Sometimes, small things make a big difference – like forgetting to attach a speech to an important email that you sent before logging off for the weekend… Yep, I did that in my first few months of work. The CEO of the company in Singapore needed it for an event, and of course everything was perfect, except for how I forgot to attach the document! Well, luckily small positive things can also make a big difference. With that, here are five quick ideas that you can put into action, pronto:
1) “Do you need any extra help with that project?”
So obvious and yet people rarely say these words, wrongly assuming their manager will always ask them to get involved. This simple question shows you’re committed, helpful, and looking to get involved in new ways. Just be ready with a few ideas of how you could contribute in case you’re asked. Even if your boss doesn’t need anything, the fact you offered will be remembered.
2) “I really enjoyed that presentation you gave!”
Just like anyone else, your manager wants to feel like he/she has done a good job. Often, we assume senior people are totally confident and don’t have any insecurities at work. Well I can tell you that’s definitely not true. I’ve worked with countless senior executives who get nervous about speaking in front of their peers, who worry a presentation they gave to the executive team wasn’t well-received, and who stress out that their clients were underwhelmed by the work. So showing some genuine enthusiasm for an important piece of work a person delivered can go a long way. Just make sure you don’t come across as patronizing by saying something like ‘good job’ or ‘well done’! Also, be ready to elaborate on what you found particularly interesting in case your boss wants to lap it up and hear some more ;)
3) “I had some ideas of things we could do next year – would you like me to send you them?
Here’s the thing. As you get more senior (or as you want to get more senior), you need to think longer-term and more strategic. When you start out, you’re working mostly day-to-day in terms of deliverables. Later on, your projects last longer, and you also have more input to what is done (versus just doing it). Now you have to be a bit careful… Some (inferior) bosses will feel threatened and may want you to stay operating within the confines of your role. Others may feel you’re being pushy and could respond defensively. If you suspect this might apply, you need to be easy-going with the suggestions – kind of non-chalant about the fact you’re putting ideas forward. Years ago, one friend of mine worked as a waitress and was pushing her marketing ideas to the Sales Director. It was obviously too aggressive an approach, because she was totally shot down and basically told she should ‘know her place’. Poor move on the part of the Sales Director, but between her level of energy/assertiveness and his likelihood of feeling threatened, I’m not too surprised.
4) “That was such an interesting piece of work. I’m really glad I got to work on that!”
If your boss is confident you like your job, your team, and working for him/her, they’re a million times more likely to be happy with your performance and to talk you up to others – regardless of how you’re actually doing. It’s not a reason to pretend to love a job you hate, but if you do like your work, show it! I’ve seen a lot of interns, in particular, look totally sullen and unimpressed with work when it turns out they’re actually happy (and often just intimidated). They are rarely, if ever, offered permanent roles for the coming year.
5) “I was thinking we could make our budgeting process more efficient. Would you want me to spend a bit of time on this to streamline things and hopefully require less manual intervention each month?”
Now unless it’s someone’s salary that I’ve helped negotiate up, or if it’s my bank account moving in the right direction, I hate finance and dealing with numbers. That said, when I got to the point that I was managing multi-million dollar budgets, that finance stuff had to get done. So offering to tackle tedious but really important stuff like this is a great way to make your boss happy. Not sure what you could do? Think about it this way. If your job were simply to make your manager’s life easier at work, what one thing might you offer to do? Of course it helps if it’s something you’re good at or at least vaguely interested in. When your manager has to clean up an even messier budgeting spreadsheet, it’s not going to win you any favors!
Which of these phrases might you use on your boss? Do you have any other ‘magic’ sentences that have worked wonders? Comment away below J