Work

10 Habits Bosses Love

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By Margaret Steen

Every boss wants employees who do their jobs well. But even among highly competent employees, practicing certain habits can really make you distinguish yourself. Here are 10 tips for making sure you’re on the boss’s A-list:

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Especially at the beginning of your relationship — that is, when either you or the boss is new to the job — err on the side of giving your boss too much information and asking too many questions.

“There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” says Marianne Adoradio, a Silicon Valley recruiter and career counselor. “Look at it as information gathering.”

Don’t keep up the constant stream of communication unless your boss likes it, though. It’s best to ask directly whether you’re giving the boss enough information or too much.

Acknowledge What the Boss Says

Bosses appreciate “responsive listening,” says John Farner, principal of Russell Employee Management Consulting. When your boss asks you to do something or suggests ways for you to improve your work, let her know you heard.

Collaborate

When your boss has a new idea, respond to it in a constructive way instead of throwing up roadblocks.

“Be willing to brainstorm ways to get something done,” says Michael Beasley, principal of Career-Crossings and a leadership and career development coach.

Build Relationships

You’ll make your boss look good if you establish a good rapport with your department’s customers, whether they’re inside the company or outside. Bring back what you learn — about ways to offer better customer service, for example — to your boss. This is also helpful for your own career development.

“Everybody wins in the long run,” Adoradio says.

Understand How You Fit In

Is your boss detail-oriented, or someone who keeps his head in the clouds?

“The boss’s personality is just incredibly important,” says Norm Meshriy, a career counselor and principal of Career Insights.

Equally important is understanding what your boss wants in an employee. It may be, for example, that a boss who is detail-oriented will expect his employees to be as well. But a boss who has no time for details may actually appreciate an employee who does.

Learn the Boss’s Pet Peeves

If your manager has said repeatedly that she hates being interrupted first thing in the morning, don’t run to her office to give her a project update when you first get in.

Anticipate the Boss’s Needs

Once you have worked with your boss for a while, you should be able to guess what information he will want before approving your purchase order, for example.

If you provide it ahead of time, “that’s a gold star,” Farner adds.

Think One Level Up

You still need to do your own job, of course. But when managers consider who deserves a promotion, they look for people who understand the issues that their bosses face.

Open Yourself to New Ways of Doing Things

When your boss comes to you with a new idea, don’t simply dismiss it. If you don’t think it will work, offer to discuss it further in “a mature, responsible, adult-like way,” Beasley says.

Be Engaged in Your Work

Arguing with your boss over every request is not a good strategy, but neither is simply shrugging your shoulders and agreeing with everything your boss says. “The manager would like to see an engaged individual,” Beasley says. That means both showing enthusiasm for your work and speaking up when you see room for improvement.

7 Ways to Make Yourself Irreplaceable in the Office

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by Vivian Giang

In order to protect yourself from the next round of layoffs, you need to convince your employers that you’re valuable and that your existence alone benefits the company.

“Today’s business environment doesn’t allow for satisfaction with the status quo. It requires constant growth and change,” writes Mark Samuel in his book Making Yourself Indispensable: The Power of Personal Accountability.

“Being indispensable means that you are adaptable, learning and growing with your organization as it changes and evolves…at the end of the day, you are either working to make yourself indispensable or working to make yourself obsolete.”

Samuel provides seven tips to help you become the most valuable person to your employers:

1. Never take the shortcut. Have you known many highly-successful people to be lazy? In order to be truly irreplaceable, you have to work hard. You can’t take shortcuts and still expect tremendous respect.

2. Be adaptable, not rigid. Samuel says that being rigid is the fastest way to losing your job. In an age where technology, workplace environment and strategy techniques are constantly changing, the most pernicious thing you can do for your career is to cling on to something from the past and refuse to change.
“The good news about rigidity is that it gives you a sense of control — it is predictable. You understand it, know it, can explain it, and can even teach it to others,” he says. “The bad news is that the sense of control is often a false one or temporary at best.”
“You can always tell when someone isn’t adaptable to change. They demonstrate their paralysis through resistance, advocating for the old way, talking about the “good ol’ days,” or undermining current change efforts through their lack of cooperation and cynicism.”

3. Being a perfectionist will be your downfall. Most people think that being a perfectionist is what they need for success, but, in actuality, it prevents it.
“Perfectionism fosters inaction — waiting until we we can guarantee success before we take action. And this negates accountability and prevents success. We wait for the perfect plan, the perfect decision, and the perfect action that won’t fail.”

