What’s the Boss Really Thinking?

Whether you’re a new employee or a veteran, just starting your career or angling for a promotion to senior management, you probably spend considerable time wondering what the boss is really thinking. Is the boss scrutinizing your performance? Do you have something to worry about? What is he or she looking for? What can you do to impress the manager and climb the company ladder? How will you attract any notice sitting in that corner cubicle? These are questions I asked myself when I started my first job. What did the boss want? What could I do to impress he or she so I could advance my career?

As the CEO of a successful company, I no longer have to wonder what the boss is thinking, but I can give you some ideas of what I think, as well as the qualities I seek in an employee.

I want people who are competent in their jobs. Whenever they are given new tasks, I want to be confident that they will successfully complete them – each and every time. Competence is critical. When starting a new job, you must become very skilled, very fast. Learn the position inside and out. If you do this, you will attract the notice of leadership.

I want fast learners – people who can adapt quickly and learn new tasks and responsibilities. People who are fast learners, who don’t require a lot of training or handholding, are more likely to impress senior management than those who need an inordinate amount of time to “hit the ground running.”

I look for professionalism – for employees who behave, dress and think like pros. If you come across as a professional in your encounters with customers, colleagues and management, you will eventually reap big dividends. This may seem hard to believe, but true professionalism is a rare, but highly prized, commodity in today’s workforce.

I’m always seeking reliability. I’m no dictator, but I do expect that employees will show up for work on time, and won’t make a habit of calling in sick. Yes, people sometimes get sick. That’s understandable. I’m not referring to the occasional absence. I’m talking about the employee who routinely carves out three- and four-day weekends for themselves by claiming to be sick every other Friday and/or Monday. Even the most talented team member offers less value if he or she’s frequently away from the office.

I want employees to always try their best – even if they occasionally fail. I don’t hold failure against my employees. If you try your best and do everything you can to serve the interests of the company and its customers, I will take notice – even if you sometimes mess up. Everyone make mistakes, but not everyone consistently tries his or her best.

I want people to develop a thorough knowledge of the business. Study what your company does and develop a working expertise. If I stop by to talk, I want to see that you really understand who we are as an organization and what we’re trying to accomplish. Nothing’s worse than encountering an employee who doesn’t understand the core business. If you’re speaking with a higher level manager, make sure you understand your role within the company and how you can supply value.

If you’re nervous when interacting with executives, keep in mind that not all of us harbor hidden agendas. We don’t have some master plan for ruining your career. Dues do need to be paid, but we will notice people who are working hard to excel. A good boss has no reason to hold anybody back. As leaders, we want the best and brightest to rise to the top. In the end, it makes our jobs easier and facilitates our ability to grow the company for ourselves and our customers.