As I drove through town this afternoon, I saw another group of Smith College graduates ready to take on the world. How fortunate for today’s grads to be leaving school at a time when there are actually jobs. Congratulations to all of you who have just graduated and landed your first “real” job. Here’s my advice on how to impress your first boss as you go out and make your way in the world.
Show up on time. You are in the big leagues now. This means that showing up for work on time is not an option. It’s a requirement. And when I say showing up for work on time, I mean being at your desk, Starbucks in hand, prepared to begin work at the time you and your boss agree you’ll begin your day.
Dress appropriately. I know you are probably rolling your eyes wondering why I would even have to remind people to dress appropriately. It’s because I’ve seen a lot in my day and some of it isn’t pretty, especially as the summer heats up in the city. Dress conservatively on your first day of work. If you are a guy and you don’t know if ties are required, bring one along so that you can put one on if you notice that more of the guys are wearing them than not. If you are a woman, select an outfit that will work, if by chance your office is in a church.
Don’t be the first one out the door. You may indeed be the smartest person in the room, but that still doesn’t mean your legs should be flying out the door the moment the clock hits quitting time. Before leaving, always ask your boss if there is anything he or she would like you to do, before you pack your things and exit.
Be aware of your surroundings. The world of work looks nothing like the world of education. You’ll quickly learn about expectations in the workplace by being aware of your surroundings. For example, take note of your bosses interaction with others. Does your boss appear to be a bottom line kind of guy or does he prefer to have all the background information. Can’t figure it out? Then ask.
Be resourceful. You were hired because you impressed your boss during your interview. Don’t stop there. Be resourceful. Share ideas you’ve come up with that will make life easier for your boss.
Be respectful. Your boss isn’t your pal, even if she is a year or two older than you. She is your boss. Treat her with the same respect that you’d treat someone higher up in the organization.
Manage yourself. Your boss has a full plate. Your job is to be an asset. Not a burden. When you make a commitment to your boss, do what you say you are going to do. If you are unable to do so, at least let your boss know ahead of time so she is not surprised.
Manage your boss. The idea of managing your boss (also known as managing up) is a topic that is rarely taught in school. That’s why I wrote the book on managing up in the top down world of business. The book is called Suddenly in Charge. Even if you are not in management, be sure to get a hold of a copy and read the section on managing up. Once you acquire this skill, you will be impressing bosses for years to come and who knows, one day you may indeed be a boss.