Do you ever wonder what your manager really expects from you? Are you worried that you’re not living up to your expectations? How do your colleagues perceive you? Do you come across as a team player or a liability?
Managers often have a bad reputation for being petty tyrants, demanding and possessing unrealistic expectations. Some are the embodiment of all of the horrible clichés, while other bosses are just more realistic. Speaking with thousands of hiring managers over the years, I’ve noticed a consensus of what they really desire in an employee. Surprisingly, most often, they do not demand all that much. Their biggest requirement is fairly reasonable. They would like someone who possesses the skills, relevant experience, background and education suited for the position. They want a person who could hit the ground running fairly quickly and add immediate value. Once aboard, managers seek other character traits. The same holds true for co-workers. They tend to desire certain qualities in their colleagues—and those who possess them are held in high esteem.
Here are some of the very basic things that managers desire in an employee. They are not too hard to accomplish. In fact, they’re really simple, straightforward and easy to do.
- Come into work with a decent attitude. You don’t have to always be happy and smiling. Just try to be positive, helpful, noncritical and a team player.
- When arriving at the office, make sure that—at the very least—you’re on time. Preferably, come in a little early. Avoid coming in late, then compounding the mistake by leaving work early. Don’t be that guy who comes in at the crack of 9:20 a.m., then leaves right away to get coffee, comes back and kibitz with your co-workers. Just get right to work. If someone is going on a coffee run, pay for it and stay at your desk.
- Display a strong work ethic. Don’t shirk responsibilities. Don’t work hard at avoiding work. Just do the job that’s asked of you. If you want to shine, go above and beyond what’s asked of you. If you want to take it to the next level, ask your manager what else you could help her with.
- People notice your facial expressions, body language and hear the soft muttering under your breath. It drives managers crazy. It’s juvenile behavior. Even if you want to flip off your boss, smile politely. It’s okay to have a calm, intelligent and reasoned conversation that expresses your concerns, as opposed to passive-aggressive actions. They will respect you if you clearly articulate your concerns and suggestions. However, if you act like a petulant child, you’ll be treated like one.
- Show a little energy, passion and drive for what you do. If you don’t feel it, act like you do. Avoid deep sighs, grunts, stomping around the office and coming across as annoyed. This won’t win you friends and will make a lot of enemies. Nobody, except other malcontents, enjoy the company of someone who is unmotivated and an imbecile.
- Take advice, criticism and feedback with grace. It is offered to help you grow and learn. Don’t view it as a personal attack, get angry and start yelling back. Digest the constructive feedback, as it may be valuable.
- Do your homework and always be prepared. Know when you have a meeting scheduled or project to accomplish. Show up early for the meeting, demonstrate interest by asking questions and participating. Make sure that your tasks and projects are finished before the deadline. If you’re having trouble, ask for help.
- Don’t just do enough to get by. Try to go the extra mile—or at least the extra yard. You’ll never get anywhere in business by doing the bare minimum.
- Have some manners. Smile and say “hello” to people. Look others in the eyes and listen to them when they speak. Don’t hit the “door close” button on the elevator when someone is frantically running to catch it. Offer congratulations when someone does a good job. Lend a hand when it’s needed. Avoid being that guy who yells at someone on the phone, making everyone else feel uncomfortable.
This is all you need to succeed—that simple. I’ll add one more bonus point. Put yourself in the shoes of your boss. Think of what you would want in an employee. Consider what a great team member would do to make themselves invaluable. Give some thought to all of the pressures and responsibilities that she has on her shoulders. Once you take this into consideration, then act the way you would want someone to behave if you were in charge.