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Posted: December 13, 2011

Top 11 ways to impress the boss

You don't have to do all of them to be successful

David Sneed

I wrote this a few years ago 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. 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."

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David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Helpful points as we all get ready for a successful new year! By Hope Marie on 2011 12 29
Ed, Thanks for the comment. They guy I wrote it for was in his 20's and didn't know the first thing about having a job. The thing about bad bosses is - they don't care anyway, and see no need for instruction (but that's why they're bad bosses to begin with.) By David Sneed on 2011 12 22
David, This is really good advice especially for the younger work force although I might take some heat for saying that. That is not to say there are not plenty of lumps on the log that are my age, but I see this a lot with younger workers. The other comment I would make is to say, there are far too many bosses that need a list on how to treat an employee in order to keep the good ones. Heck, some bosses need a list just to keep any employees. Fortunately for these bad bosses, the economy is in their favor so having any job is better than not working at all. Good list - thanks. Ed By Ed Collins on 2011 12 13

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