It’s a common, unnerving sight that no employee wants to see: Your boss is at the office before you arrive every morning. And he/she is still there when you leave every night. Adding to that stomach-sinking sensation is the fact that your Monday morning inbox is full of emails your boss sent the team over the weekend. Instead of being inspired by your boss’s ubiquitous presence, you start to wonder, “Does this person have a life?” Now, it’s not like you’re some slouch. You hustle and hit every deadline that’s given to you. You tackle extra projects thrown your way. But after clocking eight or nine hours at the office, you go home. Do you have to match his/her marathon pace to get ahead?
Not necessarily, experts say. “You can impress a workaholic boss by achieving just as much as he or she does without letting work hijack your personal life,” says Kirstin O’Donovan, productivity coach at Top Results Coaching and author of Maximize Your Time to Maximize Your Profits.
These pointers will help you prove your worth without becoming a workaholic.
Make your impact obvious
Show your boss what results you’re achieving by sending a summary at the end of the day or week. But when you send along these progress reports, focus on what you accomplished and the impact of your work—not the hours you logged to do it.
“That is where your responsibility lies—in ensuring you get results and make them visible to your boss,” O’Donovan says. It’s critical that you share with your boss all the progress you made during the workweek. “If you are not communicating clearly, your boss might not see or grasp how much you are getting done. Make sure they know and understand.”
Step up your productivity
Once you’ve shifted the focus on how much you get done, and not how long you spend doing it, start working on increasing your efficiency.
Begin by identifying and eliminating “time thieves,” and managing potential distractions such as email and interruptions from chatty co-workers. “You can still get the same amount of work done as your workaholic boss if you learn how to free up time every day by applying time-management skills,” O’Donovan says.
Then move on to planning and prioritizing your workload. “Some people spend too much time working because they think everything is urgent,” says Cathy Sexton, productivity specialist with The Productivity Experts in St. Louis. “Start the day off with the top three things you must complete today based on importance and deadlines. When asked to do something else, you now have something to weigh it against before taking it on.”
If your boss has prioritization suggestions, take that advice, says Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. And be proactive to show your boss you are on the lookout for new solutions. “If there are some policy changes, software updates or organizational shifts that could skyrocket your productivity, share that with your boss as well.”
Exercise your limits
It’s important to set healthy boundaries that allow you to achieve your professional goals while meeting your other life goals as well. When you’re asked to work overtime for multiple days in a row, or you’re expected to always be on call, you need to speak up. Do this by framing your need for time off in terms of a long-term benefit to your employer. “Explain that having time to yourself or time with your family is an essential part of your productivity plan, and it’s critical to helping you avoid burnout,” Morin says.
Sometimes, however, you will need to stay late at the office to pitch in with special projects or last-minute deadlines. Be flexible enough to put in extra hours temporarily, especially if you know doing so could help put you on your boss’s radar and advance your career goals. Just remember to return to your normal schedule when the project has passed.
“There should always be a clear short-term goal when you’re putting in extra time,” Morin says. “It should be apparent how the extra time you’re putting in is directly related to the goal.”