Don’t Make the Boss’ Job More Difficult

In the 50 years since I started my first job, I have been an employee for 20 years and an employer for 30 years. In my roles as employee, then employer, I have often marveled at some people’s absence of awareness of a fundamental workplace principle: Don’t make the boss’ job more difficult. There are certain people, in the context of the workplace, who truly understand where they fit in the corporate structure. These people are usually great employees, due to their commitment to doing their job timely, accurately, and with a commitment to the overall goals of their supervisor(s) as well as the organization as a whole. For a time, soon after I began my professional career after graduate school, I had a fantastic secretary/administrative assistant named Rosemary. Rosemary did everything she could do to help me perform my work, including making me look good to my boss. She arrived to work earlier than I did and always turned on the light in my office, opened the blinds, and pulled out my chair so that I could go to work upon my arrival. Her actions were also aimed at making it look like I had arrived on the frequent occasions when I reported for work later than my boss. At the end of every work day, Rosemary always asked if there was anything else I would like her to do to help me before her departure. Needless to say, I missed her helpful and cheerful attitude when she got a promotion and began working as my boss’ assistant. Magnus has had some great employees who have strived to make David’s and my lives better by helping us in every way they can, while others have been tiresome examples of unhelpfulness. The last person terminated from Magnus was incompetent to the point that I began doing her work, lest she ruin things, thereby causing me even more work in correcting her mistakes. In my opinion, one of the primary purposes of employees is to make the boss’ job better, not more difficult, by doing everything possible to be helpful, competent, and cheerful throughout the workday.

I knew Rosemary, Melissa’s assistant at the hospital where they worked.  Rosemary was the epitome of professionalism and did her job in an excellent fashion which is why it was not long that she went from working for Melissa to working for Melissa’s boss.  In the 30+ years of Magnus we have, fortunately, had team members who understood their role as to their job functions and as to how they fit in our, rather flat, hierarchy.  It is great that a few of these are still with us, but sad that so many saw their employment as being about getting a paycheck and doing only what they thought were the narrow range of tasks for which they were responsible.  Come “quittin’ time,” they were gone!  (And, these folks are gone in many other regards.)  Worrying about such employees does not make the boss’ job easier.  And, I suppose, making the boss’ job easier, or not making it harder, should be job #1.  With that viewpoint, all else follows.  As a boss, and more so as an employer, there are many things on my mind about which employees are unaware.  I am sure it’s true that I don’t know what they are going through in life, unless they choose to tell all, which some have.  But the pressures of running a small business keep us focused on the tasks at hand.  And, as owners, that is not a 9 to 5 thing.  I’m not suggesting employees need to work overtime on a regular basis.  But, they need to always be aware of where they fit into the overall scheme of things.  And, in today’s world of remote working, I think it is more important than ever to do things to make oneself known and valuable.  Endearing oneself to the boss by focusing on the big picture goes a long way to career growth.  This is not the same as the dreaded “butt kisser.”  It is opening one’s eyes to how their role fits into the scheme of things.  In many ways, we are all cogs in the system.   How big a cog one is varies.  Believe me, Melissa and I know where we stand vis a vis the ones who are writing checks to us, i.e., our clients.  Keeping your head up and looking beyond yourself leads to much more success than does keeping the head down and hoping no one notices.  

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