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Your boss is critically important to your career. It is important to impress your boss. Our career advice article (Part 1) received a lot of attention.
I guess experience counts for something! The distinguishing traits of those who rise above the rest are more about soft skills than technical skills. It is not the smartest that typically succeeds, it is almost never the smartest.
Let’s discuss several career killers to avoid and several self-promotion ideas to implement.
10 More Ways to Impress Your Boss and Drive your Career Speeding Forward
1. Dress Appropriately
Dress to be taken seriously. How do you expect to be treated seriously if you are wearing an “I am stupid” t-shirt?
Dress for your next promotion when you are ready.
People notice when you start dressing better.
It does not mean wear a fancy suit every day in a khaki and polo environment. In fact, most bosses hate that behavior as it appeared the individual is out of touch with company culture.
Instead, consider ironing or getting your khakis pressed. It is the subtle changes that send the message.
Watch your high heel height. Listen, I am vertically challenged, and I get why people wear high heels.
If you are a tall woman be careful with your heel height. It absolutely annoys men who are not self-confident.
I heard more men complain about tall women’s heel heights than short skirts being inappropriate. With those men, you get a red mark by your name and they are frequently decision makers.
This is not a night club unless you actually work at a night club. Be known for your work and taken seriously. You want your work, not your outfit getting noticed around the office.
2. Develop a 10-year Career Plan
This is Goal Setting 101. Clearly, plan where you want to be in 10 years. After laying out the goal, you need a plan with tasks that need to be accomplished to obtain the goal.
How will you promote yourself to gain that next promotion?
The tasks can include things from networking, moving to a new company, getting more education, taking a side step to another position to get experience, etc.
Goal setting is critical and often overlooked. Use the SMART Goal setting technique. It is proven to work.
Remember a goal without a plan is just a dream or a wish. This is a tedious task, but incredibly important. It really helps a boss to understand your goals.
It is annoying having an employee say they don’t know what they want to do in the company in 10 years. This puts the burden on the boss to come up with an explanation to Human Resources as to why her employee is not engaged.
3. Don’t Date at Work
This seems obvious, but apparently not. It is natural when you spend 60 hours per week in one location to start mixing social and work. No, No, No.
Relationships always become public. You will be known for your relationship and not your incredible work.
It can cost your job/career. If you are working in the same area, you may need to transfer or worse yet leave the company.
If the relationship is within a supervisor/employee relationship, it is guaranteed to violate company policy.
What happens if the relationship goes bad? Many harassment claims are levied as part of relationship revenge. A boss (actually anyone) hates dealing with this type of situation.
4. Computer and Phone Etiquette
Remember that most key decisionmakers are over 50 years old. They did not grow up with a computer in their house and definitely not a cell phone. Most can barely text. This is a generation that appreciates face-to-face discussion and phone conversations.
Make sure to understand the technology etiquette requirements at your workplace and learn them quickly.
Earphones are considered extremely rude in some office settings.
Texting is against company policy at other companies.
Know the rules, so you don’t get labeled for making a rookie mistake.
Additionally, do not send multiple email replies especially if there is a disagreement. After two emails, get up and go talk to the person.
This is particularly true if you are emailing individuals over 50 years old. Again remember, they appreciate face-to-face discussions.
How to impress an older boss does include understanding and trying to communicate with them in a style that makes them comfortable. Yes, you can still laugh about it behind their back!
5. Find a Mentor
I don’t mean stalk someone until they agree to talk to you. Look at your organization and determine whom you could learn from that has a few more years of meaningful experiences.
Start stopping by their office every few weeks and talk to them. They might not be interested in spending time with you. Ok, their loss.
Most people are flattered when someone wants to listen and learn from them.
Mentors can be very valuable in helping with promotions or smoothing over accidentally ruffled feathers.
A good boss will appreciate you reaching out to others in the organization.
6. Keep Your Personal Financials a Secret
Knowing someone’s financial situation can impact how they are perceived in the company.
True story. I had a mid-level finance person tell me about how her personal finances were a train wreck including a poor credit score and a bankruptcy.
How can any boss promote a person to a higher level if she cannot keep it together at home? How does telling her boss about her situation impress her boss or promote her career?
7. Listen at Performance Review Time
No one likes a performance review. Not the person getting the review and not the person giving the review.
If your boss takes the time to truly prepare an honest performance evaluation, listen and ask questions.
Take the time to ask and understand what you need to do to get the next promotion.
Do not forget to self-promote during your review. Come prepared.
If your boss evades your questions about future positions, it is signaling that the company does not have a clear career plan for you.
This is bad.
You need to step up your internal game and/or it might be time to look for a new job.
8. Keep a Clean Record Outside of Work
I get it. Bad things happen to good people. It is very hard to overlook bad behavior or incidents with the police outside of work, especially if it impacts your ability to do your job.
Having the police show up at work to talk to you is not good. Getting a DUI and not being able to drive is a real problem, especially if you are a salesperson.
There are serious ramifications and it puts your boss in a terrible situation. Be smart.
9. Keep Networking
I always recommend joining LinkedIn. It is still a good first step in networking. Now is time to up your game. Join your industry’s national organization(s) and get involved.
Getting involved can be anything from attending educational meetings to joining committees.
This is all about increasing your number of connections in the industry, as someday you may need to tap into your network for customer leads, technical assistance or finding a new job.
10. Be Open to New Opportunities
Opportunities can present themselves at the most unusual times. In my career, a seemly random conversation resulted in a job opportunity that I had not even though of pursuing.
Don’t expect your boss to present additional job opportunities if you shut them down the first time. Be openminded and thankful.
Even if you do not want the position, you still need your boss’s support.
How to impress your boss includes graciously thanking her for consideration and engaging in discussions regarding positions you would really like to be considered for in the future.
We assume you are awesome at the technical aspects of your job. Being fantastic technically simply is not enough to move your career forward. Remember making your boss look good is really the best way to impress your boss.
Sometimes, it is about not doing career killers like keeping out of trouble outside of work, not dating co-workers, and not talking about financials (or religion or politics)!
Other times, it is about self-promotion through listening to mentors, networking, being engaged during your review and being open to new opportunities.
Managing your career is probably the best investment you can make. Don’t assume everyone is looking out for your best interest. You need a plan. Making sure you know how to impress your boss is critically important.
We always appreciate people sharing our articles and hearing back from our readers. Let us know how you are doing on your financial independence journey. You got this!
Good Luck, Whippersnapper Finance