Three ways to impress your boss

May 14 2009 by Dan Bobinski Print This Article

Whether you're working toward a raise, a promotion, or your work ethic just won't let you do otherwise, you probably aspire to hear the words "good job" from your boss. If that's you, one of the quickest ways to impress your boss is by making his or her life easier.

Although every supervisor is different and will be impressed by different actions, here are three things you can do that are likely to give any boss a favorable impression of you.

Pay Attention to Detail
There's a distinct difference between getting something done so an assignment can be checked off and doing something with an eye for detail. Think about getting your car washed. You can drive though a quick car wash to rinse off the dirt, or you can have your vehicle "detailed." If you've never had your vehicle detailed, the difference is amazing. It's hard to be anything else but impressed by how clean your car is.

Employees are much more valuable than cars, but human nature is what it is. All other things being equal, the average boss will be more impressed by an employee who pays attention to key details over someone who merely checks off a box and says "task complete."

Roger, a supervisor of five, recently told me about his frustrations with Ann, one of his employees.

"She a real go-getter and concerned about our company's success, but sometimes she gets working too fast and doesn't pay attention to detail. As a result, there have been times I've had to re-assign people for six or seven hours to fix a problem the occurred because of her oversights on very simple details. That gets expensive real fast."

No doubt Ann would impress Roger more if she paid more attention to detail.

Take Initiative
Think ahead and anticipate what must be done. Then, without waiting to be told, do it. Naturally, a balance must exist. You won't find many bosses impressed by employees who must be told what to do and when to do it every step of the way. However, you won't find too many bosses impressed by someone who thinks ahead too far and then creates problems by taking too much initiative. Communication, coordination, and cooperation are essential.

One example of an employee taking good initiative is Kristy, who recently received a promotion to a newly-created supervisory position. Kristy reports to the director of her department, who (in my opinion) was negligent by not creating a job description and training plan for Kristy's first weeks in her new position.

When Kristy's first day as a supervisory came, the director showed her around and made some customary introductions. Then he said "I guess from here you'll just need to ask me questions."

Again, this is horrible transition-management on the director's part, but to Kristy's credit, she was prepared. She had taken the initiative to think through myriad situations she might face, and had two pages of questions typed up and ready to go.

When the director said "you'll just need to ask me questions," Kristy opened a folder and produced them! This spawned a three-hour conversation, and Kristy got her questions answered. And yes, her boss was impressed.

Help Others Where Needed
I was going to title this section "Show Team Spirit," but I fear that term has become too cliché. In other words, the phrase has become so common that we simply read over it and fail to grasp its meaning anymore. Perhaps more practical and to the point is "help others where needed." Make no mistake, this attribute requires a bit of initiative (see above), but it's a different trait altogether.

It's one thing to be caring, but it's something more to be useful. Don't misunderstand, caring about others is vital prerequisite to team spirit. It's just that being useful is acting on that concern, and therefore adding value to the team's effort.

Something as simple as holding a door open for someone demonstrates the basic tone, but to really make an impact, we can take it much deeper. In other words, it's easy to notice when someone has their hands full, so holding a door for someone is a no-brainer. But if we get outside the focus of our own work we can often see opportunities to assist others and make a greater impact.

How we go about assisting others will vary depending on the person and the type of help we're offering, but the point is that the whole team benefits when we do it. And, when the boss sees that we're able to see a bigger picture and lend a hand outside of our normal responsibilities, it makes a good impression.

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About The Author

Dan Bobinski
Dan Bobinski

Daniel Bobinski teaches teams and individuals how to use emotional intelligence and how to create high impact training. He’s also a best-selling author, a popular speaker, and he loves helping teams and individuals achieve workplace excellence

Older Comments

Team is not overused in my opinion. I have a great team of people that I manage (about 6 clerks plus two assistants). We balance our department to the penny in cash, to three decimal places in shares, and cost - EVERY working day. If we don't, everyone stays until we do...this is our way. One winter day, we lost power and all of our network connections were down with it. The CEO said to send everyone home. We needed to balance and the only way to do it was by flashlight and running between our IT Department. No one would leave. We were huddled around a break room table next to the only natural light window writing out by hand and adding on a cellphone calculator. Everyone made sure that their work was in order and presented for balancing. The new department head was doing a walk through and found us. When he asked why we were still here, one of my newest employees said, 'well, duh, we're not balanced, we can't leave until we are.' (I'll never forget that!) - he was quite impressed actually with how TEAM was a given within my group - no one left or even suggested leaving until we knew we were all set. My boss continues to use that as an example of teamwork when addressing others or speaking about our department as a whole. Very gratifying!

Debora Rittenburg Midland, Michigan

I love the phrase! I'm sick of hearing the expression 'Team Spirit'. It almost sounds like a threat and that your less of a success if you're accused of not having it!......I'll be using 'Helping others' where needed from now says what it means...Thank You!

Deborah Boothroyd Leeds England others when needed.....that would okay unless that person is or was already being taken advantage of by people that take time-off at the last minute and leave the work load to one person and by other people that know when 'back-up' is needed and do not help because they do not 'feel like it' ......that is part if my pity story and why I do not have many friends at work.....I do not want to be taken advantage of any more...... it definitely causes burn-out.... when I talked to the boss about having more back-up for our area, he said that my expections were out of line (according to his budget, of course).....the sad thing is about my area, the lack of respect and teamwork affects the patients that have to wait for service .....more aggrevation in the healthcare helping others is a tough one if that person already has alot on the plate... :(

Linda Illlinois USA