10 Ways To Make An Impression On Your Boss

Workplace relationships are critical to life. No one wants to spend 1/3 of their waking hours stressed out and on edge around people they can’t cope with. And there’s no relationship more important to your workplace sanity, and career, than with your boss. You want your boss to be on your side, therefore they need to feel you’re on their side. Here’s how to make an impression with your boss and put your best foot forward.

Being able to do your work well is important, but many times the most successful people are those that work well with others. You don’t have to aim to be best buds with your boss, but it’s helpful if they think highly of you. You definitely need, and want, to be respected. Make an impression, grow the respect, and you’ll find as they and others respect your competence you’ll be more capable on the job. After you make the right impression you’ll find more confidence and that can only help you go further.

When you make an impression on your boss you’ll hopefully avoid the person who dislikes you like hell. Getting to live under the sunshine of her or his good graces usually spells getting the first chance at a new opportunity and a little bit of leniency the next time you blow it.

Before You Try to Make An Impression-Know This First

Like most relationships you make an impression not through one action, but through several. A work relationship grows no differently. But if you are far removed from your boss, or even your boss’ boss, make sure you take that opportunity to make an impression very seriously. Some boss’ that have a minimal view of a direct report allow one impression to make a “halo” or “pitchfork” affect.

If you only get one or two opportunities to make an impression, make sure you are very prepared and on point for that interaction. If you have frequent interactions, know that you’ll get more than one chance, but don’t be quick to be lax.

10. Be Well-Groomed

Didn’t think I’d go there, did you? This could possibly be the most influential while easiest to affect factor to make an impression.

Make sure you wear well-fitting close. Not too loose and baggy with extra cloth hanging off you. And don’t wear stuff that’s so tight your gut is ready to tear the buttons of your shirt off.

how to make an impression on your boss

When you don’t trim, you look like the Unibrow Terrorist.

There’s a lot of debate about facial grooming. Of course find out what’s appropriate at your workplace. Fortunately, I get away with some beardage at my workplace. But what about some gentleman’s hair on the other side of their neck? And I mean the back of their necks. That disgusting lion’s mane needs to be cut, trimmed and even shaved just like the front side of your neck.

Speaking of unsightly hair, make sure you don’t have crazy nose or ear hairs busting out, as well as keep your chest a least a little manscaped if you sport the V-necks.

Also…unibrows aren’t yet in style.

9. Keep Your Boss In the Loop

If there’s a larger project coming along, give them status updates they don’t even have to reply to. Giving them the FYI on the most pertinent details of what’s coming along will make an impression that you stay on top of things and can be trusted. From my own experience, when people gave me frequent updates on something coming to fruition, it kept me informed for the random questioning that I might receive from my own bosses. And when I looked good, my people look good. Remember that…

8. Make Your Boss Look Goodhow to make an impression on your boss

When your boss looks good, you look good. You want to advance, right? It’s hard to advance when you work under someone who is overlooked and shunned. But when a manager is winning, the people in higher places know that he or she didn’t do it on their own. Often they’ll want to find out who the best personnel are that are making a difference in the office. The more your boss shines, the more their team gets some solar rays as well.

How do you make your boss look good and make an impression? Get your reports done on time. Don’t just fill out the numbers—give them a few quick lines of synopsis about what really matters. Highlight to them wins everyone should know about, and give them answers for anything that didn’t go as planned. Since you’re the one closest to the “work” that’s getting done, you’re the one best prepared to help your boss articulate that upward. And the better they articulate about your day to day to their bosses, the more resources that will come down to you.

7. Show Them That You’re Learning

Put some books on your shelves (that you’ve read) and industry materials on your desk. Make an impression that you are a consistent learner and growing. Refer to stuff you’ve watched and read and how it’s affected your thinking.

6. Keep Your Office Sharp

how to make an impression on your boss

I’m sure this person has no problem focusing.

