So you want to impress your manager without being a suck-up? Join the club. We got the low-down from Sherlyn, a manager with 10 years of experience, on the do’s and don’ts of making yourself look good in front of your boss.
1. Dress appropriately
Looks aren’t everything, but they definitely matter when it comes to how you present yourself at work. A polished appearance is a sign that you care about the details, and your boss will appreciate this. Be conscious, too, of what you wear depending on your industry. For example, if you work at a fashion company, don’t show up wearing a competitor brand.
2. Be early
Being on time is the new “late”. When employees arrive just on time, it can slow everything else down. There’s a settling-in period where you show up, say hello to colleagues, go to the bathroom, fix yourself a cup of coffee, surf the web… Suddenly, a half hour has gone by. Showing up early to take care of settling in means you’re actually ready to work when the clock hits 9am.
3. Speak with intention
Be direct instead of beating around the bush. Managers are busy people and they don’t have time to go back and forth. When you have something to say, plan what it is. Once you open your mouth, get to the point, make it relevant and make it quick.
4. Stay focused
You’d be surprised at the number of people who use office hours to complete non-work related tasks. The company pays you to do your job, so doing anything else (including surfing Instagram at your desk) is a big no-no, and doesn’t look good on you if you’re caught.
5. Follow up
If you submit a report or assisted on a project, follow up with how the work is coming along, even if it doesn’t require any more of your input. It shows that you valued your contribution and put effort into the work that you handed in.
6. Take initiative
Take the initiative to help out on new tasks – even those that don’t fall under your written job scope. This shows adaptability and a willingness to grow. “I once had a girl from the marketing department ask to sit in on finance meetings because she wanted to learn about how money was managed within the company and how the marketing department could impact the bottom line,” says Sherlyn.
7. Bring solutions, not just problems
If you present a problem, come prepared with several solutions. Even if your solutions aren’t put to use, it shows that you thought about the situation and took steps to try to fix, it rather than passing the problem off. Offering solutions is responsibility at its finest.
8. When it comes to important tasks, don’t fake it ‘til you make…a mistake
If you’re assigned something but don’t quite know how to get to the end goal, save everyone time and be honest that you don’t how the process works. Don’t go full steam ahead — your boss would much rather take 5 minutes explaining something, rather than spend five hours to reverse a mistake.
9. Remind your boss about why they hired you
No boss wants to feel as if they hired the wrong person for the job, so make sure your work is a constant reminder as to why they hired you in the first place. Think creatively and outside the box, and don’t be afraid to show that you have a different perspective.
10. Be adaptable
Bosses appreciate employees who have a diverse skill set (and not the kind that you lie about on your CV) and are ready to tackle anything that comes their way, even if it means occasionally staying late or stepping out of your comfort zone. Sherlyn says that her most valuable employees are the ones who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. As an example, planning a glamorous event is one thing, but actually working the party and attending to guests is an entirely different matter – bosses want an employee who can do both.