion in real life!

  29. I can’t stress enough how important it is to ALWAYS bring solutions if you plan to bring up a problem. I could not agree more. Otherwise you’re just whining.

  30. Appreciate your thoughts.
    However, looks like instead of excelling in ones area thou work.
    These tips focus more on pleasing the boss OR ssob?
    Actual question, still remains the same?
    “AM I MONEY” ?
    Answer is, yes I am money only if my boss permits.
    Apologies for being rude.
    But if one deserves something, no boss, or his boss’s boss, can stop.

  31. Its a great article but i have noticed that all one has to do is do their job and be themselves. I guess even bosses res[pect people who know themselves and don’t try too hard to please them but do their Jod as required. It has worked for me!

  32. Your article is very true but it automatically applies when your Boss shows confidence on you otherwise in some situations Boss feels insecurity of his job .

  33. I really find it tough to respect any manager who uses bullying tactics to meet outcomes at the expense of the emotional health and well being of other people. In fact, this is what brings me to anger. How can I take orders from people I don’t respect? Often I get a manager who has no tact, no respect for others, humiliates employees in front of other co-workers and generally talks condescendingly to other people?
    I have never had a decent manager in my life. They have all been complete idiots as co-workers. For a business to succeed, they need to respect their employees just as much as bending over backwards for their customers. If everyone is happy, the company can better reach it’s goals and targets. But most managers I have had, don’t know a damn thing about managing or treating people. Just because they were a good kiss a– doesn’t mean they make a great manager.

    • you “have never had a decent manger in your life”? Do you think perhaps the problem could lie within yourself?

      • @Rebecca,
        Jaysus might have not worked for a good company and accepted any coming job for survival reasons. This doesn’t mean it was his fault, rather he didn’t get a real chance.

    • with all due respect, your comment reminds me of the old story who would turn everything to blue whatever he touched. He later found out the tip of his finger had paint on it. Sometimes, we loose our ability to put ourselves in other person’s shoes and thats what starts one problem after another and we end up dealing with “jerks” after “jerks” while there is miniscule tweaking we need to do in ourselves.

      But yes, i agree sometimes the swathe of idiots around us seems too overwhelming.

    • Jaysus,

      I understand your frustration. There are times when a manager is in the position he or she is in because of their skillset and not necessarily their people skills. I have found through experience that engineers as operations managers tend to fit this bill well. That is not to say that they cannot learn people skills, but developing the team is a hard sell for some. Helping these types takes a lot of effort and recognition from their bosses that there is a problem.

      I have been in your position and I have realized that ultimately, you must decide if you are willing to weather the storm or seek opportunities elsewhere. You have the choice to try and work with your boss and team in at least attempting to make a better workplace, understanding that there may need to be a transformation in how you view things as well. I have learned that positivity is not going to fix everything, but it does contribute to a better workplace long-term and others see those that turn a frustrating experience into a positive learning tool.

    • I agree with Rebecca. Most of the time when we have a “bad boss” the problem is us, not them. It’s a good thing you don’t have a picture or full name on your post because this statement can ruin your career my friend. I know I wouldn’t hire you with an attitude like that. I have had challenging bosses in the past, but it isn’t anything self-reflection didn’t fix.

  34. I have tried all of the above with my boss’s and bend over backwards for them, unfortunately they do back stab and remain in their clicky environment.. you ask if they want any help all I get is a “talk to the hand” in my face, I like my job but they are making things difficult. No-one is perfect and they EXPECT perfection everyday! I work from 4am till 4pm 4-5 days per week and expecting perfection is by far not easy, especially if your make-up, hair or uniform is not immaculate for the whole 12 hours you will get 25% taken from your monthly pay. I could go on about this but I do not want to bore someone to tears reading this. Just hard to find another job nowadays specially when there are not enough hours in the day, and I am slowly getting depressed.

  35. Someone wrote “be a dog” and I agree with that statement. Of course if you are a paid professorial you want to make sure you boss’s goals is implemented because isn’t that why you are there in the first place?

    Also be careful not to become a “yes” person because it’s a matter of time before that mentality dies.

    • I am the boss. I do not want lap dogs. I do not like suggestion number two in this list. However I love 4. Enthusiastically Volunteer For The Crappy Projects. I once had an employee who was decidedly below average. I would have cut his hours but he arrived every morning and cleaned the place. I never asked him to do it he just did it. I never said anything but thank you to him.

      For those of you complaining. Remember we call it work and pay you to do it. If you were worth more someone else would be offering you work. My employees are not my equals. I have put $100,000 into this business. I do appreciate suggestions, but I will decide what is best.

      • Kimberley, “we call it work, and pay you to do it….my employees are not my equals”??? If those are your sentiments, they are better left unspoken. Let me guess – you inherited a failing restaurant?? Your customers likely sense your ill-disguised seniority complex and don’t want to be there either…

    • No, I’m not there to make sure my boss’s goals are implemented. My boss is not my employer; the company is my employer, and I am there to implement its goals. Big surprise, not all bosses are there to do the same.

  36. Thanks for an excellent list, which includes some ideas that are not necessarily obvious. “Insider” information about what hiring managers want/need/think is some of the most valuable to job seekers.

  37. Excellent article, JT! Too often employees get caught in our their perspective on Corporate and forget what the boss is experiencing.  By taking advantage of the some of the strategies you present, employees can get an edge in their career…and some added job security too.

  38. Actually, they aren’t hard to implement at all. As I pointed out below. It’s not about doing all 10 at once. Pick 1-2 that you think would pleasantly surprise your boss and see what happens. Managers are pretty stressed out these days, so any gesture of support like the ones outlined here usually get noticed. If not, then maybe it is time to look for a new job. At which point, trying these proved to you that it was time to move on.

    • Right on! Some wouldn’t like number 2, but I think it is good if you have already established a good working relationship with your boss. After all, your boss would be able to determine if you’re just trying to be a kiss a** or if you’re genuinely appreciative of his work. If as a subordinate you can be generous with praises without wanting anything in return, then all the more you can be appreciative of your direct reports’ achievements.

    • Agreed Mike. If your boss can’t be pleased, not point pounding your head against a brick wall. That being said, I’m amazed today at how many employees don’t try even 1 or 2 of the ideas above. Nobody says you need to do all 10, but what if you tried one that truly surprised your manager? That experience alone can help strengthen your relationship with your boss.

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