8 Ways to Impress Your Boss
As a lawyer in the workplace, I often tell people that I only have two responsibilities:
- Protect the company; and
- Make my supervisor’s job easier.
Protecting the company is what I was trained to do while in law school.
Making my supervisor’s job easier is not something I learned in school. Or if I did, I might have thought that it didn’t matter as much as the other really challenging stuff. So, I learned the hard way. On the job. I learned by making my supervisor’s job harder at first. Then I realized that it didn’t have to be that way. Work life is much more sweet when your boss is happy. When your boss is happy, they can help you be happy! Win-win!
Here’s a quick list of things that you do to impress your boss – today!
1. Communicate with them in the way that they prefer.
Are they morning people?
Or are they evening people?
Are they in the best mood right when they walk in?
Or are they relaxed after most of the lights are out?
Do they prefer 1 line emails or emails that would qualify as a thesis?
Do they like to have meetings?
Or have you pop in the door with questions?
Or have you give them a quick call?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions – ask them!
Recently, I asked my new boss how they preferred to be communicated with and was told they have NEVER been asked that before and yet were so grateful for the question. What a great way to embark on or improve an employee/boss relationship!
2. Make your boss look good.
Even if it feels like you are being a suck-up, make them look good. It’s not being a suck-up, it’s doing your job.
Example: Bring them an extra copy of documents they need for their meeting – highlight the parts that are relevant.
Even if this feels like it is below your pay grade – it isn’t. It will help them look good and help them be prepared for their job, which will truly impress them.
3. Get informal feedback.
At the right moment (not when they are racing to get to a 4 hour meeting), ask them how it’s going. Ask them what you can do to make their job easier. (See Tip #1)
It will make you look even better for asking and you might gain some valuable insights on how to improve your performance prior to your next formal feedback meeting – which could help in asking for a raise or a promotion.
4. Connect with them.
It’s a funny thing. Bosses are humans. With lives outside of work. Kind of like when we found out our elementary school teachers were actual people that had lives. Our bosses do, too!
So, ask them about their weekend. Find out about their interests. Maybe they like to cook – you could exchange recipes. Maybe they like to fish – you could exchange extra-secret fishing spots. Maybe they like donuts – you could exchange the best places to buy them.
You don’t have to be their best friend, but you can certainly connect with them. It makes the relationship more solid, especially when things get tough in the workplace.
5. Respect them.
You don’t have to like them.
But you have to respect them.
(Imagine me singing R-E-S-P-E-C-T! – and you’re welcome for putting that song in your head for the next 3 days….)
6. Help them.
Ask them if you can help them out with other projects, so long as your current workload has the capacity. Be willing to show initiative and that you are invested in your job. It helps everyone - you can learn something new (and add a new skill to your resume!) while helping out your boss (who is impressed by you!). Yes!!
7. Be the first to share the bad news.
If something isn’t going well, be sure to let your boss know sooner than later.
It will be better if it comes from you first. They don’t want to be surprised...especially from someone else if something has gone awry. (I love to be able to use words like “awry” every now and again!)
And while you are at it, take accountability for anything that wasn’t done correctly. And bring solutions. That will show them you are honest, humble and resourceful. These are great qualities that your boss will remember, as you navigate through this tough matter together.
8. Be realistic about timelines.*
Ask when things are due. If there is more than one thing that is due, ask your boss which is the priority. Let them triage your work, if you aren’t sure which is the priority.
Make sure you can get it done in the timeframe – and if you can’t, let your boss know right away that you may need an extension on the deadline.
Bosses can be such an amazing resource to your career. They can serve as mentors, advisors friends, recruiters and advocates. If you truly implement these simple tips, you can impress them in ways that will impact their career and your career, as well.
* This is a weakness of mine. I tend to set my own deadlines that are even sooner than expected by my boss. Then I have to rush around to get something done – because I set a deadline that is unrealistic. Please don’t make this your weakness, too!