What bosses really want

I currently work part-time as an employee and part-time as an employer, and consistently witness a growing disconnect between bosses and their subordinates. Industry trends have uncovered significant drifts away from workplace loyalty and the fight to climb the corporate ladder is competitive. We are now competing for our jobs on an international level with globalisation thrown in the mix, but it’s now also much more complicated to compete amongst each other, with promotions not always reflecting seniority or career success.

I appreciate that employees these days can get lost in what it is they should be focusing on – for example how to get that bonus, but it’s really very simple. Here are my top 10 tips to get positive recognition from your boss:

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1. Employers want results. Period.

If your boss doesn’t set you weekly goals, then set them and report them yourself. Be consistent and make your goals attainable but ensure you are challenged enough to excel. Contrary to any other belief, you are not paid to work hard nor paid for effort. You are paid for results. Spend less time making excuses and more time reporting results and working harder and longer until you achieve them.

“If you put in the work others aren’t prepared to do, you will gain things that others will NEVER have”. John Reyes

One last thing – excuses SUCK! Don’t make them. No matter how valid you think they are. If you haven’t achieved a goal, haven’t completed a task, your boss doesn’t want to hear any excuses just the words “I’m sorry – I will work harder, I will get it done” OR “I’m sorry – I will work my hardest to ensure this never happens again and will do everything in my power to remedy it”. If you are asked for the reasons, then by all means explain, but don’t offer up excuses if you’re not asked.

2. Show Initiative

If there’s a task that needs doing – do it, regardless whether anyone will notice you doing it, whether it’s your ‘job’ or not. It’s those little things that on the surface go unnoticed and unrecognised, but are valued and acknowledged eventually – when it counts.

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Nothing irritates senior management more than hearing “that’s Jenny’s responsibility from Accounts” – don’t say it, don’t think it – just do it! Remove the attitude that you are ‘above’ any duty.

“It is your attitude at the beginning of a task that determines success or failure”. Unknown

If you come up with an alternative process, give suggestions on how you think your workplace would gain higher productivity. Show initiative in researching it and present it to your boss. This behavior will impress any boss – just make sure the suggestions are valid and doesn’t come across as rear-end kissing – no one, not bosses or co-workers likes a ‘know it all’.

“Nothing is just handed to you but if you are determined and dedicated you can achieve anything you want”. Connor Horobin

3. Simple and clear communication (even when not asked)

Whether you think your boss is busy all the time or not – there’s a good chance they are.

Sometimes even the best managers forget to set targets or to check in with their team for updates. This can lead to anger and resentment, if for some reason something goes wrong and your boss has to ‘wear it’ for something they expected you to do.

My suggestion is to email your boss every Monday, stating simply your goals and tasks for the week, with a follow-up email before you leave each Friday with any notes on schedule changes, issues, reasons for targets being missed. These weekly status updates are vital for keeping strong communication lines open and is a great way to protect your own behind if something does go wrong, as you have been transparent about what it is you think you should be working on, and reduces the likelihood of things getting missed. (However, try to keep these email updates to 2 per week maximum, or else you run the risk of annoying your boss by flooding their already clogged emails with daily updates).

If you have a valid issue in your workplace that is unsettling you or causing you to be distracted, or negatively affecting your work, you must communicate this to your boss. They might have authority, but they are not mind readers. Be honest, address situations as they happen and accept decisions when they are made (even if you know it’s a bad one – they’re paid to ‘wear it’ not you).

“Have the courage to go beyond other people’s rules and expectations. I pray that you will live and write your own story and then be brave enough to communicate it authentically to others. People will be inspired by it, people will learn from it, and people will have the courage to change their own lives because of the example you have set”. Maria Shriver

4. Keep personal life to personal time as much as possible

While most bosses accept there will be a slight overlap between your social and working life, whether it is company policy or not, don’t use social media during work time, nor your work email for personal emails. Make the most of every minute at work to meet your targets and work out ways to get the most out of your job for you – leave the social status updates for home – such behavior will only undermine your position in the workplace.

“Hard work is the key to success, so work diligently on any project you undertake. If you truly want to be successful, be prepared to give up your leisure time and work past 5 pm and on weekends. Also, have faith in yourself. If you come up with a new idea that you believe in, don’t allow other people to discourage you from pursuing it”. Charles Lazarus

While I embolden such wisdom articulated by Mr. Lazarus, I also understand that work isn’t everything, and I urge anyone reading this article to ensure you aim for a ‘balanced’ work/leisure lifestyle

“No matter how busy you are, or how busy you think you are, the work will always be there tomorrow, but your friends might not be”. Unknown

However – your boss will never be happy to overhear a 20 minute phone call to your best friend about her recent break up – time and a place is all I’m saying.

5. Speak up if there’s a serious problem, but keep quiet if it’s something you could have dealt with yourself

The worst thing for a boss is to have a ‘situation’ which could have easily been avoided had they been alerted to the problem earlier. Deciding what is important enough to engage your boss, and what constitutes a situation that you could handle is a tough one, but it’s worth considering.

