What do bosses wish their team members knew without having to articulate it in quite so many words? You might be surprised, but quite a few things, actually. Most of them would stem from life lessons learnt from their own bosses. Some of them would have come the hard way, some by quiet observation. Why is this important? Because some of the most important pieces of communication are the ones that people never speak out loud, and bosses, however inhuman, are included in this classification. Yet most bosses would want you to have the benefit of their experience and knowledge.
Here are a dozen such bits of advice. No boss-speak, no corporate messaging, just heart-felt advice delivered in plain, sincere, one-on-one fashion:
- Be better informed. I always want to know what you think. I value your honest opinion. But I wish you read more and were more aware, so that your opinion would be better informed and I could count on it more. It’s keeping track of information, trends and happenings combined with your perspective on them that makes your opinion knowledgeable and valuable to me. One without the other is just that – a half-opinion.
- Take pride in your work. I want to set you up for success, always. But I wish you would take more pride in your work. I wish you not be so easily satisfied but rather, compare yourself to the world’s best and see where you lack. I wish you demanded more of yourself, set your standards higher and delivered the best job you are capable of.
- Opt to be an owner. You want more responsibility and that’s great! But there is one thing that you need to remember when I give you a job. It’s called ownership. When I give you a critical assignment, I wish you would drive it. I wish you would think about it on your own time. I wish you would dream about it. That’s being an owner. Those are the kind of people that are hard to find in this world. Be one. And I promise you’ll always be in demand.
- Take criticism positively. I wish I could criticize your work without you becoming defensive. My opinions are never directed at you personally. It’s always about getting the best work out there. That’s part of growth.
- We’re on the same side. Occasionally, I wish you would see things from my perspective. I may be your boss but I too, am accountable. I can’t always deliver things you want, in a jiffy. Especially the biggies that impact organizational policies and structures. I need permissions too. I can’t always see things from just your perspective, I have to map things against a larger point of view than just yours or mine. It’s not about what you or I need; it’s about what the business needs.
- Fun is the job. I never want you to lose that gleam in your eye. It’s that ‘happy-at-work’ sign that tells me I am doing my job well. I want this job to be the challenge that takes your career ahead. I want you to like me and remember me, even after you move on to another organization. I’ve had some great bosses and the reason I try to be one is that I owe them big.
- Mediocrity is expensive. I know that the common belief is that achievement comes at a price. Late nights, acid burn from too many pizzas, irate partners, guilt from the let-down expressions on children’s faces; this list is apparently long and endless. But I wish you knew that there is a price you pay for mediocrity, too. A fact no one tells you. And there is nothing romantic about consistent failure, which is what mediocrity really is.
- Recognition comes after performance. I want you to realize that there is no such thing as a promotion. Every promotion is actually a validation of a role you are already doing. So if you want a promotion, do keep this in mind and the promotion will follow.
- Name it, you have to earn it. Everything in the workplace is earned. Trust, faith, respect, status and money. You need to earn it all. And that needs hard work and determination. You can’t grudge the effort that goes into making a career.
- Practice gratitude. While the effort you put in is critical for your success, do be appreciative of your organization and the opportunities it gives you, your colleagues and the support they provide, and hey, once in a while you can even thank me. In between the carping, the demanding, the kicking and the screaming, that is. Being grateful keeps you grounded.
- Success is a choice. There is no such thing as work-life balance. It’s a myth. Don’t read what people write and talk about – watch what achievers do. They are single-minded to the point of wearing blinkers. They are focused and nothing gets in their way. They have no desire for balance – work is their life. Their chosen life. Success is a choice.
- Act now. We all have to make choices – so do you. How important is work to you? If it is, then the choices come easy, without complaining, without teetering on the fence. I wish you would make yours and then get on with living them. It’ll make your life easier. And mine too.
Image by Kheel Center, Cornell University via Flickr (cc)
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About Kaanchan Bugga
Kaanchan is the editor-in-chief of wwwireframe. She’s like the force; has a light side, a dark side, and holds the universe together on most days.