Understanding what makes your corporate overlord tick is a near-impossible pursuit in an Internet era when office politics are conducted via GChat and your boss more often lurks on the other side of a screen than the other side of a desk.
But if you’re struggling to make good, career counselors say there are four things that all bosses want.
1. A sense of priorities
“A common mistake that entry-level workers make is that they’re focused on their work and see that as their priority,” New York-based executive coach Barbara Frankel notes. “What they don’t understand is that their first priority is their boss’ priority.”
Figuring out what the bigwig upstairs cares about might necessitate asking around, career coach Donna Flagg says. Don’t be hesitant to raise the question early on.
“I recommend that people, even in the interviewing process, ask ‘What are you looking for? What matters to you?’” she suggests.
2. Open ears
“In the beginning, you want to listen more than you talk,” career blogger Lindsey Pollak recommends.
Many fresh hires, she adds, come in thinking the opposite.
“Most people think they have to walk in and deliver results immediately,” Frankel agrees. “The right way to approach a job is to listen and learn.”
If you have observations, she says, jot them down. Six months from now they might be worth considering.
3. An interest in ‘we,’ not ‘I’
Newbies who come in trying to prove something often undermine themselves by boasting of their past accomplishments.
Bragging is a great way, career counselor Jane Cranston says, to spoil your reputation from day one. “At a business meeting you should say, ‘Am I talking about me? Or am I talking about business?’” she cautions. “Because this isn’t about you.”
4. Subtle respect
“All bosses think that because they’re a boss, they deserve respect,” Flagg warns.
“Be sensitive to that. Convey a sense of respect.”