Knowing you’re appreciated and valued at work is a great feeling.
But not every employer shows their gratitude directly, and it can be hard to know if your boss really sees a bright future for you or not.
Here’s how to tell if your boss appreciates you more than you realize.
1) They give you innovative assignments
Are you doing exactly the work that’s described in your job title, or does your boss come forward with new ideas for you?
The boss who truly believes in your future and potential is likely to give you innovative tasks to try out.
Whether that’s a unique architectural blueprint in your construction job or asking you to research a different category of investments in your trading job, it all adds up to the same thing:
Your boss believes in you!
2) They challenge you more than you expect
Giving you new assignments and tasks at work sometimes means throwing a curve ball at you.
When your boss really sees your potential they often give you challenging tasks that seem like a bit too much.
“How am I going to get this done?” you wonder.
That’s the thing:
This is your boss’ way of saying they believe in you and want to see how you’re going to tackle and solve this challenge.
3) They ask for your input and ideas
When a superior at work really believes in you they ask for your input and ideas.
If they didn’t respect you or believe in your potential they wouldn’t ask.
It’s really that simple.
Now, to be fair:
If your boss doesn’t ask for your input or ideas that doesn’t mean they don’t respect you.
Every boss has a different management style and approach.
But if they do ask then it’s a definite indication that you’re in that small inner circle of folks whose analysis and opinion they really value.
4) They suggest future opportunities
The boss who really believes in your potential is likely to talk about the future with you.
This means they see you in that future.
It also means they value your input and have challenges and new ideas they’d like to collaborate with or delegate to you.
Even if your boss doesn’t specifically mention you doing or being involved in these future opportunities, the fact that they’re bringing them up at all means they want to let you know.
This means they see your potential down the road and want to keep you in the loop.
5) They involve you in company decisions
When there’s a big decision at work, it’s generally handled by management.
That depends on the organization, but as a general rule your boss is only going to involve you if they really value your input.
When they want your take on a potential decision it means that they find your outlook and analysis valuable.
This is doubly true if they’re asking you far ahead of time before the decision is even happening.
For example, your boss asks what you think about a future collaboration with a different supplier long before such a decision might actually happen or not.
They’re getting your view and testing the water by asking your take on it: big respect!
6) They value your constructive criticism
When something isn’t going well or is in jeopardy, does your boss turn to you or ask your view?
If so it means they value your constructive criticism.
The thing with criticism is that it’s only really useful if it actually has some suggestions for how to improve or diagnosing exactly what’s going wrong and why.
If your boss is coming to you and asking what you think about challenges faced by the company it means they have a respect for the power of your insight and analysis.
Otherwise they wouldn’t ask.
7) They ask your opinion on other employees
“What do you think about Cathy?”
“What’s your take on what Jack was saying?”
These are the kinds of questions a boss would only ask you if they see your potential and value your opinion more than average.
Now it’s true that sometimes a boss will “canvas” or ask around about things going on at the organization.
Maybe they’ll get Human Resources to email everyone with a brief questionnaire about whether they find the office environment “toxic” sometimes following a complaint from a certain employee.
This is more like gauging the general feedback of all the employees.
But when your boss approaches you one-on-one for your take on issues going on with other employees, it means they’re taking the time and focus to really get your view on what’s going on.
That means they definitely see your potential and also view you as an above-average source of objectivity and insight into whatever issues are arising.
8) They pay you above your pay grade
Money doesn’t mean everything, but it sure doesn’t mean nothing either.
If your boss is paying you above what an average salary would be in your position, it means that he or she values you and sees real potential in you.
If your boss only sees you as a cog in the machine, they’re going to pay you that way:
You leave, too bad, good luck!
But when your boss sees your potential down the road and wants to make a long-term investment in you, they pay you accordingly.
Even if it’s just a modest pay raise, you’re going to notice that your boss does what they can to get you the salary you deserve and then some.
9) They tell you how you can do better
In addition to valuing your constructive feedback, a boss who sees your potential is going to return the favor.
This means offering you constructive feedback on what you’re doing well and what you’re doing not so well.
They’re not going to sugarcoat it either, because they really want you to improve, learn and know how you’re doing.
When a boss doesn’t much care about you or see a future for you in the organization, they aren’t going to take much time or energy to go into detail about what you can improve.
But when they genuinely want to see you excel and believe they’ll have a long-term professional relationship with you it shows in the care and detail they put in for advising you about what you can improve in your job.
10) They give you resources you need to work better
In addition to telling you what you can do better, a boss who sees your potential is going to do what they can to elevate your performance.
Whether that’s new software on your computer, advanced equipment for your classrooms as a teacher or renovations to the medical clinic where you work, it’s all about giving you what you need to do an even greater job.
This is about far more than just boosting productivity.
Think of it this way:
If your boss didn’t trust you and really believe in you, they wouldn’t risk new equipment and tools nor take the time to train you in them.
Tapping into your career potential
Your boss seeing your potential is one thing, but you making it happen is another.
The key is to double down on your skills and focus on the areas where you’re strongest.
There’s a reason that teams prize diversity: it’s because different skills and strengths fit in different areas of an organization.
Don’t just make your boss pleasantly surprised and proud, exceed your own expectations, too!