I’ve been at my current job for about 9 months or so now, and I noticed a few things that tend to make the boss happy. I use the term “boss” loosely, as I’ve used these techniques on people other than my direct supervisors, and I think you can use them at your own job.
Present Options and Recommendations
I’m one of those “idea guys” that love thinking up of new and better ways to do stuff.
The problem is, no one recognizes my inherent brilliance (yes, being sarcastic here) and they don’t just accept that my idea is good.
This frustrated me, until I finally realized what I was doing wrong.
Previously, I was just telling my boss/co-workers/whoever will listen
“Hey boss, we should do X. I think it would work for A, B, and C reason.”
This sounds reasonable right?
Wrong. Think about it from the other person’s perspective. You’ve essentially backed them into a corner by only allowing them to consider this single options. They can either do X, or not do X, and doing X of course requires a change to the way they’re already doing something which means there is more work to do.
I found a more effective approach to getting your ideas through is to do present multiple options and a recommendation.
This would look something like this
“Hey boss, I’ve been thinking a lot of this project, and I think I’ve come up with a few ways we could approach is.
We could do A, which has these [list pros and cons]
We could do B, which has these [list pros and cons]
Or, we could do C, which has these [list pros and cons.]
I recommend doing C because [lay out convincing case.]“
What you’ve done here is presented multiple options, shown that you’ve considered the issue from multiple angles, and most importantly, did not back your boss into a corner. People like having choices. This empowers your boss.
The recommendation part is also important, as this will be the “easy” option for your boss to choose. You’re not forcing a yes or no response on option C, you’ve carefully walked your boss through the options and pointed out the benefits of doing C, which of course at this point looks the most convincing to them.
Presenting options also has the added benefit of forcing you to consider whether your idea is really that good. Next time you want to push an idea forward, present other options in addition to your idea and see what the results are.
Do it for them
I borrowed this technique from Ramit Sethi who recommends using this for freelance projects. It works just as well at your job.
I’ve used this when I need someone (not just my boss) to do something for me. For example, I needed a co-worker to send an e-mail to a client to get some information I needed to accomplish a task.
It seems like a trivial task for your co-worker to accomplish (just send an e-mail), but since he/she has a bunch of other things to do, and like most people, is a cognitive miser, any minor barrier to accomplishing the task will reduce the likelihood of it getting done.
In this particular case, what I like to do is draft the e-mail for them.
The e-mail is designed to be sent by the co-worker to the client, and all they have to do is copy and paste the e-mail (if no edits are required).
People really appreciate this as it’s much easier to just hit forward or copy and paste or react to something rather than having to create something from scratch.
The “Do it for them” technique works in many contexts and will win you a few fans at work.
Proactively Give Status Updates
Bosses love status updates. They love knowing exactly where there project stands and how close they are to finishing it.
I noticed what they hate doing is having to check-up on you multiple times to figure out what you’re up to.
You can make your boss really like you if, at regular intervals, you send them e-mails that look something like this
“Hey [Boss's Name],
Over these past few days I accomplished X, Y, and Z. Currently I’m working on A, and will expect to have it done by next Wednesday. I’ve put a hold on B because there have been a few issues with it, but here are the steps I’m taking to make sure that tasks keeps moving forward.
I’ll send you an update on Friday to let you know how A and B are going.
No need to respond to this e-mail unless you have questions.
This also forces you to actually do stuff during your workday. You’ll feel pretty guilty if you send the boss a status update saying “I didn’t do anything.”
I haven’t tried this tool yet, but iDoneThis looks pretty cool.
I have to admit I haven’t consistently used these techniques, but when I do, I know it’s appreciated. They all require a little more work on your part, but I think these are high impact techniques that make you look really good at work for relatively little time commitment (80/20 rule).
What techniques have you used at work to impress your boss or co-workers?