4. Be of service to others without expecting anything in return. Most of us only do things for other people if we get something in return, but a truly irreplaceable employee is someone who makes decisions and solves problems for the good of their team and other departments in the organization.
The more you become “we-centered” rather than “me-centered” the more indispensable you become. Samuel quotes Stephen M. R. Covey’s book The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything:
“Trust grows when our motives are straightforward and based on mutual benefits — in other words, when we genuinely care not only for ourselves, but also for the people we interact with, lead, or serve.”

5. Be purpose-driven, not goal-driven. At work, you will have goals to achieve, but Samuel says that these goals are often “established without a clear sense of purpose.” And since most people are often too busy to go above and beyond their daily tasks, they’re not making an effort to produce actual changes. Samuel quotes Daniel H. Pink in his own book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:
“Substantial evidence demonstrates that in addition to motivating constructive effort, goal setting can induce some unethical behavior.”
So don’t stress out about finishing every single step you’ve written down on your checklist or it’ll become a never-ending cycle.

6. Be assertive. Life is a game, so play big or go home. Take charge, stand apart and don’t be afraid to speak up during meetings for fear of sounding unintelligent or being wrong.

7. Forgive others quickly. “The measure of accountability is based more on how you handle mistakes, mishaps, and breakdowns than on getting everything right all the time,” Samuel says. “It’s about how fast you can pick yourself up when you fall; how quickly you correct a mistake that you made; that little or no harm comes to your customer, family member, or friend.”

Nine Things Never to Say to Your Boss

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By Megan Malugani, Monster Contributing Writer, and Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor

“Think before you speak” is always a good policy — and at work it’s even more important. Saying the wrong thing to your boss can do serious damage to your career — and some of the things bosses don’t like to hear may surprise you. We checked in with some managers and came up with this list of nine phrases they strongly dislike — and we’ll tell you what you should say instead:

1. “I need a raise.”

Never enter salary negotiations talking about what you need — because of rising costs or a new expense, for instance. Your employer doesn’t care about your financial problems. However, management probably does want to reward success and keep high-performing employees satisfied. A raise request should always be supported by evidence of what you’ve achieved for the company — along with information about what people with your responsibilities typically earn.

2. “That just isn’t possible.”

Always speak to your boss in terms of what can be done. For instance, rather than saying “We can’t get this done by Friday,” say “We could definitely get this done by Monday, or if we brought in some freelance help, we could meet the Friday deadline.” When you talk to your boss, think in terms of solving problems for her, not in terms of putting problems on her plate.

3. “I can’t stand working with ____.”

Complaining about a coworker’s personality usually reflects more poorly on you than on the coworker. Don’t make these kinds of conflicts your boss’s problem. Of course, management is interested in problems that jeopardize the company’s ability to function. If you have to speak to HR about a problem such as a colleague’s threatening, illegal or unethical behavior, keep your tone professional and the focus on work — not personal issues.

4. “I partied too hard last night — I’m so hung over!”

Buck up and get through the day with some ibuprofen, extra undereye concealer and coffee. But don’t share the sordid details of your night on the town with your boss. Even if you have a friendly relationship, he’s just as likely to react with (unspoken) disdain as sympathy. Maintaining a solid veneer of professionalism will pay off when it’s time to discuss promotions.

5. “But I emailed you about that last week.”

Alerting your boss to a problem via email doesn’t absolve you of all responsibility for it. Bosses hate the “out of my outbox, out of my mind” attitude. Keep tabs on all critical issues you know about — and keep checking in until you hear a firm “You don’t need to worry about that anymore.”

6. “It’s not my fault.”

Are you a whiny 8-year-old or a take-charge professional? Assume responsibility and take steps to fix a problem that you did, in fact, create. And if you are being wrongly blamed for a problem, saying “Let’s get to the bottom of this” or “What can we do to make it right?” is much more effective than saying “It’s not my fault.”

7. “I don’t know.”

If your boss asks you a question you can’t answer, the correct response is not “I don’t know.” It’s “I’ll find out right away.”

8. “But we’ve always done it this way.”

You may find yourself with a new boss who wants to try new things — and the best way to present yourself as a workplace relic is to meet change with a “we do it this way because this is the way we do it” attitude. When a brainstorming session takes place, be part of it and stay open to new ideas. If you have concerns about a new idea’s feasibility, say “I think for this to work, we will have to…” Don’t kill new ideas with negativity.

9. “Let me set you up with…”

Avoid the urge to play matchmaker for your single boss. The potential risk far outweighs any potential benefit. In modern workplaces, hierarchical structures are often less rigid, and bosses will often end up in semisocial situations with their direct reports. Smart workers will draw the line at “oversharing” — definitely something to keep in mind if you’re connecting to your company’s managers on social networks like Facebook.