2 habits that show you are trustworthy and mature

I know a developer who lusts after all the sexy projects. He asks for them and he wants to talk about them. You might think this kind of enthusiasm makes you a star in your boss’s eyes. And it can, up to a point. But what if my developer wants to talk about the sexy projects with a handful of unfinished ones still on his plate?

That’s a dangerous habit for your career because it can give your boss the impression that you’re a lightweight – someone who will try to take on everything that comes your way leaving unfinished and half-ass work in your wake.

Those who really succeed, do so by handling a few important projects really well. Below are two critical ingredients to making that happen.

the importance of knowing your bosses priorities1. Know your boss’s priorities and live by them. He’s the one who decides what’s important and what’s not. If you are not getting clear guidance, you’ll need to ask questions until you really know how to rank what you’re working on. Help your boss understand the trade-offs.

If you want to talk about something that’s not  currently near the top of your list of important projects, make sure you first give an update on the top projects presently underway before bringing up a new subject.

2. Say ‘no’ when low priority items will degrade your performance on important projects. Just as it’s tempting for you to take on every project your boss mentions, it’s also tempting for your boss to give you too many projects. We all have eyes that are too big for our stomachs. When you say ‘no,’ you are simply introducing some reality into the discussion and that’s a mark of maturity.

You’d be wise to say ‘no’ gently, however. You might say something like “Eric, can you help me prioritize that in relation to my other projects?” and follow up with “Based on those priorities, I’ll probably be hitting that project next quarter, does that work for you?”

When you focus religiously on your boss’s priorities, you’ll earn a reputation for strong execution, for accepting guidance well and good teamwork. Your boss will know that you understand the meaning of ‘less is more’.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to remove.”

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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  • Trisha Uy

    My preceptor once told me to “work smarter, not harder.” As a new nurse, I’ve always found myself focusing on the little things that leads me to forget to look at the bigger picture. I am always finding myself needing more time of the day to finish my work load. I have been a perfectionist that it was hard for me to let go of the small details. This advice from my preceptor has resonated with me since then and I found myself finishing my task earlier, being more comfortable delegating tasks to my nursing aids, and managing my day better. I found the sense of accomplishment knowing that working harder does not always mean better.

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In 1997, Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish at LatPro.com. Eric still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc., developer of JustJobs.com. He lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls.

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