Three Things That Will Impress Your Boss

Dan BobinskiMaybe you’re trying to get a promotion or a raise. Or, maybe you’re just a solid team player and your work ethic is top drawer. In such cases, you probably like hearing the words “good job” from your boss. If that’s the case, one of the quickest ways to impress your boss is by making his or her life easier.

Although every supervisor is different and will be impressed by different actions, here are three things you can do that are likely to give any boss a favorable impression.

1 Pay Attention to Detail.

There’s a distinct difference between getting something done so you can check an assignment off your list and doing something with an eye for detail. An illustration that just about everyone can relate to is getting your car washed. At one end of the spectrum, you can drive though a quick car wash just to rinse off the dirt, or, at the other end of the spectrum, you can have your vehicle “detailed.” If you’ve never had your vehicle detailed, the difference is amazing. It’s hard to be anything but impressed by how clean your car is after it’s detailed.

Now think about this in a work setting. All other things being equal, bosses will be more impressed by an employee who pays attention to key details over someone who merely checks off a box and says, “task complete.”

Roger, a supervisor of five, recently told me about his frustrations with Ann, one of his employees.

“She is a real go-getter and concerned about our company’s success, but sometimes she gets working too fast and doesn’t pay attention to detail. As a result, there have been times I’ve had to re-assign people for six or seven hours to fix a problem that occurred because of her oversights on very simple details. That gets expensive really fast.”

Yes, supervisors want jobs done in a timely manner, but if man-hours need to be devoted to mopping up messes, then efficiency isn’t all that valuable. To make a solid impression on a boss, there has to be a balance between efficiency and effectiveness.

2 Take Initiative.

Think ahead and anticipate what must be done. Then, without waiting to be told, do it. One example of an employee taking excellent initiative is Kristy, who received a promotion to a newly created supervisory position. Kristy’s boss would be the director of her department, and Kristy knew this person was someone who improvised as he went along. And so, before her first day in her new position, Kristy wrote out two pages of questions she had about how this supervisor wanted her to deal with various situations.

Sure enough, when Kristy’s first day as a supervisor came, the director had been negligent in creating a job description for Kristy. The director simply showed Kristy around and made some customary introductions. Then he said, “I guess from here you’ll just need to ask me questions.”

Because Kristy was prepared, she opened her folder, took out her list of questions and started asking! This spawned a three-hour conversation, and yes, Kristy’s boss was very impressed.

Again, a balance must exist. Bosses love loyal, dedicated employees, but you won’t find many bosses impressed by employees who must be told exactly what to do and when to do it every step of the way. By the same token, you won’t find too many bosses impressed by someone who thinks ahead too far and then creates problems by not seeing the complete picture before taking action. Communication, coordination and cooperation are essential.

3 Help Others Where Needed.

I was going to title this section “Show Team Spirit,” but I fear that term has become too cliché. The phrase has become so common that many people simply read over it and fail to grasp its meaning anymore. Perhaps more practical and to the point is, “help others where needed.” No doubt this attribute requires a bit of initiative (see above), but it’s a different trait altogether.

It’s one thing to be caring and wanting your team to win, but it’s something more to be useful. Yes, we must care about others and be concerned about team success, but “being useful” means acting on that concern, and therefore adding value to the team’s effort.

Something as simple as holding a door open for someone demonstrates the basic tone, but to really make an impact, we can take it much deeper. In other words, it’s easy to notice when someone is overloaded and needs some help. But, if we get outside the focus of our own work, we can often see opportunities to assist others and make a greater impact for the team.

A common phrase that accompanies this mindset is, “Going above and beyond,” but I once heard someone say the mentality here is more often, “Going below and beyond.” The idea is that often, the areas needing help are below us on the organizational chart. One person I know says he has gained the respect of his boss by, in his words, “reaching out to help fill gaps.” He says this can be as simple as notifying someone that supplies are running low or volunteering to represent the company in community outreach activities.

How we go about assisting others will vary depending on the needs of each individual organization, but the point is that the whole team benefits when we do it. And, when the boss perceives we’re able to see a bigger picture and lend a hand outside of our normal responsibilities, it makes a good impression. The phrase, “That’s not my job,” is basically synonymous with, “I’m not a team player.”

Want to impress your boss? Pay attention to detail. Take initiative. And, help others when you see a need. Besides, these aren’t just good habits for work. They’re good habits for life.
Next month: How bosses can impress employees!

Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed., is the CEO of, helping teams and individuals learn how to use Emotional Intelligence. He’s also a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. Reach him at