If you want to step up in your career and get that promotion and recognition, then you need to stand out and impress your boss and other senior leaders within your organization. There are many ways that you can do this. Here are the 17 best ways to get started.
1. Know Your Development Goals
When it comes time for your annual review, be well-prepared. Know your areas of weakness and what you need to do to improve, develop and progress in your career.
If you’ve thought about what you want to achieve in terms of personal and professional development, and you’ve taken the all-important step of aligning your development goals with the company’s long-term goals, this will help you to stand out.
Take it a step further, and identify potential projects or opportunities that you can get involved with, that will give you the experience, exposure, or skills you need. Doing this is not just a great way to impress your boss, but it will also increase the chances of you achieving what you desire.
2. Act On Constructive Feedback
Constructive feedback can be hard to take. But how you handle criticism has a significant impact on your future success, both in your career and in your life in general. Learning to listen to criticism without getting defensive is step one, but doing something about it is key.
When you receive feedback, don’t just listen to it, but welcome it and most importantly go away, reflect on it and where necessary, act on it. This is the critical step that’s easily forgotten. And even if you do attempt to make changes, often these changes don’t always stick.
Growth, improvement, and development are ongoing and proactive. Showing that you take your feedback seriously enough to implement real change will set you apart from most people.
3. Think Like a Business Analyst
Business Analysts analyze operations, processes, and procedures within businesses and projects. They then provide insight into what needs to be changed for these things to run more smoothly, effectively, and efficiently.
But you don’t have to have the official title or role of Business Analyst to think like one. Thinking like a Business Analyst means doing these exact things for your department, your team, and your role.
It’s about always analyzing, thinking critically, asking questions, and seeking better solutions where possible.
If you can demonstrate that this is how you operate, this is one of the best ways to impress your boss. The only caveat is, be sure to come up with potential, solutions, rather than just pointing out problems, your boss will not thank you for that!
4. Support & Mentor New Team Members
Offering your time to mentor and support new members of the team will help you to develop as a person while also helping you to stand out and impress your boss. More importantly, it will help newcomers to integrate and to feel a sense of belonging sooner.
If you can support a new team member to achieve their goals and integrate well into the team, this will provide immense value since a huge number of employees quit their jobs within the first 6 months due to poor onboarding.
5. Be Principled and Assertive
In his book, The 7 Habits, Covey talks about the concept of being a principled person. This is WHO you are. This means having your set of standards and living by them.
To do this, you need to be assertive enough to honor your principles, even though it might be difficult.
We all know that in a company setting, at times things come up that we may not fully align with. Difficult decisions need to be made. The key is being open and honest about who you are, and letting people know what you’re there for and what you won’t tolerate. In a professional manner of course.
This is where assertiveness comes in.
6. Ask Meaningful and Insightful Questions
Back to being a Business Analyst. One of the things that business analysts are great at, is asking questions. Because this is how you learn things and understand things on a deep level.
If you’ve ever worked with a coach, then you’ll know the power of asking meaningful and insightful questions.
The people who ask questions are the people who know things. So be that person who’s always asking questions, not just out loud, but even just to yourself as well, because you never know what avenues of thought will be opened up.
Asking questions means looking at things from different angles, and constantly checking in. It means not resting on your laurels but always looking for improvements, enhancements, and anything else that could be missed. Asking questions means challenging the status quo.
7. Have Additional Information To Hand
Every leader loves to be informed. If you want to know how to impress your boss then being the person that can provide additional valuable information is a great route.
Know this information and be able to offer it to your boss as and when needed. The more you can do this, the more you’ll stand out, and ultimately you’ll set yourself up as someone who’s indispensable.
8. Pre-empt Potential Problems, Challenges, and Set-backs
The thing about asking questions, being the team’s business analyst, and having additional information to hand, is that it sets you up to do something that every company and therefore every boss is looking for. It makes you someone who can spot potential pitfalls, challenges, and problems early enough to prepare for them and avoid them!
If there’s anything you need to know about how to impress your boss it’s this. Because ultimately, if you can prevent problems and issues from arising, or spot them very early on you’ll be saving someone in the company time, money, and resources. And if you can do that, then you’re golden.
9. Have Key Metrics Top of Mind and To Hand
I once had a boss who wanted the team to know every metric off the top of our heads for all vacancies we were managing. And I’m not talking about checking on a system or checking in Excel, they wanted it known by heart.
