Here’s the One Thing You Can Do Right Now to Impress Your Boss

That long-awaited promotion will be on your desk in no time.

employeeracorn/ShutterstockDuring a meeting with her editorial team, Maggie Murphy, editorial director of the magazine app Texture, requested a solution to a problem. But as she stared at her colleagues’ blank faces, she had a terrible realization. Murphy’s team needed her “blessing to solve a problem they were perfectly capable of solving themselves,” she writes for Motto.

That experience reminded her of the lesson she just taught her seven-year-old daughter while on vacation. Maeve had always expected her mom to find her flip-flops until one day, Murphy finally asked, “Tonight, can you find your own flip-flops?” Ta-da! Turns out, one simple question was all it took for her daughter to claim responsibility for her issue. As for the flip-flops? They never went missing again.

Same goes for Murphy’s editorial team. They believed that they needed her input for every single decision. But Murphy had bigger tasks to complete than managing the details of everyday operation.

“The last thing I wanted to be was a micro-managing editor unable to see the horizon because I was lost in the blur of day-to-day,” Murphy said. “Just as I needed to teach my child tenacity and grit, I needed to show the staff how to become more self-directed and authoritative.”

The solution to this common workplace dilemma: “Smart bosses want you to make a call—or at least to try to,” Murphy says.

In the workplace, no one will hold your hand through a project or assignment. Bosses have the responsibility to guide you and ensure that the job gets done, but they also expect you to problem solve and present a solution when needed. It’s a trait that bosses really notice about their employees, Murphy says, and it will make you a better coworker, as well.

So the next time you run into a monumental roadblock, try solving it first before running to your boss’s office. (And by the way, you should never, ever say these things to your boss.)

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.