Communicate. I implore you. That’s right- implore!

If you hadn’t figured out by now, I’m kind of a goody goody.  And a rule-follower.  And I tend to respect anyone who’s in a position of authority.  I know, it’s insane.  I’m not saying this makes me a better person.  It doesn’t.  In fact, it sometimes causes me a lot of stress over things that most people wouldn’t even care about.  Sometimes it means that people think I judge them when I don’t.  Sometimes people call me uptight, or controlling, or dramatic (although that’s not always related, I guess).

But you know one thing it is good for?  Being a good employee.  Being a trusted employee.  Being somebody that other people like (or at least don’t mind) working with.  And some other stuff too, but that’s already more than the one thing I said it was good for, so I’ll stop.

You know what’s funny?  Most of the time, the stuff that my bosses like about me, the things that I do that make them trust me… it’s not anything crazy. It’s not even me being a goody goody (although the reason I do stuff like this is because I am a rule follower). In fact, it’s just me doing simple things that are just a PART OF MY JOB!  I’m not doing extra projects- I’m just doing my JOB.  And they’re like “THANK YOU!”

Recently I’ve had two different superiors thank me, for basically the same thing. What was it?  Working a bunch of extra hours?  Tackling a big project?  Covering for someone else who was sick?  Nope.  They thanked me for communicating.

Communicating?  Really?  YES!  All I did was answer their e-mails in a timely fashion.  I also e-mailed them and let them know when I had a problem, needed help, or solved an issue. Basically, I kept them in the loop and responded to their e-mails.

Guys, are we really not doing this?  Are people really not telling their bosses stuff and/or ignoring e-mails to the point where those of us who do get little gold stars for something that shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  It’s an integral part of my job, so to me it’s actually kind of ridiculous that I get praised for it… but I’ll take it because of course I’m also a people pleaser.

My point is, well, I have 2.  Number 1- a lot of times if you simply do your job, you’d be surprised how far that takes you.  Not always, but a lot of bosses are less concerned that you be their star player, than that you simply show up and do what’s required of you.  If you do that, which, surprisingly, a lot of people don’t, you don’t need to be watched, which takes an extra thing off their to-do list. If you can do more, great.  But if you’re at a job you hate or are not passionate about, but have to keep it, well, just do your job at the very least.

Number 2- communicate!  I am not really concerned with sending too many e-mails.  I have, basically, 4 bosses that I can report to directly, and I do.  I tell my boss onboard what happened during the day, I’ll e-mail her right away if I need to change my schedule.  My bosses off the ship, I make sure I respond to all of their e-mails, but I also make sure I send them messages to let them know if something of note happens, even if they don’t ask about it.  I give them a summary my work and my experience periodically.  I should be e-mailing one of them at least once per week if not more.  And I’m not saying “look at me! I’m awesome, please acknowledge me.”  I’m just being open and telling them what’s going on.  Sometimes I don’t get a response, but I don’t really care, that’s not the point.  The point is to keep communication open.  They see me in person MAYBE once a year (one of them I’ve never even met), so if I’m not communicating, how will I be on their mind  as a possibility the next time they want to assign a new project, etc.?  Wait, that’s not even the point- If I’m not communicating, how will the even know ANYTHING about me at all?

I think this is REALLY important if you’re a freelancer (or really anyone working remotely for their boss or bosses).  If your client (your boss for that project) or your boss is giving you a month to do something… they should hear from you more than when you accept the offer/acknowledge the project and then again when you complete it.  Let them know how it’s going periodically.  Give them a report (ps- don’t get in a huff- a report can just be a statement of your progress, no charts and graphs needed!) of your progress periodically.  If applicable, ask for their feedback WELL BEFORE THE DEADLINE.  And if they’re contacting you, respond!  In a timely manner!

AND!  If there’s a problem- don’t hide it.  Communicate it.  Even if it’s uncomfortable.  If you don’t, and the problem gets worse, your boss will get annoyed with you for not addressing it earlier. Or they’ll operate under a certain assumption, not knowing there’s a problem, and you could even make them look like an idiot for not knowing about something.  Unnecessary conflict can arise, as well as bigger problems.  If only the small problems had been dealt with from the beginning… but how can someone deal with any issue if they simply don’t know about it?  And sometimes it’s your job to communicate bad news so that it doesn’t get worse.

This is not hard.  It’s one of those things that’s a part of every job.  And it’s amazing the response you get when you actually do it.

What do you think?  Also, any other EASY things you can do at your job to make things go better for you and the group you work for?

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