If your boss had to describe you with one word, what would it be? Innovative? Reliable? Energized? Or maybe it would be Slow, Disinterested or a Complainer? Even if you feel you are giving it your all at work each day, it doesn’t matter if your boss is displeased or skeptical of your work.
Being recognized and appreciated at work depends on your ability to successfully do the job plus being known as the person who can successfully do the job. You want to be thought of as a team player who delivers results and solves problems (rather than making them).
So, what do you do? Here are four things you can start doing right now to be recognized by your boss in a positive way.
Feel the Love - Well, ok, you don’t need to feel the love but at least try to avoid the hate. You know how it feels when you get the clear vibe that someone dislikes you? It’s awful! You’ll do whatever you can to avoid being near the hater. You look at that person with a sneer. You’ll think nasty thoughts in your head, and might even share those thoughts with your friends. You get uptight and defensive when you are around that person, and assume the worst.
Now, think about how you feel about your boss. Are you snarky to or about her? Do you roll your eyes behind his back? Are you sending signs to your boss that you are a hater? Do you think he is out to get you? Although it can be incredibly difficult, you need to put those feelings in check. You don’t need to be best friends with your supervisor, but it is important not to give a menacing look every time he or she says hello. Try to replace feelings of hate with curiosity and even compassion as you try to understand why she acts the way she does. Which leads to...
Change Your View - What is going on in your manager’s world? Businesses often promote the best technical workers to management or leadership roles, and yet provide little support or training on how to manage and lead. In other words, your boss may be trying to figure out the best way to be the boss. He may not have any support or know-how about how to manage or lead people. She may be navigating pressures from above and below. Think about what your boss is dealing with. Who is breathing down his neck? How is your boss’ success being measured?
Understanding what your boss is dealing with gives you major clues about what is important to her and how you can be recognized as an asset and not as a “problem employee.” You don’t want to add to the problems. The secret to success if for you to be seen as the one who helps solve the problems!
Also, figure out what is most important to your boss. Is it metrics? Teamwork? Sales? Authority? You really want to get into your boss’ head! Then you can understand what is motivating your boss. Everyday you see signals about what is important to her. You just need to pick up on them. This will let you anticipate what questions may come your way, how to present a new idea so that it is accepted, and most, importantly, how you can do work that is valued and ultimately recognized.
Track and Communicate Your Fabulousness - We all have days where we wonder where the time went. It’s never a good feeling. But, what you really don’t want is having your boss wondering how you are spending your time.
Make a list of everything you are doing, then list the status and deadline or target date for each activity. This not only helps you get a grip on and plan for what you are working on, but is a great tool to help you communicate to your boss everything that is on your plate. If you have regular meetings with your supervisor, you can bring in a summary version of this document. Your manager will thank you. By offering this type of regular update, you are warding off questions about “what are you doing” and “what is the status on project <fill in the blank>.” It also helps you plan your time, proactively identify “problem” areas and recognize in advance if you are going to have an issue with a particular deadline. You will also find this list to be a tremendous help if you are given a new project and want to push back by explaining how this new project will impact what you are already working on.
And, if you proactively communicate this to your boss, she will appreciate it and better understand what you are doing. Yes, there is a balance that you must find in what and how you communicate your workload to your boss, but you absolutely must let your boss know about the amazing work you are doing.
Say The Magic Words - No, the magic word isn’t “please” -- although that doesn’t hurt either. Try asking “How can I help?” It’s a game-changer. Imagine that you are a consultant who is there to help the boss instead of thinking of yourself as the oppressed worker bee. Let your boss know that you understand what big issues he is tackling (see item 2) and that you want to be able to help. Or, if you hear your boss grumble or worry about a new project, just say the magic words and let her know that you are part of the team, interested, and ready to help.
You would be surprised by how rarely people say these words, and how powerful they are. You are showing that you understand, care and are engaged. Of course, it is crucial that you follow through on what you offer to do.
You know you are doing a great job, but is that coming across at work? Get yourself in the right mindset and practice these suggestions. You should notice that your boss is looking at you with a new appreciation. You can do this!
Stephanie Dennis is a career demystifier and mentor, sharing the secrets of top performers. She created Communicate to Thrive to help you navigate office politics and learn how to thrive and advance at work.