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Special section 6 ways to get ahead in the office or get out

Climb the corporate ladder with your self-respect intact.

Manage up!

No one wants to be called a brown-noser. But part of getting a job done is building relationships with your boss. Work with your supervisor to make the most out of both of your careers.

"We know that managers need to manage down and give out the work to get done, but the workers need to manage up," says Michael Dobson, co-author of the book "Managing Up: 59 Ways to Build a Career-Advancing Relationship with Your Boss." "That's why we pay you and give you bonuses."

Dobson, of Palatine, Ill., defines "managing up" as building the kind of relationship with your supervisor that results in mutual success.

Definition of work: "In the real world, it's two imperfect people trying to get a job done." -- Michael Dobson

There are 10 ways to move up the ladder by giving your boss a boost.

10 ways to move up the ladder
1. What is your boss looking for?
2. What are your organization's goals?
3. Analyze the person.
4. Observe.
5. Talk to your boss.
6. Be a good-mouther.
7. Practice assertiveness.
8. Learn how to handle criticism.
9. Sell your ideas.
10. Build a wide set of relationships with people in the office.

1. What is your boss looking for? Developing a clear outline of your boss' goals and needs will help you get on the right track.

2. What are your organization's goals? Your business probably cares about more than the bottom line. Read the prospectus or employee handbook to get on the same page as those managing you. "If you're in tune with the goals of the organization, you'll reach a success where everyone prospers."

3. Analyze the person. If your boss is not a morning person, present new ideas in the afternoon. If it helps his understanding to see things in writing, write that idea down.

4. Observe. "Observation is simple and powerful." Pay attention to the cues and clues of the behavior of supervisors, and determine how you can help.

5. Talk to your boss. Ask how you can help make your manager successful, and in turn make yourself successful.

6. Be a good-mouther. Everyone knows what a bad-mouther is. Instead of knocking someone down, say something nice about a co-worker. "If you talk about someone behind their back, it's certain to get back to them," Dobson says. "So don't only tell someone they are doing a good job to their face, good-mouth them behind their back, too."

7. Practice assertiveness. "You may be unequal in the organizational hierarchy, but you're an equal human and professional. Be respectful of your position. Stand up, look the person in their eyes and give your opinion. (Bosses) like assertive people better than people who are scared of them."

8. Learn how to handle criticism. "Since we are imperfect, we will receive feedback. Know that when you get criticism, they are trying to help you."

9. Sell your ideas. "You're selling more than your idea. You're selling yourself. Think it through, and have your questions answered before they are asked."

10. Build a wide set of relationships with people in the office. People with a high opinion of you are more willing to support your ideas.

Before you implement your plan, Dobson suggests you make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Otherwise, you'll be the brownnose of the office, and it will get you nowhere.

"Get a sense of why you're doing it. Your boss possesses the power to fire you, and if that makes you too nervous, you're more likely to be a brownnoser," Dobson says. "But if you choose to believe you're assertive and a professional equal, you'll get a lot more done.

"Nobody will begrudge you for getting ahead as long as they are getting ahead with you."

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-- Updated: Feb. 26, 2007
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