If you’ve ever had any aspirations of being plucked from your current position, given a pay raise and elevated to the dizzy new heights of promotion, then chances are you’re going need to figure out how to impress your boss.
This is because, like it or not, your manager will be responsible for your performance review and signing off on whether or not you’re suitable to make the step up. If you’re not in his or her good books, then it’s going to be a difficult process.
Luckily, there are many ways to paint a good picture of yourself without resorting to sucking up; we’ve listed a few of them here to help you get a head start. So, even if it’s your first day on the job, this is what you should be doing in the workplace to make your boss take notice…
1. Be consistent
Everybody has the tendency to perform in peaks and troughs; whether it be through personal circumstances outside the office or extenuating professional circumstances in it, a big win can sometimes be followed by mediocrity (or worse).
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are performing badly but it’s unlikely to set your boss’s pulse racing, either. The key is to maintain consistency and deliver a high standard of work every day so that you become a dependable and valuable member of the team that your manager can trust.
In time, this contribution will be recognised and when the higher-ups come looking for a steady pair of hands to guide the ship, you will be the first person in consideration.
2. Be mindful
Sometimes, when you are so focused on a project or a line of work, it can be easy to develop tunnel vision and lose sight of your team’s goals outside of your own contribution. This creates misalignment and it means that you won’t be as effective as your boss would like you to be.
However, by taking the time to understand the direction of your team and cultivating an awareness of the bigger picture, it ensures the work you produce as an individual adds extra value and makes your boss’s life much easier. It puts your perspective firmly in line with theirs and it allows you to understand how your own contribution has an impact.
This mindfulness will also serve you well when you eventually progress to a more senior position, making it an important concept to grasp.
3. Be punctual
A lot of people advise that in order to impress your boss, you should arrive early and stay late every day; this doesn’t always necessarily have the intended effect, though. Aside from giving the impression that your time management skills are poor and that you are incapable of handling your workload, it can also convey that your work-life balance is completely askew.
A good boss recognises that staying in the office until 8pm every night is not healthy. Instead, focus on being where you are supposed to be on time, keeping to deadlines and submitting work when you say (or are told) you’ll submit it. It’s fine to stay an extra hour or two when you’re a little behind or if there is a project cut-off, but when it comes to time and effort, bosses want quality, not quantity.
Remember: you might think that management is impressed by your dedication, but if the work isn’t of a high standard, then it – and your promotion prospects – are worthless…
4. Be productive
…Which ties into this next point. Regardless of the hours you’re putting in, there has to be something to show at the end of it – one of the easiest ways to impress your boss is by simply being good at what it is you’re paid to do.
This might sound blindingly obvious – and the bare minimum of what is expected – but it is the most basic building block of a relationship between a supervisor and an employee. If you are on top of your responsibilities, then your boss doesn’t have to worry about you; indeed, managing you becomes a pleasure rather than a burden.
This gives them a warm fuzzy feeling that you can be trusted and allows them to focus more on their own role; meanwhile, you can operate safely in the knowledge that you have their respect.
5. Be visible
Visibility doesn’t mean taking every opportunity you can to get ‘face time’ with the boss and laugh crudely at their jokes (unless you want the rest of your colleagues to despise you, that is); visibility is basically about avoiding ‘grey man’ status.
On a day to day basis, this means not getting lost in a sea of faces. In the long run, though, it includes making appearances at out-of-hours functions and office social get-togethers; occasions, essentially, that are designed for your boss to get to know you outside of the work environment.
If you don’t turn up to such events, make no mistake: your absence will definitely be noted. It suggests that you’re not much of a team player and it will definitely go against you. Besides, you don’t even have to stay for long; your boss will only remember that you were there – not when you left. It’s a small price to pay in the long term.
6. Be honest
Honesty is a key component in any workplace relationship. If there is a lack of openness, then it will build tension under the surface; it will also develop a culture where people are afraid to speak their mind, leading to the creation of a toxic work environment.
Therefore, it is important to demonstrate integrity. If you disagree with your boss, then you should say why; it shows you have the courage to speak up and the passion to develop your own ideas – no self-respecting boss wants to be surrounded by ‘yes’ men, after all. As long as you word your argument with tact and diplomacy – and can then accept if your ideas are shot down – then your manager will appreciate your integrity.
At the same time, they will notice how you treat your colleagues. If you’re constantly gossiping about who Karen in accounts is sleeping with, then it doesn’t suggest you’re a particularly trustworthy individual. Remember: the point of impressing your boss is so that they will promote you. Show them that you are worthy of the responsibility.
7. Be knowledgeable
If you’re going to speak up and risk disagreeing with your boss, then you certainly better know what you’re talking about. Having an opinion is one thing, but if it isn’t informed, then nobody – least of all management – is going to be interested.
This ties into having an awareness of the bigger picture. For example, if you’ve spotted something in your own work that could save the company money, do some research and find out if your proposed change could impact other departments first. Even if the subsequent idea isn’t taken on, your boss will be impressed not only that you are thinking outside the box, but that you performed a thorough investigation first.
If you are your team’s subject matter expert, such as the accountant or the IT lead, it is important to be adaptable, too. Your boss might be asking you to do something they don’t fully understand; rather than explaining why it can’t be done, try to utilise your expertise to create a solution.
8. Take initiative
A micromanaging boss might disagree completely, but for those of us lucky enough to be trusted with our work, being proactive is encouraged. No manager wants constant emails or calls asking for guidance and help when your queries could be solved by a colleague or a Google search first.
This applies to your general work, as well; for example, spotting a potential opportunity and following up on it will really help you to stand out as innovative and self-reliant. If you can do a good job of things with minimal supervision, then even better!
Volunteer for existing projects, too. Don’t take on more than you can chew – you want to be able to give it all your focus, remember – but even just by putting yourself forward, it suggests that you have ambition and leadership potential.
9. Have empathy
While no boss would turn their nose up at an employee who demonstrates the aptitudes and abilities on this list, the best way to impress your boss is simple: figure out how they work.
For example, your last boss may have been an autocrat and rewarded obedience; knocking on their door to suggest better ways of doing things may not have gone down well. But under a boss looking to promote free thinking and creative solutions, this approach would very much work in your favour. You might not agree with how your manager does things, but in order to impress them, you’re going to have to adapt to their style.
Unfortunately, it’s not always the case that the most suitable people get the recognition or the rewards that they deserve. What is guaranteed, though, is that individuals who know how to get ahead often do just that.
So, whether it’s getting the earlier bus to work, standing up in a meeting to say your piece or simply showing up to the office party when you’re invited, understand that everything has implications with your boss. Following a few of these guidelines might just tip the balance in your favour.
Do you agree with these ideas? Let us know in the comments below!