I’m the King of Bad Office Space. If you could ask my old assistant Sarah how I wanted her to keep my office tidy, she might look at you with a disturbed look on her face. That’s because I didn’t even know what I was asking for or what a sharp office should look like. If you like working in controlled mayhem, I feel ya. But for the sake of the impression you’re trying to make, you might want to enlist some help and keep your office or desk space looking professional.

5. Talk Like Your Boss

One of the most important things I did early in my career was read every single one of the books my boss had written. I understand their vision and how to articulate like them. They could easily sense this about me and had no problem having me speak to groups on their behalf.

Even if your boss isn’t an author, you should still find ways to absorb their articulation. When they say something striking, let them see you write it down. Ask them to say it again so you can grab it. I do this with my current boss all the time. If she says something that represents what we’re doing in an excellent, concise way, I ask her to repeat it and I write it down.

4. Disagree Respectfully

That means at the right time. Not in front of a group. Possibly in front of no one at all. And if you disagree, make sure you are ready to articulate why. Stating that you don’t like an idea without being able to explain your basis will not make an impression you’re looking for.

how to make an impression on your boss

Some people like enough data to have their brains fried.

3. Know If They Are Data Or Relationship Driven

What type of stuff do they want to know? If they are a data driven boss, know your stats and be ready to drop them. Appearing on point and prepared will always make an impression.

Is your boss more concerned with the process or the people involved? Make sure you have positive stories to tell when you give your next update.

2. Show That You’re Listening

In my former life I made 5+ presentations a week to groups of 20-300 people. When I first started public speaking I wasn’t very expressive, and was a little stiff. Over time I worked really hard to become much more expressive physically and facially. This really pays off now when engaging people in everyday conversation or meeting with people for work.

Where it doesn’t pay off is when I need to hide my “tell”. You know how poker players have some sort of personal tick or signal they try to conceal as to not tip their hand? I’m always trying to hide how expressive I am around my boss. When frustrating news comes or a conversation is dragging on, you want to hide being overly expressive.

If your boss is a repeater-the manager who says the same thing 3 different ways for 15 minutes straight-you want to carry yourself in a fully engaged manner. Don’t reveal that you think you’ve already heard what they’re saying for the last two eternities—keep engaged and present yourself as focused.

There may be a few reasons this person is repeating themselves:

A) They are trying to convey the same information in multiple ways so you can also be well-versed at articulating it. (As a director I actually found myself doing this frequently—probably to the dismay of the people who worked with me!)

B) It’s really really important that you understand what’s being said. They want to overcommunicate the goods and need you to respond with assurance that you know what’s up.

C) And some people just feel gratified having an audience. This person may need to repeat themselves even out of an insecurity. If you don’t carry yourself in a way that affirms they’re being heard, you might torpedo yourself in their eyes!

1. Drop the Good Newshow to make an impression on your boss

Did you know the guy that has nothing good to report is usually the messenger who gets arrowed? Even when things aren’t going your way, lie low until you find something positive to report on. If you feel like there’s nothing, find something you are winning at, focus on that and highlight it.

If anything, a person who praises others often gets praised. Pointing to others and giving others specific accolade shows you’re a person of character. And bosses are drawn to people of character.

Make An Impression On Your Boss

Don’t wait or be passive about impressing your boss. It doesn’t happen on accident. Take the bull by the horns, take responsibility, and determine the impression that your boss is getting from you.

About Todd Mayfield

He's a lover, not a fighter. But he's also a fighter, so don't get any ideas.

He works for a series of private schools to advance innovative education to combat ballooning classroom sizes and challenge the status quo of the current public and private education format.


  1. Good tips Todd! I love the pic of the Unibrow Terrorist! I think a lot of it comes down to learning what makes your boss tick and getting to know them and what they like. A little bit of that can take you a long way.

    • Todd Mayfield says

      Haha yes! As soon as I started writing that point I knew the exact picture I wanted to find. And I think my first search found him even though I couldn’t remember his name!

      I agree, understand what makes your boss tick–what drives them and what’s most important to them–is crucial.

