10 Ways To Tell Your Boss What a Great Job You’re Doing

Cross-posted from thegovgurus.com:

By Lily Whiteman

Federal Times columnist and author of How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job

As your work projects progress, ask yourself whether your boss knows what you are doing. I mean really knows what you are doing, as in all of the trouble-shooting, barrier-busting and going the extra mile-ing that you do.
Unfortunately many bosses — taxed to the max and untrained in supervising — rarely take the time and trouble to say to their staffers those five little important words: “What are you working on?” This principle was underscored to me by the manager of a large federal accounting office who confessed as we strolled through his staff’s cubicle farm, “I probably know about 10 percent of what each of these people do daily.”
Why should you work to close this type of communication gap between you are your boss? Because you probably won’t get credit on your annual evaluation for achievements that your boss doesn’t know about. In other words, what your boss doesn’t know about you could hurt you on your annual evulations.

But beware: your annual evaluations are important to you for several reasons:
Your annual bonus will probably based on your annual evaluation.

If you are on a pay-for-performance salary system, your annual raise will be based on your evaluation instead of on a pre-set, automatic salary increase.

Your prospects for promotions may hinge, in part, on your evaluations. That is because many federal job applications require submission of recent annual evaluations. And even if you job applications don’t require you to submit recent annual evaluations, you should — if possible — cite your record of earning positive evaluations and quote praising comments from your evaluations in your resume and application essays included in your future job applications.

If you suspect that your boss or other managers or unaware of your achievements, here are 10 ways to start spreading the good news:

Introduce Yourself: If your boss is replaced, your new boss probably won’t know anything what you can do or have already done. Nor will he know anything about your credentials, such as awards you have won or degrees you have earned.

So don’t just settle for a hallway handshake introduction with your new boss. Instead, make an appointment to introduce yourself to him. During your meeting with your new boss, tell him about your biggest projects; show him some of your relevant work products; identify your upcoming projects and the approvals you will need on them; and suggest some future projects that would interest you and benefit your office. One more thing: no griping or complaining during that first meeting!
Cultivate a Friendly Rapport: Without being obsequious, complement your boss on successes and chat with your boss when you both have some free time, such as before a meeting begins or at the end of the day. By doing so, you will make it easier to deliver your good news as it develops.

Be Direct: Many professionals only hint about their extra efforts. For example, they assume that if they send their boss an email late at night, he will notice the time stamp on the email, make a mental note of their long hours and remember those contributions at review time. But will he? And isn’t it risky to rely on the selective and imperfect memory of a pressured, distracted boss?

Instead, when you’re working like a harnessed beast, take the bull by the horns and tell your boss about your extra efforts. Say something like, “I just wanted to let you know that we are making good progress on Project X…Jane and I are working hard on it; we put in 12-hour days on it every day this week.”

In addition, if you work extra hours, claim the comp time or credit hours that you deserve on your time card. You shouldn’t anonymously donate your time to your office any more than you would make anonymous financial donations to your office.

Provide Updates: Establish a regular method for updating your boss on your projects involving some sort of cyber or paper trail – such as regularly emailed status reports. Be sure to describe in such updates special obstacles you conquered, such as repeated computer crashes or staff shortages. Also mention in your updates positive feedback you have received on your work from other professionals, including other managers at your own agency or at other agencies, your colleagues, stakeholder groups, contractors, clients or your staffers.

Participate in Staff Meetings: If you’ve completed an important phase of a project, tell your colleagues about it in staff meetings. Also, mention any major positive feedback you’ve received. For example, if your office’s top banana just approved your organization’s annual report and complimented you for completing it in record time, say so.

Show-and-Tell: Show to your boss or leave in your boss’s in-box documents that validate your success. These may include, for example, evaluations from trainings or events you organized, complimentary emails from top managers, agendas from conferences at which you gave presentations, articles you published, or web pages you created. Also, invite your boss to presentations, trainings or other events that you organize.

Convey Compliments: If another manager besides or boss or any other noteworthy figure compliments your work, respond by saying something like, ”I’m sure that my boss would like to hear your impressions of my work. Would you mind emailing him a short note telling him what you just aid to me, and c.c.-ing me on that note as well?”

I taught this technique to a Treasury Department Webmaster who used it to convey to his boss his client’s satisfaction with a website he created. In response, his boss gave him a $500 cash award that he otherwise would not have received.

Write About It: Offer to write articles about your projects for your office’s newsletter or Intranet site and for professional publications.

Express Gratitude: When projects that you lead conclude, email each member of your team a thank-you note that describes the team’s successes and c.c. your boss on it.

