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Impress your boss by learning to prioritize the most impactful work



justin angsuwat
“What impact am I having?”
asks Justin Angsuwat, pictured.

Courtesy of Thumbtack

  • You won’t wow your boss by
    doing absolutely everything. Instead, prioritize the work that
    will have the most impact — and say “no” to everything
  • That’s according to Justin Angsuwat, vice president of
    people at Thumbtack and former human-resources executive at
  • Angsuwat said he doesn’t reward people who just seem
    busy, but it seems that other managers and industries to some
    extent do.

First one at the office in the morning? Last one out at night?
Justin Angsuwat doesn’t really care.

Angsuwat is the vice president of people at Thumbtack, an online platform
that connects people with local professionals; he was previously
the head of human resources for Google’s go-to-market functions.
So he’s spent a lot of time thinking about how to evaluate
employees’ performance.

Angsuwat said he often sees people trying to wow their manager by
doing absolutely everything. This is a mistake.

At Thumbtack and at Google, Angsuwat said, “we rarely reward
people who just seem busy.” Hence the indifference to who spends
the most time at their desk. “We would rather reward those who
are having an impact through the work they do.”

To be sure, some managers and organizations value time spent
working more than others — even if employees aren’t actually
being very productive during that time.

Erin Reid, an associate professor of human resources and
management at McMaster University, studied
a global consulting firm
and found that many men simply
pretend to log
80-hour workweeks
. That way, they can impress their superiors
with their dedication to the company while still spending time
with their families.

But Angsuwat’s broader point is that results are key. He said,
“The single best way to impress your boss is showing you can
prioritize the things that matter and then executing well on
those things.”

Read more:
An HR exec who’s worked at Starbucks and Coach shares the best
way to impress your boss

Always keep in mind how your work contributes to the organization
as a whole

That necessarily means that you’ll often have to muster “the
courage to say ‘no’ to some things,” Angsuwat said. In fact, you
might even need to say “no” to your manager.

As Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of
Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior
and Thrive in Your Job,

previously told Business Insider
, you might say something
like: “I would be happy to do that project, but what that could
mean is that [whatever other project you’re working on] will have
to be put off until tomorrow, because I was actually going to
spend the next three hours finishing that proposal. Would you
like me to put that off?”

That is to say, frame your response in terms of doing your best
work for the organization.

It’s also important to learn what your boss really cares about
and deliver on that, also known as “managing up.” Dave Kerpen,
founder and CEO of Likeable Local,
previously told Business Insider
that managing up is about
“helping your manager look great to his or her manager.” Kerpen
recommends either asking your boss directly what’s important to
them or subtly trying to figure it out on your own.

“The key to impressing your boss is not doing lots of things, but
doing the right things,” Angsuwat said. “Ultimately, it’s being
able to answer the question, ‘What impact am I having?”

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