For many, the line can be thin. Trying to impress your boss is on your to-do list. The thing is, you don’t want to appear insincere or a suckup in front of your colleagues.
Having an understanding of how to impress your boss can have a variety of benefits. For starters, you’ll be more likely to be assigned high-profile projects when you’re on the boss’s All-Star rooster. In addition, your voice will be heard more often. Furthermore, studies show that supervisors give higher ratings to likable employees.
Also, if your boss likes you, you won’t find yourself on the RIF list during layoffs.
What is the best way to keep your boss happy? Listed below are some practical things you can do to impress your boss.
1. Take the initiative.
Typically, employers value self-starters who are able to operate independently with little direction from their supervisors. Because of that, you’ve probably noticed “initiative” in many job ads. Despite this, taking the initiative remains one of the most underrated skills in the workplace.
But what exactly does it mean to take the initiative at work?
A person with initiative is able to assess a situation independently and act accordingly. Workplace initiative can take many forms, including volunteering for leadership roles, helping coworkers, and brainstorming ways to improve the company.
When you demonstrate initiative, leaders will feel more confident in your abilities to work independently and with others. You can also broaden your skills and increase your value as an employee by taking the initiative at work.
As producer, screenwriter, and author Shonda Rhimes said in an interview with Fast Company, she stays home in the morning so that her employees do not have to contact her. As well as that, she has a rule. Her office is not open to anyone with a problem unless a solution is presented.
“[P]eople try to come into my office with fires that need to be put out, many of which they could solve themselves if they did not have me in front of them,” she says. “Sometimes people don’t want to be empowered because they are afraid of being the person to make the decisions. I am lucky that I have people who’ve worked with me for ten years or more, [who’ve learned] that they could trust themselves to be the decision maker.”
The other aspect of initiative?
Exceeding expectations. As an example, going the extra mile to please a customer or putting in extra hours, so your team is able to meet a deadline.
Additionally, the best employees are proactive: “It’s about being active rather than passive and not letting things happen to you but rather creating your own path for the opportunity,” says Lifehack writer Jenny Marchal.
In Marchal’s opinion, the initiative is about:
- Owning your problems
- Concentrating on what you can control — rather than what you cannot.
- A consistent “think-ahead” attitude
In other words, when a project fails or a last-minute issue arises, how can you impress your boss? Solving the issue before they do. Besides saving you both time and money, you’ll also prove you’re ready for more challenges.
2. Know where you stand.
“First thing you need to do is really understand your role, Kevin Eikenberry, Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group leadership expert and co-author of From Bud to Boss – Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership and more, writes on his blog. “What do you expect of yourself, what does the organization expect of you, and what does your new boss expect of you?
“These expectations form the basis for your success,” he adds. A misunderstanding or misalignment of expectations is the fastest way to frustration and failure.”
3. Maintain a high level of ethical behavior.
It’s also helpful to practice proper workplace etiquette and maintain a strong work ethic, which your boss might need to tell you. This can be done by:
- Being early and present at work, as well as in meetings
- Spending time on goals-aligned tasks and meeting deadlines
- Being competent with your current responsibilities
- Maintaining work/life balance and preventing burnout
- Treat everyone with respect, including leaders and teammates
- Keep your credibility and integrity by being honest
- Play your part in the company’s success by putting it first
- The key to a strong work ethic is going the extra mile when possible, handling challenges gracefully, and working as a team.
4. Pick up the slack.
Traditional workplaces often offer plenty of opportunities to help with odd jobs to make the office and team run smoother.
Naturally, the items can be work-related. For example, helping a colleague complete a project when they’re ill. Or, they could be office-related, like keeping the doors locked and unlocked, refilling printer paper, and putting things where they belong.
You can also volunteer to run events, like organizing social events or leading a team meeting.
By doing things that aren’t necessarily your responsibilities, you show that you’re proactive and dedicated.
Trust me. There’s no way it’ll go unnoticed.
5. Own your mistakes.
Everybody makes mistakes at work. But how we handle them makes us stand out.
Be honest with yourself the next time you mess up at work rather than making excuses. Instead, go to your boss, admit your mistake, and discuss how you will fix it. In most cases, your manager will quickly forget your blunder and focus on your integrity and transparency.
6. Be responsive.
The most frustrating thing for a leader is sending an email or leaving a voicemail and not getting a response. It’s amazing how often employees don’t get back to me for hours at a time.