  2. The great part of having to wear a hard-hat at work: put it on before you get out of the car and nobody will ever know that you haven’t combed your hair this week!

    Should go without saying, but always do the best job you can do. My old boss told me on at least a monthly basis that when I had gotten the hours to be eligible for certification, I should go for it because I was so awesome at it. To get ATSA TCS certification, you need recommendations, and I’ve already got mine!

    • Todd Mayfield says

      It’s the best thing in the world to work for a boss that believes in you. In fact, I may never take a job at a place again if I don’t believe the boss believes in me. Kudos to you for impressing your manager!

  3. Nice tips!!
    A lot comes down to how you present yourself – your office, attitude and attire!

    • Todd Mayfield says

      Life is a series of presentations (that’s a title of an actual book) and I couldn’t agree more that a man should be on point and represent himself well in attire AND how he carries himself!

  4. As the boss in my office, I don’t like it when employees come to me for every little thing. I would much rather them take a chance and chose an outcome without my input. It shows that you have confidence in yourself and you’re not afraid to make a decision.

    • Todd Mayfield says

      I agree-people need to show some autonomy, especially with day to day operations. With the bigger pieces, it’s always nice to no what’s happening right under your nose as a boss.

  5. hi Tod,
    very helpful tips i found on this i have a question what if you are not working directly with your boss as i am office assistant how can i show my performance to my boss?

    • Hi Aliyah,

      Does that mean you serve an entire office of people, rather than being an admin for one individual? If that’s the case, I could see how you might feel you’re not impressing just one person, since your responsible to so many.

      I’m curious, what do evaluations look like? What are the looking for? Do you have a person you report directly to on a daily or weekly basis?


      • yes you got it right i ahve to work for whole staff and as well for my boss so he really does not have any idea how am i working and what are my specailities so i always try to find out a way that how can i show my presence ? any tip?

        • It’s certainly challenging. Here’s what I suggest you chew on:

          1. What is your boss looking for? What do they expect?
          —If you haven’t discussed this, you should! Opening the lines of communication will make for a much better work experience, and will help you set goals to improve.

          2. Ask them how you can improve.

          3. What do you think your co-workers perceive of you?
          —If they appreciate you and you’re of great help to them, they’ll speak well of you to the boss.

          4. Communicate to your boss that you want to grow. Ask them if you can meet about how and well you can grow in the organization. They’ll appreciate your desire.

          • thanks alot i will try to get some help from your tips. you showed me some hope as i the one who is working like anything day by day but at the end my boss asks what is she doing the whole day and it makes me very upset.

          • Yep. That’s not surprising. In many roles managers are asking that same question. But especially with Admins. Unless you track every 5 minutes exactly what you’re doing, it’s hard to report results. It’s not like you’re closing sales or making products in a factory. Those things are easy to quantify / measure. So you’ve got to get them to define–or YOU define–how you are going to be measured.

            Otherwise anyone can ask “Oh, what has she been doing?” And it you will always find yourself scrambling to find some sort of answer.

          • can you give me some tips on how can i appear more confident and show my performance to higher manamgemnt as i have many layers in reporting

          • Let me ask you this first: what position are you interested in moving into?

          • For now i am working as assistant for whole office i want to work in any specific department wheather it is Admin , HR or may be for my boss assistant 🙂

          • I think your best bet to show you’re confident and assertive is to tell them you want to grow, and grow into the positions you just mentioned. Bosses really do rarely hear from someone, “I want to grow, I want to learn. Help me get there.” What’s neat is you are getting to know a lot of people there. The boss you most want to work with, I would tell them you want to grow and further yourself in their company/department, and ask them how they think you can do so.

            If they seem sharp, wise, and like they want to help people in your situation, you could even ask them if they’d be a bit of a career coach.

            There were several years I spent at an organization and floated from job to job. I was getting promoted, but didn’t seem to have much long term direction. I told the vice president that, and he started to look out for me and key an eye on opportunities for me to grow into. This helped me accelerate into an executive leader within another two years.

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