I know that when you are working in the trenches, it’s often difficult to have a perspective on what your boss notices. Many bosses are unfortunately like me; distracted, aloof, short tempered, running between meetings and phone calls. And accordingly it is easy to imagine that your boss has a somewhat limited awareness of what is going on directly around them, as if concentrating on the big picture somehow makes it impossible to see the small picture that surrounds you.
But most of the time that is not the case. While there are many exceptions, most people did not get to be the boss by ignoring the little things. While the boss may choose not to directly address the fairly minor good and bad actions of employees, there is a very good chance that they do notice almost everything, and these observations may ultimately be very positive or negative to your career. A few things that I (and most bosses) consistently notice :
- When you come to work. I have a big window in my office that looks out over the building entrance. Often while I am on phone calls I watch as employees enter the building. I know who is consistently late. I also know who leaves for extended coffee breaks and long lunches, and who leaves early. On a positive note I know who shows up on time and puts in the hours.
- Your writing and communication skills. I notice if you write intelligent and concise emails and letters as opposed to rambling diatribes. I notice if you have a personality and the confidence to greet me and your co-workers. I really notice if you have charisma – as it is one of the most difficult attributes to find in business.
- Your interest level in the business. I notice if you are a student of the business; someone who takes the extra time and effort to really learn how the company operates. And I especially notice if after really learning the business you have thoughts and ideas about how to improve things. I notice good ideas.
- Enthusiasm. I notice and really appreciate it if you have it.
- If you are a whiner. Whiners easily stand out. If you focus on problems without solutions you make an impact on me – and not a positive one.
- Ambition. I like ambitious people, especially if they are willing to do the work to achieve their ambitions.
And that is just a partial list. Sometimes I notice silly, yet in some way very significant things. A month ago I watched as two employees walked by a sack of garbage that was in front of the building entrance. A third employee returning from lunch stopped to pick up the garbage and discard it. My immediate reaction was that either the first two did not respect the company or they were incredibly lazy.
My big point is that your boss probably notices the little things too, and the little things can often have a big impact on your career.