Talk to the Crowds: Don’t wait to be invited to give presentations at conferences and other meetings of large groups; instead, volunteer to do so. To select good topics, consider what specialized knowledge you have that others would find useful. For example, you could describe a successful case study, provide how-to instruction, or discuss lessons learned from a policy or system implementation. Alternatively, summarize the state of knowledge on a particular topic or discuss ways to adapt to changes in your field. After the event, tell your boss about your presentation and any positive feedback it drew.

Get more practical advice on how to accelerate your advancement in How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job (Amacom) by Lily Whiteman.

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Amanda Blount

OK. I know we government type are all a bunch of A type personalities waiting in the wings to be double AAs. I agree, we do need to get the right evaluations for our work, but some of this article sounds just a tab bit like “sucking up”. What boss likes to have that one person always letting them know what they are doing? Now don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite quotes is “No one takes better care of you, then you.” But, patting myself on the back everytime I work late or do something special for the office, just seems a little over board.

Humm….then again, the other saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”

Maybe there is something to this.

Craig Kessler

Providing updates is key. Boss may not always be available to talk or have the time to care but a few updates on specifics can go a long way. Always keep your name in their head in a positive way.

Stephan Borau

I agree with Amanda — this is advice for people who want to be superstars or want to climb the ladder through blowing their own horn (and those individuals tend not to be able to live up to their own hype). As a public servant trying to provide good value for citizens, I find those individuals rising quickly up the chain who are usually less-than-competent to be anethema. It also smacks of a private-sector, competitive values motivation, and the public service works best based when co-operation is highly valued.

I think introducing yourself to a new boss is a good idea, although any new boss with half a brain would meet individually with all their new staff. It’s good to update your manager regularly — to get credit for what you are doing and to be proactive in heading off any micro-managing tendencies.

All of the other advice is much more about sucking up.

Evan Pratt

Sucking up is bad. Keeping a supervisor informed is critical. Why? Because some supervisors have the ability to help if they are well informed, and I agree that micro-managers do a better job of letting folks who communicate run with things.

The article has some good suggestions, but my only feedback on the content is that in my experience it is very productive to ask your manager what they want to know about. It is also helpful to ask them what their goals are – you don’t have to suck up, but if the boss catches you at a terrible time with the thing that is most important to them, it is probably a good idea to be able to acknowledge you understand that its a top priority to them – even if you have to politely decline to help, the dynamic is different.

Along the lines of asking them what they need to hear from you, it is fairly common for some folks to struggle to provide a summary of the most important items that affect the outcome. There are brilliant people who can’t be brief, can’t be clear, or simply miss the overall goal due to the outstanding contribution they are able to make on one important facet. Most people who can give the kind of summary that is valuable to a manager have learned how to do so — asking them for an example of the reporting or summary they like best is a good way for an inexperienced person to get there quickly. A busy manager looks forward to a few clear bullet points that prep them for any questions that might come from their boss or another department, and problems that have possible solutions or recommendations associated with them. The same manager is quick to delete the rambling summary of my struggles to work with all the things that are causing me problems, especially if I fail to include what I plan to do to get the help I need.

Amanda Blount

Well it just dawned on me one way to do something with what Steve said, and not look like a suck-up.

I just talked to my boss, and he is getting ready for the staff meeting Monday morning. He asked for my input on the items we did this week in our section. Just like every week, I gave him the update of what we were all working on. Well, it just so happens I was looking at this thread while I was talking to him. Instead of giving him the normal, BLAH BLAH BLAH. I made it a point to tell him specific details our section accomplished. For example – I told him we finished the GPC Audit with only one small finding, we finished a certain number of contracts this week, with a total amount of $. I told him the largest contract was so-in-so, and the smallest one was for so-in-so. I told him about some of the issues we ran into this week while trying to get more contracts accomplished. I told him the plans for logistics training next week and I also updated him on where everyone was going to be next week.

I am not the supervisor, but I am the one who keeps him updated with what is going on week to week. So, I wasn’t sucking up – I was taking the chance to really inform him of the status of the office (also throwing in some ATA Boys for my co-workers) so he could complete his notes for the meeting. He really liked how detailed I was regarding all we accomplished this week, and what we have planned for next week. He even laughed a little, and said “At this rate, they will expect this out of us every week!” Of course he was joking. We always accomplish tons of work. But, I am going to start giving him nubers and examples, and statistics, etc. for his report. I can praise the work of the whole office. It will keep him informed, and it is not patting myself, or anyone else, on the back. Plus, it makes our office look good as a whole. Hummm…. this is really going to work.

Daniel Sprague

If you don’t tell the boss how well you are doing, no one else will. There is a fine line between bragging and sucking up. Give them the details and praise your staff. It works for me.