Buckle up friends, we’re officially a month and a half into 2024! 

If you are really wanting to showcase yourself as a go-getter, or a star performer this year in your Organisation, one that is ready for new opportunities, here are 5 things that your boss really wants you to know and, more importantly, DO! 

Set Clear Goals and Objectives for yourself 

Don't just sit back and wait to be told what is important - take initiative to work it out.  If your team doesn't have cascading objectives, or you aren’t clear on the overall strategic goals of the organisation, that can be tough sometimes, but it still doesn’t mean you can’t demonstrate your own initiative and proactivity by identifying the opportunities that you see, and then presenting them to your boss. Be specific, define success from your lens, and bonus points for ensuring you talk to the value that your work adds to the organisation (AKA what will this work enable the organisation to do?). 

Practical Step to help you: Create a visual roadmap outlining what you see as being the steps needed to achieve your goals. Present this to your boss for their feedback and input, and then regularly keep them updated as to your progress during one-on-one meetings.

PLEASE be an Impact Player - AKA Show initiative and real Problem-Solving skills

Your boss is SERIOUSLY busy. I know you are too, but 10X it and that is usually what they are trying to juggle. So, what they really want you to do this year is showcase yourself as an impact player. Make their life easier. Anticipate their needs. Show initiative and problem solving skills. If you see a problem or an issue, please don’t just forward it onto them saying “What do you think”? - consider first what it is that you think needs to happen. Make some recommendations and provide solutions where you can. If you aren’t sure of the answer, that’s OK, but what sets you apart is the fact that you took the time to try and find out.

Practical Step to help you: Keep a record of instances where you identified a problem, implemented a solution, and measure the positive impact it had on the team or project. This will help you track your own impact, and also put you in a great position for when the time comes to have a performance conversation. 

Proactively focus on Upskilling yourself with a Future-Proof Focus

The world will not slow down for anyone, so it is incumbent on all of us to stay relevant and continue to upskill ourselves.  It is not your boss's job though to identify this for you wholly and solely. You need to also reflect on the areas in your career pathway or industry that are evolving, and then reflect on the ways of which you can keep ahead of the curve. Remember too - there are many ways to develop your skills beyond JUST going back to university, or doing a formal learning program. Analyse your current role, and see where you can identify two or three key skills that would significantly enhance your performance. This could be learning a  new software, improving your project management skills, or enhancing your data analysis capabilities. 

Practical Step to help you: Come up with your 2 -3 micro-skilling areas for the year or quarter and share that learning plan with your boss, why it matters, what knowledge you’ll bring back into the team, and discuss how the new skills will contribute to your role. Your boss will be thrilled with your pro-activity, and the fact that you’ve considered how the team, department and organisation will benefit. 

Communicate in the way your receiver needs to hear it, NOT how you like to say it

Often when we communicate, we do it in a way that suits us, based on the things that we care about. In order to really be effective, though, we need to consider how the receiver needs to hear it or receive it. 

Think about what your boss needs to know - what is important to them? What deadlines are they facing? What push back are they navigating? And what do they need to know from you that will help them?  HINT: it probably won't be a super long, novel style essay email that they don’t have time to read (sorry - I said what I said).  Extra HINT: It also probably won't be a laundry list of your task list that you share with them in your 1:1 catch up that doesn't actually tell them any more than just the dimensions of your job. Talk to them about outputs and outcomes. What is your hard work delivering on? What outcomes is it providing to the team or your department? This is powerful information that your boss can then take and provide to their stakeholders setting you and them up for success.  

Practical Step to help you: Understand the ways in which your key stakeholders like to communicate. For example, if your boss prefers direct and concise information, don’t provide them with a novel every time they ask you something. Or, if you have a stakeholder who prefers to talk through things together, ensure you leverage that communication style.  Key takeaway is to know your audience, always. 

Be an Amplifier through solid Collaboration with Others

Ain't nobody got time for silos and knowledge hoarding! 

If you really want to be seen as someone who ‘gets it’ - be that person who amplifies success, not someone who detracts from it.  If there is an issue with another department, sort it out. Don’t hide behind your computer screen sending passive-aggressive emails, or b*tching by the water cooler to your team, and then tell your manager that it is the other department's fault.  Go and discuss the ways in which you can work together to solve problems.  Trust me, your boss will thank you for it. In fact, your whole organisation will! 

Practical Step to help you: Find ways to sincerely recognise and appreciate the contributions of your peers during meetings, or through a team communication channel. Social proof goes a long way to encouraging behaviour to continue.

The Bottom Line: 

If you're aiming to impress your boss this year and really stand out as someone with leadership potential, take the reins of your professional development - be an impact player, stay ahead of the curve, communicate effectively, and foster a truly collaborative and constructive spirit. Not only will your boss be thrilled, but you’ll also be the one in the driver's seat of your own career and leadership success instead of relying on hope as a strategy. 

PS I help Organisations KEEP their best talent, and I help individuals to BE the best talent that everyone wants in their teams. If you or your Organisation could benefit from learning the key leadership skills required to drive positive change inside your organisation, then reach out and let’s connect.