- Impressing your boss may feel like trying to hit a moving target, but there are steps you can take to get there no matter what your field.
- Author Nicole Rollender draws on her 10 years of experience as a manager in publishing houses for this list of the five best ways to impress your boss.
- From generating ideas to simply being responsive, here’s how you can stand out from your colleagues.
Early in my career in publishing, when I worked as an editorial assistant, a staff writer, a special projects editor, and then a managing editor, I always tried to read my bosses. How can I impress her? How can I be sure I’ll get a raise?
The tables turned 10 years ago when I took on an executive director role where I managed lots of people.
Here are five things I learned that you can do to really impress your boss and stand out from the rest of the team.
1. Keep track of everything you’re working on.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given an employee an assignment and then followed up a week later only to hear, “I totally forgot to do that. I just didn’t write it down.”
As an executive managing multiple departments and lots of employees, that’s the last thing I wanted to hear. Whenever you meet with your boss or get an assignment, always note it in your online calendar with the due dates, especially if there are multiple parts. When your boss asks you for a status update, you’re prepared.
Even better, provide your boss with a status update before they check in with you. Employees who did that always impressed me.
2. Be responsive.
There’s nothing worse to a manager than sending her employee an email or leaving a voicemail and hearing radio silence. I can’t tell you how often an employee wouldn’t get back to me at all for several hours.
As an executive (and now a business owner), I always make it a point to respond to every single communication I receive, even if it’s a simple, “Hey, I received your message. I’ll get this back to you right after lunch.”
Being responsive makes you a team member I know I can rely on.
3. Work smarter, not harder.
You’ve probably heard this workplace cliché before. However, it really is true. It’s not the number of hours you work that your boss cares about – it’s the thoughtfulness you put into executing a project.
One of my early managers gave me some great feedback. “You rush into things because you think that if you tackle the project head-on and get it done ASAP, I’m going to be more impressed,” he said. “However, I’d be more impressed if you sat back and thought about all the possibilities for this project, and then devised a well-thought-out plan we could review together.”
Build thinking time into your project. That upfront time will shave hours off your working time later.
The number of hours you log isn’t what gets you the promotion. The smart end product is.
4. Don’t share everything with your boss.
We’re so used to jumping on Facebook, saying, “OMG, I had the worst day ever” or sharing way too many personal details about our lives. Unfortunately, many employees overshare with their managers and coworkers.
It’s totally fine to talk about your quirky hobby (yes to ghost hunting or glamping). However, if you’re severely hungover, that may not be the story to share. One employee would tell me how she had thrown up from too much partying the night before.
Everyone has stuff going on in their personal lives, but you need to use a filter with your boss. If you’re going to be late for work, keep your explanation as simple as possible. Say, “I had car trouble this morning,” rather than explaining how you don’t have any money and you ran out of gas.
Is what you’re about to share something you’d want repeated in front of the entire company? If not, don’t mention it.
5. Be an idea person.
The employees who impressed me most always thought ahead. They looked at the projects they were working on and came up with new ways to expand them.
This is a great way to get promoted. I often earmarked employees who came to me and said, “I have five new ideas I think would be fantastic for our products and our department and our company,” for promotion plans.
At their yearly review, I’d say, “Where do you want to be in a year? Can you accomplish these five things in the next six months to show that you’re ready to move to the next level?”
Every time an employee met these goals, they’d receive their promotion: a higher job title and a bigger paycheck.
Good managers will look at your strengths and help you develop and leverage them to better serve your career and the company.
The good news is that hitting these five points is actually really easy, and putting them all into practice will get your name high on your manager’s “to promote” list.
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