Do 3 simple things to get a glowing reference from your boss


By Warren Heggarty

Scott Pape, the author of ‘The Barefoot Investor’ says that getting qualifications is not the key to sustainable employment. To be successful, you need to develop a reputation as a hard worker. What boss does not like a hard worker? (Pape, 2018, p. 189)

All workplaces (with the possible exception of Flourish Australia, ahem) contain their share of slackers, shirkers and whiners. Apparently 70% of Australian workers are ‘ambivalent or completely disengaged from their jobs.’ That’s GREAT, because it makes it simple to develop that reputation as a hard worker. 

All workplaces have boring repetitive tasks, hierarchies and rules. A lot of people see such jobs as somehow ‘beneath them’ and tell themselves ‘I’ll work hard when I get a good job.’ To the boss, however, ‘how you do any job is how you do EVERY job.’ 

Three habits 

According to Scott Pape there are three habits that will help you earn a glowing reference from your boss. These three habits will get you a reputation for being a good worker. (Pape, 2018, p. 190) Doing the opposite of these habits is not a good idea. 

• Be on time

• Get the job done, even when the boss is not around

• Be polite 

Once you have EARNED the glowing reference, you then need politely to ASK the boss for it. If you don’t ask for the reference, how will the boss know you need it? (Pape, 2018, p. 191)

How to be on time

Panorama went round the office one morning and asked some workers (most of whom start work very early) how they manage to be on time. Surprisingly, alarm clocks play very little role. The common theme is getting into a habit and sticking to it. 

Jasmin says she has been an early riser all her life and that makes it very difficult to be late for work. This life-long habit has evolved into a personal disposition. ‘I don’t LIKE to be late for anything. Punctuality is very important for me.’

Rochelle suggests that preparing the night before will help you get in on time. Lin, whose work involves salary payments says that her job is just so important that she cannot sleep in! 

Marina has a new baby, so we asked her if that helped. ‘For sure, having a baby helps you get up really early, but I don’t know whether that helps you get to work on time because you need to change nappies and feed the baby.

Grant M. says he always gets up with the sun. ‘It’s not easy to be late for work when you get up with the sun. And as a spin off, I think getting up with the sun is good for your mental health!’

‘Living close to work helps,’ says Doris, ‘and travelling to and from work outside of peak hour.’

How to get the job done 

Brian Tracy in ‘Eat that Frog’ claims that only two per cent of people can work entirely without supervision. However, many people can’t get the job done even WITH supervision. That’s great, because it will be easy to outshine them simply by getting the job done, even when the boss is not there. Set standards for yourself that are higher than the ‘standards’ other people are setting for themselves. Even better, set yourself a standard that is a little higher than the boss’s, if you can. (Tracy, 2004, p. 72) If you are truly in one of those boring, repetitive jobs people hate, doing this will be easy.

A word of warning here: don’t mistake activity for achievement. (Tracy, 2004, p. 3)

Whatever the job is, you need to know what the priorities are and then complete the tasks in priority order. Consider the consequences of not doing a task. If they are dire, it is a high priority. Let’s just say your boss is very keen on you finishing task X, but doesn’t think tasks Y or Z are nearly so important. If you were to ignore the Xs but labour long and hard on lots of Ys an Zs (because they are easier or more fun), then you are not making the best use of your time, or the money the boss is paying you. 

The Pareto principle says that you get 80 per cent of value out of 20 per cent of tasks. So if you do those ‘top 20 per cent’ tasks FIRST, adamantly refusing to touch those bottom 80 per cent tasks, your boss will see you as a champion. (Tracy, 2004, p. 21) 

Why be polite?

Politeness shows other people that you care about them, and that makes it more likely that they will care about you! Etiquette helps us avoid unproductive arguments or misunderstandings, so workplace politeness is essential. It is especially important to be polite when meeting a new colleague or boss for the first time, because first impressions often set the tone for the whole subsequent relationship. Remaining polite helps maintain that good first impression. It also helps you NETWORK which is an important way to find a job in the first place! (Hamel)

Works Cited

Hamel, G. (n.d.). How being polite in the workplace helps. Retrieved from Small Business Chron:

Pape, S. (2018). The Barefoot Investor for Families. Sydney: HarperCollins.

Tracy, B. (2004). Eat That Frog. Get more of the important things done today. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

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