This included how many vacancies we had, how many were at each stage; interview, resume review, candidate sourcing; which candidates were interviewing with which managers, and at what stage the interviews were at.
Does this sound like a lot? Well, he didn’t just want us to know this for the vacancies that we were managing, he wanted us to know this for the whole team.
He reasoned that at any time, any senior leader could stop any member of our team and ask a random question about any role and when this happened, we should be prepared. Thus demonstrating that our team operated to the highest standards.
We were a center of excellence and he didn’t want this to be by name only.
While this might sound crazy, the truth is he was an incredible leader and he had the team’s interest at heart. He wanted us to be excellent, and he didn’t want any of us to be caught with our proverbial pants down.
The reason I share this is to demonstrate the power of knowing your stuff. Knowing your numbers is something that will set you apart. That’s why he wanted us to have this information to hand. He wanted our department to stand out.
And if you think that data and metrics are something that only those in sales or finance need to concern themselves with, think again. Every department has data and knowing your department’s data is a major way to impress your boss.
10. Manage Expectations
The idea of underpromising might come as a shock. No one wants to underpromise, but when you think of it from the perspective of negotiation, it might change your perspective.
We all know that in a negotiation, people typically ask for more than they will agree to or accept. This is because you know that the other person will be negotiating as well. This means they’ll also be coming in with demands that they can do without. That’s the game.
From the perspective of negotiation, underpromising doesn’t seem as bad. Isn’t it better to be conservative with your promises, and then pull out all the stops, than to overpromise, only find you can’t deliver on your word?
It’s easy to over-promise because we’re so eager to please and prove ourselves. It’s not because we want to lie, but because we’re so committed to doing a great job, we want to tell people this upfront. But save this for your actions.
Underpromising isn’t about holding yourself to low standards. It’s about managing people’s expectations and then exceeding those expectations.
Rather than trying to look great and saying yes to everything, do yourself a favor and get comfortable with not being a yes man or woman. Don’t say you’ll give someone everything they want when you know it’s unrealistic.
Sure, managing people’s expectations is hard, because no one likes to be told “no”. So you’ll have to get used to saying it, even if it’s without saying it.
11. Then Overdeliver
Manage expectations and then over-deliver. Just because you may have given yourself some wiggle room, it doesn’t mean you don’t give your best. It just means that when you give your best, the other party won’t be left wondering why you did the bare minimum, because you didn’t over-promise things that were never going to be possible.
12. Get To Know Who’s Who
It’s all about who you know as well as what you know. In the work setting, getting to know who’s who is just as important as doing great work. Building cross-functional relationships and doing internal networking is another valuable thing to do and a great way to impress your boss.
If and when you or your team needs support with something and you’ve already built relationships with someone who can help, your boss is sure to be impressed. And it’s great for you as well!
13. Get The Industry Inside Track
You already know that putting knowledge into practice is power. But step one is acquiring that knowledge.
A great way to do this is by attending industry events, reading industry publications, and keeping up to date with what’s going on. Something that will impress your boss and help you to stand out.
14. Get The Company Inside Track
Relationships are the name of the game and when you’ve done the work of building good relationships, a benefit of this is often knowing the inside track of what’s going on inside your company. Now I’m not talking about pressing people to divulge confidential matters to you. This is about keeping abreast of things that are happening, spotting potential opportunities, and letting your boss know what you know.
15. Go The Extra Mile
Everyone loves the person who goes the extra mile. Going the extra mile with anything is always a great way to impress your boss.
The best thing about this is that you can do it in lots of different ways. So, if you’ve been reading this thinking, “I’m terrible with numbers” or “my role is so junior that no one will tell me anything”, there are still plenty of things that you can do when it comes to going the extra mile.
Supporting colleagues on projects, listening, and noticing if someone’s struggling. All of these things don’t require you to hold any special position, but they do require you to care and be engaged in what’s happening within your team.
16. Develop Your Personal Brand
If we wrap up all the pieces that I’ve listed so far, then it builds a picture. A picture of a certain type of person. The things you do consistently, the way to treat people, the way to behave, and how you show up, this is your personal brand.
Being proactive about building the kind of personal brand that you’re proud of, will set you apart.
17. And If All Else Fails… Give a Genuine Compliment
Who doesn’t like a compliment? And regardless of how your boss takes it, I assure you, it will make their day. Just make sure it’s genuine.
Now you know how to stand out and seriously impress your boss, find out how you can take your career to the next level: