WORKPLACE / NOV. 21, 2015
version 13, draft 13

5 Tasks Your Boss Assumes You Know How to Do

You’re a grown-up now, with a big boy (or big girl) job. And with that job comes the requirement to do certain tasks, assignments, duties, or even grunt work from time to time. In other words, your boss expects you to get stuff done. And though not all bosses are good in motivating their teams, the ones who are excellent at that still expect you to know how to do things they’ve never even taught you how to do. 

See Also: How to Handle Difficult Employees

From networking like a boss to handling simple tasks such as email, you’ll soon realize that working that job involves more than just kicking it with your co-workers, taking long lunches and adorning your cubicle with cool gadgets. 

When you’re out in the world with your grown-up pants on, here are some of the things that your boss is going to assume you know how to do.

1. Send a Professional Email

Sure, you’ve probably been sending emails to your friends since before you really knew how to write properly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a pro at sending a business email. A reminder though: Your boss is going to expect you to represent the company well when you send out correspondence, and that means leaving out the LOLs, the LMFAOs, and all the other acronyms... as well as the emoticons. That’s great for an email to friends when you’re planning a bachelor party, but not for an email to a client. 

Here’s a little review: Your boss will expect you to write a professional email subject line (which pertains to the topic at hand), a cordial greeting (such as Dear Ms. X), a coherent message that’s broken up into smaller paragraphs for easy reading, and a friendly signature line (such as "Warmly," "Sincerely, or otherwise). Too much can be misconstrued in written correspondence, and your boss is going to expect you to write carefully. 

Don’t always follow his or her lead, however  -bosses can be total hypocrites and may just send out emails (to you or your workmates) that break all of the above rules. Chances are though that they don’t make the same faux pas with clients.

2. Hustle for the Next Gig

Here’s another thing your boss is going to expect you to do in the spirit of being a decent representative of the company: networking. Whether it’s showing up at an industry function and passing your business card around to the people who can land your company the next big gig, or seeing any other opportunity as a way to tell people about the company and what it does, your boss is going to expect you to know how to get the word out. 

You don’t have to be a marketing person, either. Even if you’re a web coder who spends his days holed up in the company basement, barely interacting with anyone else, when you leave that dark cavern, your boss is going to want you to be a solid representative of the company. That means not smack-talking the boss, not bad-mouthing the clientele, and just generally acting like you work at the best company in the world when interacting with the general public.

Whether you’d much rather never talk about work outside work, it doesn’t really matter. Your boss expects you to be able to network and represent the company when he or she isn’t there.

3. Have Your Crap Together at Meetings

Hate business meetings? So does everyone else who ever worked a job. Even your boss, who seems to be most alive when surrounded by all the other underlings over who he or she has control, secretly despises all that wasted time in the conference room. 

But here’s the thing: Your boss is still going to expect you to come to that dreaded meeting prepared to regale the rest of the team with how great your work is, or to come with something valuable to add to the conversation. In other words, your boss expects you to actually give a crap about whatever the meeting is about and to come prepared to talk about it. You might be able to change the meeting structure when you’re the boss, but for now, just grin and bear it.

And it’s not just about coming prepared. Your boss expects you to know everything relevant to the topic of the meeting, be prepared to answer any questions your colleagues might ask, have an engaging presentation and all in all make them look good. So you better start preparing for meetings.

4. Dress Like a Big Kid

What you wear at the workplace can be more complicated than you might first think. But once again, you can probably take a cue from your boss about this one. If he or she dresses informally, in jeans and a t-shirt, for example, then it may be OK for you to do the same. If she or she has never been spotted in anything less than the most expensive Armani suit, then chances are you’ll be expected to dress up too. Your salary might not allow you to splurge on a single Armani suit -let alone a whole week’s worth of them- but you can at least make an attempt at wearing nice clothing. Your boss doesn’t want to be asked what you need to wear, either. He or she expects you to just know what the dress code is. Fortunately, all you have to do is look around the office to get a sense of what’s appropriate. And when in doubt, use the company handbook for more information.

5. His or Her Job When They Skip Out

Chances are your boss got to his or her lofty position through years of hard work. When they’re off on one of their many leisure trips (being the boss definitely has its perks), they may not even ask if you have the necessary tools to carry the torch while they’re gone. In fact, your boss may even be so inconsiderate as to not even tell you ahead of time that they’re leaving -expecting you to just automatically handle their daily duties while at the same time carrying on with your own. 

Yes, being the boss definitely has its perks  and one of them is being able to leave the office whenever they want, and to assume that you will be able to do what they do. Is it fair? Does it make you want to tattle to the boss’ boss, or to sabotage them or make them look bad? Sure go ahead and do it, but that leads to the final thing your boss expects you to know how to do: Cover their tracks when they mess up, miss a deadline, or otherwise make a mistake. As the underling, you also have to know how to make your boss look good in order to save all of your butts. This too has its flip side: When you’re the boss, you’ll get to have your underlings carry out your dirty work too.

See Also: Employee Engagement: What Keeps Employees Motivated [Infographic]

It might not be easy to always know what your boss expects of you, but don’t try to convince your boss about that fact. You can’t be a mind reader, but you can begin with these very simple, yet broad, ideas about how to be a good employee. From there, it’s all about spending time on the job and learning its quirks.

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