Looking to get ahead at work and in your career? Then try this. At work, think of yourself like a CIA agent. Gather intelligence wherever and whenever you can, and get inside the mind of your boss.
I’m not talking about feeding the gossip machine that most workplaces are. But gathering as much information as you can about what your boss is thinking and working on can only make you a better employee, and help you on the job.
Here are a few sneaky ways you can pick up that intel, get ahead at work, and beat your peers in the rat race.
Learn to Read Upside Down
What’s on your boss’ desk? What is he or she working on today? This can be a great clue as to what he’s thinking about, and perhaps tip you off to your company’s next big project.
I learned to read upside down. There were many times I talked to my boss while standing in front of his desk. Sometimes he’d be looking at me. Other times, he’d be multitasking, checking email, and doing a host of other tasks as we spoke. I never failed to scan his desk while waiting for his full attention.
A person’s desk is a glimpse into their world. If something is visible on it, it likely relates to their current hot-button issues. By using that fact, not only will you be helping yourself, but you’ll also be helping your boss. Is there a project that he’s struggling with? Maybe you can help — and earn a feather in your cap. Like GI Joe always said, “Knowing is half the battle.”
Does Your Boss Blog or Tweet?
I once had a boss who considered himself a strategic thinker in our industry. My coworkers considered him a little crazy. Whether either of those opinions was true or not is another issue.
But, he had a blog where he would share his grandiose ideas, and I regularly read it. That meant I knew what was on his mind and what direction he wanted to take us, which gave me a leg up on my coworkers.
I went to meetings ready to discuss the topics he thought were important. I was never caught by surprise. It was a great way to get ahead at work.
You don’t have to agree with all of your manager’s ideas, or even comment on them. But if you have a boss who posts his thoughts on social media, taking advantage of that is an easy way to find out what’s in his head before he gets around to telling his staff.
Check Out the Boss’ Whiteboard
How does your boss think? How does he absorb information? Is he a visual learner? Is he always writing ideas on a whiteboard? I had another boss who was a real visual learner. He loved “mind maps” and diagramming ideas on the whiteboard in his office. I made it a habit to look around his office anytime I was in it.
It’s true what they say: We all learn differently. If your boss writes his brilliant ideas down on a napkin at lunch, take note. If he diagrams things on a whiteboard, pay attention. If he dictates his strategy to the group over email, you should save those messages.
Understand how your boss thinks and communicates, and you can adapt to meet his expectations.
Equally important is understanding your manager’s strengths and weaknesses because recognizing them will allow you to help him compensate for his weakness and blind spots. With a little cunning thought and hard work, you can read your boss’s mind and get ahead at work.
Note: This article originally appeared on AOL Daily Finance and is reprinted with permission. See the full article on AOL Daily Finance.