It’s always a priority of mine as a business owner to respond to every single communication, even if it’s just, “Hey, I got your message. I’ll get back to you right after my afternoon meeting.”
Personally, it’s nice to know I can count on you as a team member.
7. Use body language to your advantage.
Body language can make or break your success, says body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. You can develop positive business relationships, increase your influence, bond with your team, and present your ideas more confidently.
With that said, if you want to build a charismatic personal brand, use these ten tips on how to use body language:
Stand tall and take up space.
Keep your posture upright, your shoulders back, and your head held high to appear confident.
By widening your stance, relaxing your knees, and putting your weight on your lower body, you will appear more “solid” and confident. Those seated will see you as more powerful and assured if you stand. This impression is further enhanced by moving around.
Lower your vocal pitch.
High-pitched speakers are perceived to be less empathic, less powerful, and more nervous than low-pitched speakers. To relax your voice, Dr. Goman suggests saying, “Um hum, um hum, um hum.” This is especially useful before you get on an important phone call.
Try Power Priming.
Consider a past success that fills you with pride and confidence to display confidence. Embodying that genuine emotion will help you command a room or podium.
Maintain positive eye contact.
Take a moment to note the color of the eyes of your colleagues whenever you greet them.
Talk with your hands.
When we wave our hands, a part of the brain called Broca’s area, which is crucial to speech production, is active as well as when we talk. Since gesture is integral to speech, gesturing can enhance your thinking as you speak.
Use open gestures.
Credibility and honesty can be demonstrated by showing your hands, keeping your movements relaxed, and using open-arm gestures.
Try a steeple.
It’s no secret that politicians and executives use steeples to emphasize points. When you want to convey conviction and sincerity about a point you’re making, make a steeple with your hands; the tips of your fingers touch, but the palms are separated.
Reduce nervous gestures.
Our statements become less credible when we engage in any form of self-touching or nonverbal behavior, like fidgeting with our hands.
The human brain is wired to recognize smiles at a distance of 300 feet or the length of a football field. Besides stimulating your sense of well-being, smiling also conveys trustworthiness and approachability to those around you.
Perfect your handshake.
As the most powerful and primitive nonverbal cue, cultivating a great handshake is well worth the effort. You can instantly gain credibility with the right handshake and lose a job or promotion with the wrong handshake.
8. Expand your horizons as much as possible.
In The Muse, Celine Tarrant, founder of Smart Girls Sweat and co-founder of femBA, writes about how to handle a promotion (in about 90 days). According to her, “look for opportunities outside of your immediate role.”
“A great way to differentiate yourself in your new role is to brainstorm new opportunities. For example, if you’ve recently been promoted to account manager working on an established account, share suggestions you have for attracting new business,” she writes.
“Pitch your ideas to your manager and offer to lead new initiatives. Since the idea falls outside the scope of your job description, you’ll get brownie points for going the extra mile. It’s a surefire way to get noticed as someone who thinks creatively.”
9. Offer solutions, not problems.
In order to succeed in your career, you need to be able to solve problems. By this, I mean being able to identify and solve problems.
A problem can’t be resolved by simply pointing it out. There needs to be a solution provided. It’s paramount that those solutions are realistic and practical. If you show that you’re a creative thinker who’s always looking for ways to improve things, you’ll impress your boss.
In short, take advantage of any problem that arises at work as a chance to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. An employee who can identify issues and propose solutions that benefit the organization as a whole is in high demand by bosses.
10. Dress for success.
Surely you’ve heard this before. But you probably haven’t realized how important it is.
Simply put, your success depends on your clothing. Ultimately, looking professional will make people take you more seriously. And, in return, make them notice you more — This has been proven over and over again.
11. Keep your cool.
When conflicts occur at work, even the most even-tempered employee can lose his or her cool instantly. Your boss will appreciate your professionalism if you remain calm when others argue.
As such, keep your cool, listen to the other side, and aim for a compromise next time you find yourself in a power struggle or disagreement between teammates.
12. Be observant.
“Any time you onboard into a group dynamic, it’s wise to spend time getting the lay of the land,” Amy Jen Su, coauthor of Own the Room and managing partner and co-founder of Paravis Partners, tells the Harvard Business Review. “Understand how the team operates, how communication flows, how decisions get made, and where people’s hot buttons lie,” she writes.
She continues, “You eventually want to go from learner, to contributor, to leader.”