Friday, May 23, 2008

The Forgotten Piece of Being Able to Work Independently

I was talking with a professor here at OU today and she was praising one of the graduate assistants for how well she works independently.  She was saying that the grad student needs almost no direction on what to do, but that because of it, she (the professor) doesn't know if a project is almost done or if it's barely been started.  I think it's great that this student can work so independently.  It's something that bosses love!  What this student is missing, though, is that she needs to keep her boss updated on her projects and where they stand.  It's a minor thing, and one I know this student will pick-up very quickly once she receives this feedback.  It's a much easier fix to teach someone to keep her boss updated than it is to teach her to work independently.  In the realm of personnel issues, this is a nice one to have.

In your jobs and internships, make sure to let your boss know where you stand on completing projects.  Even if she doesn't ask, let her know either by dropping by her office or sending a quick email.  It doesn't have to be anything elaborate or long.  Quite frankly, it shouldn't be long.  Just a few sentences or bullet points are all you need.  The best solution is to flat out ask her at the beginning, "How would you like me to keep you updated on my progress with this project?"  It will show a maturity level that isn't always seen in young employees.


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