“Permanently stuck between ‘I really want to talk to you’ and ‘I don’t want to annoy you”. Unknown

Remember bosses (despite common theories) are usually busy people, find it very frustrating being pulled into petty disputes or having to solve minor issues all the time. It makes them question whether or not there is any point in employing you, and not just doing everything themselves. It’s a tough one, my suggestion is to review a situation by asking the following questions;

  1. What is the worst thing that could happen – and if that was to happen, when should I engage my boss.
  2. Are there any other co-workers I could discuss this with before I speak to the boss?
  3. Has this situation occurred previously – how was it handled then?
  4. What are the financial and organizational risks if this is handled badly?

Hopefully the answers to those questions should give you some guidance as to when it’s appropriate to engage your boss.

6. Work hard ALL the time, not just around review periods

Believe it or not, employers can easily spot the difference between motivation for a raise or promotion and general work ethic motivation. Understand this is easier for them to pick out than it is for you to conceal. Instead make sure you’re enjoying your work life, getting challenged in a positive way and are able to feel naturally motivated by what you are doing as opposed to doing it for financial or positional gain. This focus is beneficial to you and your standing within the company.

“Champions are not always the best at what they do. They’re the ones who work hardest & persevere when it was time to be counted”. T Jay Taylor

7. Don’t expect a raise – EARN IT

I feel there’s a belief system ingrained into GenY where raises and bonuses are expected on a yearly basis and not earned from blood, sweat and tears. I may be wrong here (and I’m sure I will be told as much if I am), but I feel the growing trend with the younger working generation is more focused on what the company can do for them and their careers rather than what they could do for the company.

My suggestion is to expect nothing. Don’t assume anything. Work hard on everything.

“Behind every successful entrepreneur are years of hard work, dedication and determination. Nothing comes without a price. To attain the desires of your heart, sacrifices need to be made. If you are not willing to do this, you can forget it. No pain no gain”. Justice Cabral

8. Be loyal

Sadly, I feel that company loyalty has long been replaced by the hire-and-fire squad.

Below is a quote I found on www.searchquotes.com and it resonated with me in its sad representation of the belief system of many employees in the workforce today;

I work for money and appreciation. If you want loyalty, hire a dog. Unknown

I don’t think us ‘workers’ are the sole reason behind this shift in thinking, I do believe that corporate greed,’mergers’ country wide and ‘layoffs’ have hampered this union of employee with employer. If you compare this shift with that in the trend of divorces, a similar pattern appears. It seems marriages are now easily replaced, partners can now be traded for the ‘latest model’ – the grass seems to be infinitely greener on the other side.

My dad has worked for his company since he was 21 when he arrived in Australia as part of the 10 pound pom movement. His company has since seen many ‘mergers’, and has changed its name more times than my dad has taken sick leave (which is like 7 times in his 40 years at the company!) Is my Dad’s loyalty to this company, with its ever-changing structure and bosses ever realised? Appreciated? Acknowledged? Sadly not, and at 61 I know for a fact he worries daily about his future in the company he has dedicated his life to. Very sad, but his story is not uncommon. So – what’s a fella/lass outta do? Well, sadly, when it comes to company loyalty to you, you’re not going to be promised much, but this shouldn’t mean you expect to be shunted and turfed out. It’s all about trust. If you communicate to your boss and you are willing to be loyal to them, chances are, they will be to you. It’s a matter of rebuilding a mutual trust to repair this important union, and I think it always pays for employees to take that first step.

9. Set aside differences with other colleagues and get along as much as possible

Just like at school, university, TAFE, college – and just as it was before that in the local sandpit, you’re never going to like or get along with everyone. We all know this, yet the workplace tends to be great breeding grounds for ‘office politics‘. Now while I know SOME bosses engage in such nonsense, many are annoyed at such petty political games, and your safest bet is to assume they are until they show you otherwise. No employer wants to have endless HR dispute resolution cases on their desk – it wastes time and MONEY! Make sure your name stays off the list of ‘troublemakers’ and as much as it’s nice to form friendships in the workplace, avoid ‘cliques’ and office bitching wherever possible.

Here’s a quote that I found amusing, but do not condone.

I wish ‘You idiot.’ was an appropriate way to end a work email. Unknown

And here’s one I found that resonates with my point here, that can also hold true for all aspects of human interaction;

“A lot of trouble will disappear if everyone learns to talk to each other instead of talking about each other”. Unknown

10. Have a smile on your face – be pleasant

Believe it or not, this makes a massive difference to the way your boss perceives you as an individual and to your significance in the work place. If you hate your job, are miserable, and scowl all the time, you need to look for another job ASAP. You spend far too much of your precious life at work to hate being there, make sure you’re enjoying what you do. We all have days where we have to drag ourselves to work, or daydream about still being in bed, or are desperate to leave, but more or less your job should give you satisfaction and personal reward a lot of the time. If it doesn’t, then it’s no one else’s fault but your own. Create your own destiny and the changes needed to create a new one. And if you DO happen to enjoy your job 80% of the time, then SMILE because a lot of people don’t!

“Monday reminds me of how important it is to choose a job you love. Life is for living, not for being miserable at work!” Unknown

“Don’t be over stressed by work, enjoy doing it. With this success will follow”. Joey Liew

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One reply on “What bosses really want

  • Quote Lover

    Just thought of sharing some work/job quotes that I like:
    “I think the person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money – has turned himself into a slave.”
    ~ Joseph Campbell

    “Recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours.”
    ~ Ronald Reagan

    More Work Quotes : http://noblequotes.com/topics/work

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