HR Insights, Talent Management

The Top 11 Ways to Impress Your Boss(es)

Top 11

When you see a “Top 10” list you can usually assume that either the writer is lazy, or he’s just read a book about how much people love “Top 10” lists. Can’t it be both?

I wrote this for an employee I was about to fire. I wanted a way to tell him why he was losing his job, but in a way that would help him understand what it takes to be successful.

The funny thing about this list is that you don’t have to do all, or even most, of them to be successful. I hope he got the message.

  1. Take the initiative. If you can do the right thing without being told, you lift a huge burden off your boss’s shoulders — and he’ll have more time for naps.
  2. Correctly complete the task you’re assigned. When the boss gives you something to do he doesn’t want to wonder if it’ll be done. He should know that it will.
  3. Don’t give your boss a problem she has to solve for you. She has other things to do. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
  4. Do more than you’re asked to do. This one trait will set you above 99 percent of everyone else. Too often we forget that our job is to help our employer succeed – and that our duties include finding something productive to do when there’s no task assigned. Clean something!
  5. Stop multitasking; you aren’t good at it. Study after study has proven that doing more than one thing at once lessens the quality of each thing you’re doing. If you are sure you’re the exception, look up “Dunning-Kruger Effect.”
  6. Figure it out. Stop pestering the boss for help. It’s your job, so figure out how to get it done. If you need his help, why does he need you?
  7. Ask questions. Notice that this is different from #6. The questions you should ask are ones like “Can I have this to you by tomorrow?” and “May I bring you my idea for making the clocks faster?” (Assuming you build clocks.) Avoid questions like “Will you type this for me, I’m kind of sleepy?” or “Can I bring my cats to work?”
  8. Have an opinion when asked. “When asked” is the important part. Your boss will want to know if his idea to round π to 3.2 is really okay. Tell him the truth, even if the truth is: “Um, probably not.”
  9. Learn. Unless you like where you are, you have to become more skilled. Learn your boss’s job.
  10. Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm covers a lot of faults. When we send the dog to fetch a stick and he comes back with a rock we forgive him because he’s excited. I’ll tell you right now that if my dog brought back a rock and was apathetic about it – I’d be pet shopping by suppertime.
  11. Be efficient. Thomas Edison used to have meetings in the other guy’s office. His reason: “It’s easier for me to leave his office than for him to leave mine.”
David Sneed is the owner of Colorado-based Alpine Fence Company and author of Everyone Has A Boss – A Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company. As a Marine, father, husband, entrepreneur, author, and teacher, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the personal benefits of a strong work ethic to entry-level employees. Contact him at David@EveryoneHasABoss.com.
  • http://twitter.com/dileeshus Diane Lee

    That’s inspired me to write a post on Top 11 ways Bosses Can Impress Their Staff!

    • Bebepp19

      Diane, I am all about Bosses impressing their staff, so we can be role models for them ( employees). I would love to see what you have in mind…. I can provide you with one .. ( in no special order)… Become competent at developing your staff, they will respect you.

  • David

    Diane, I’d like to see it when you have it ready.

  • Anonymous

    This is really a refreshing post!!! I definitely will implement these for my new position. 

  • http://twitter.com/DivingJon Jon Baker

    Top 10 lists, it can be both :)
    Great post, thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/jappreet.sethi Jappreet Sethi

    We tend to look at our bosses as super-human people who do not think, feel and react like we do. This is a mistake. In any given situation involving your boss, ask yourself if you would not have reacted in the same manner if the shoe were on the other foot.

    http://www.humanresourcesblog.in/2011/10/how-to-tackle-a-difficult-boss/

  • http://www.facebook.com/jappreet.sethi Jappreet Sethi

    A tactical suggestion at the right time and under the right circumstances can work wonders. To get noticed at work, such a suggestion should not be trite or superficial. It should have a genuine bearing on a situation. If your input is valid in the context of overall business goals, you will get noticed.

    http://www.humanresourcesblog.in/2011/07/how-to-get-yourself-noticed-at-work/

  • Dina Eledge

    Great article, David! We don’t multitask well – I’ve known that for years, but I kept reading things that said I should be able to do ten things at once. I love #10…I’m hoping the fact I do this well will help me when I occasionally commit #3. 

  • David

    Thanks to everyone for the comments.

  • CareerLady

    Great article…one exception…keep learning even if you like where you are!  Sometimes the company will change and if you don’t learn and grow, you may become more of a problem than a solution. 

    • David

      Agree