Knowing that your work is appreciated can be one of the greatest motivators in the workplace.
Numerous studies and surveys have shown that positive feedback is a cheap, yet immensely powerful productivity-boosting tool.
Unfortunately, some bosses seem not to have read any of those studies yet.
You may have confidence in the quality of your work and maybe even receive a lot of acclaims from your coworkers.
But when it comes to your boss you may as well be running the company down into the gutters. No pat on the back, no complement and no nod of approval sent your way no matter what you achieve.
Your boss walks around in a stoic mood, never showing any sign they appreciate your latest sales results or software release. Or, maybe s/he pounces on you at the slightest mistake, when in fact you do great work, overall.
Though frustrating to work with such bosses, their behavior doesn’t mean that they don’t like you. They may just show it differently.
Since they won’t say it, there are a few signs of approval you can look for in their words and actions.
How they interact with you, the kind of projects you are assigned and the growth opportunities you are afforded all say a lot about your boss’ attitude towards you and your work.
Here are three most telling signs your boss likes you.
This a highly reliable sign that your boss likes you and/or appreciates your work.
But it can be hard to see it that way, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the scope and number of projects being dumped on you.
It may feel especially unfair, if other employees don’t seem to get similarly challenging responsibilities.
But, bottom-line, if your boss is picking you over others for the most challenging tasks – it could be a good thing.
For one, they are essentially saying that you are one of the most qualified people in the office for the job. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be trusted with such major responsibilities.
That’s also why you will often find yourself tasked with the most important and sensitive projects. Your track record has earned you the trust and confidence of your boss.
Second, and this is the one that I find most important, they have decided to challenge you.
Through more challenging responsibilities, your boss is providing opportunities for growth. Like a teacher keeps challenging her best student to make them better, so does your boss.
For all you know, he or she might be grooming you for an important position in the company and they want to be sure that you are ready for it.
If you find yourself in this situation, try your best to keep up with the challenges. See them as opportunities for growth and try to learn as much as you can. You can even volunteer for some of these tasks before they are handed to you.
Of course remember that you also have limits. If you are too overwhelmed, productivity will go down. Don’t hesitate to request for more time or resources to do your job better.
If you find that your boss is constantly asking for your input, it means they like you. This is especially the case if they ask for your recommendations and idea both within and beyond your skill area. Don’t be surprised if the boss starts asking what you think about important company-wide matters as if you are part of management.
As with the previous point, take special note if you seem to attract more attention from the boss than other employees. Whether it’s in meetings, brainstorming sessions or simple chitchats, he or she is constantly asking for your input on one thing or the other.
This situation may also happen indirectly. Your colleagues are often directed to you when they have questions or suggestions on a particular matter.
All these are indications of your boss increasingly relying on your expertise and smart thinking, even on matters beyond your scope of work.
But be careful not to get your head in the clouds. Don’t provide input on an area you are not very familiar with. Your boss will not think any less of you if you don’t have brilliant ideas for everything.
On the other hand, don’t get nervous. Take it as a positive sign that you are doing good work and try your best to help where you can.
It would also be a good idea to start learning a bit more about different areas and departments of the company. Find out what the biggest challenges facing the company are and possible solutions.
The next time the boss requests your input on marketing to millennials, for example, you can suggest a great idea with confidence.
This is the most important indication of all.
Your boss may not give you compliments for work well done. But if they clearly respect you and ask for your opinion on important matters – especially in a public setting – then that’s a true-tell sign they like your performance.
In fact, I would say that having your boss’s respect is more important than having them like you. And in any case, the two often go together. If they respect you, they also often will like you.
So don’t fret if you have an aloof boss who only points out your mistakes.
If they show respect for you and your position in the company, that’s all you need.
It’s easy to be liked for a moment because of a couple of nice things you have done.
But real, public respect takes a while to cultivate and says much more about your character and work quality than anything else.
You can tell whether your boss respects you by whether they include you in important conversations, ask for your input and allow you to exercise reasonable control over your work without constantly looking over your shoulder.
It’s also possible that your boss doesn’t like you at all.
In that case, you just have to try and do the best work you can.
I'm a 40-something senior executive in the tech industry who's personally hired more than 100 people. I also sit on the board of a leading recruiting/headhunter agency.
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