5 Rules for Impressing Your Boss

May 24, 2011 9:51 AM

Never underestimate the importance of impressing your immediate superior at work. He or she is the person who’ll talk you up or down to upper management, assign you enriching or mundane work depending on what you seem to be capable of and ready for, recommend you for other opportunities within the organization and take you with them on their own way to the top.

Impressing a good boss is not an uphill climb – they want you to succeed. And here are five very simple rules that will definitely help you do so.

1. Don’t watch the clock

Playing it too much by the book indicates a lack of passion for your work, so you should, within reason, stay at the office until the tasks you’ve been assigned are done. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal life and spend every waking hour at the office. But if your boss asks you to complete a task that takes an extra hour or so, do not bolt at five. And don’t be a stickler for overtime hours either. Treat your work like a career, not a job, and your boss will probably be okay with you taking off the odd afternoon in return, or dictating your own schedule, because he or she will trust that you really care about getting things done.

You should also ask for ways to fill your time when you’re not busy. Or pitch projects that you think are enriching and will help you get ahead. Most of the time, a good boss is busier than you are, so at the very least there’ll be something you can take over from them that will relieve them and make you more valuable.

2. Never make them ask thrice

Failing to deliver on a hard deadline is a huge no-no, that much is obvious to everyone. But it’s those looser deadlines that really need to be minded. You’re not a robot – sometimes you’ll forget to do something your boss asked you to and they might need to remind you. While not favorable, it happens. But never, ever make them ask a third time. That goes for things they assign you as well as for things that you’ve volunteered to do.

Showing initiative is great but idea is nothing without execution. You’re better off not sharing ideas or suggesting projects than getting a reputation for being all talk. If you can’t say something you’re actually going to do, shhhh – say nothing.

If you feeling overwhelmed you should list the things you’ve got on your plate for your boss and ask him or her to re-shuffle the priorities according to what he or she wants done first. Otherwise, a safe approach is to stop everything to do the things your boss asks you to and then resume your normal workflow.

3. Don’t lie

Know this now: you are going to mess up. But hopefully you’ll have practiced rules #1 and #2 so your boss will already know that you’re dedicated to your job and always try your best. So if you do unintentionally mess up on something big or small, fess up because your boss will know if you’re lying. First of all, they’ve heard it all – perhaps because they’ve used the same little lies themselves in the past – but whether they did it or not, they will not like it coming from you. If you lose your boss’s trust, you’re in trouble. “I’m sorry, I can’t believe I did that/missed that/forgot that, what can I do to fix it?” is the winning answer every time.

Secondly, you’re all supposed to be in this together. So, if you make an error or omission or forget to do something, your boss’s job is to help you find a solution if you don’t already have one and also take care of damage control. He or she can actually protect you from any further repercussions. If you’re up front about things that go wrong it shows maturity, confidence and a winning “we can fix this” attitude.

4. Dress for Success

It shows you have respect for yourself and your place of work and will also help your boss feel like he or she can take you to meetings, put you in front of clients or send you to things that he or she can’t make, which could lead to some very interesting opportunities for you.

Not everyone is into fashion and you don’t have to be (unless you want to work in fashion), but you should always tend to your hair and wear business casual clothes. Even if your company allows jeans, which many do, that means a nice work top or a blazer and proper heels, boots or flats. No exercise pants, no UGGs, no flip flops, no spaghetti straps, no midriffs, no micro minis and certainly no shorts. Give your current wardrobe an instant work upgrade by investing in some versatile pieces that make outfits more polished and office-appropriate: a pair of black closed-toe heels, a blazer that can be worn with jeans, skirts and over dresses, a neutral cardigan or two, a nice bag and some inexpensive jewelry to dress your outfits up.

5. Attitude is Everything

Most of all, your boss wants to know that you want to be there. As a boss, there’s nothing worse than sensing someone’s disappointment or annoyance when you assign them work or having a person on your team who never volunteers to assume any of the tasks you put on the table in group meetings. If your boss takes pride in his or her work and wants your team to perform well and senses that you don’t care either way – they will find someone who does.

The hard truth is that although your bosses want you to do well, many will never confront you about the little things that disappoint them about your performance. Don’t show up for work and you’ll hear about it. But force them to chase after you for work,  put off any request that ever comes in at 4:45 and dress and act like you wish you had a different job or no job at all and chances are, your boss will note it and, if they don’t just get rid of you, will never push you forward in your career. But follow these rules, and it’ll be hard for your boss to not recognize and appreciate you and reward you with interesting work, mentorship and opportunity.

If you have any questions about your job or workplace, please share them in the comments below.


3 Responses to 5 Rules for Impressing Your Boss

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