Core Value: Be Proactive

  • Don't wait to be told what to do. Proactively seek how you can add more value.
  • Proactively think about what the next move for your supervisor would be, and proactively find ways to save time for the supervisor. This will grant you a lot more freedom to work the way you want.
  • If you were asked for an update, you're already late. Be proactive and provide updates BEFORE your supervisor/client asks for one.
  • Proactively focus on results and not just on tasks.
  • When providing an update, make sure you've met all the instructions from your supervisor. Do NOT cause your supervisor to repeat instructions AFTER you've already provided an update, saying your update was incomplete. Supervisors hate this, especially if they are already super busy.


Scenario 1: A New Task

Your supervisor has given you a new task over email. Should you email back? Or is it okay to not respond back as some of the instructions for the task were already discussed with you in the prior hand? How quickly would you respond?

Scenario 2: Clumsy Update

The supervisor has asked you to provide an update on your work by the end of the day. The end of the day has come but the supervisor has not gotten any update from you. The next morning, the update comes back with an apology that it's late. To make the matter worse, the supervisor was expecting you to email a few other people but the email seemed to indicate it was only sent to you... The supervisor also asked for an update on X, Y, and Z, but you have only provided an update on Y and Z... The supervisor has to email you back where they have to write back to you asking for additional things... Every keystroke the supervisor makes, the supervisor is wondering why their time is being wasted having to repeat instructions over again...

Scenario 3: Family Emergency

You have a family emergency. Something happened and you needed to leave work immediately to take care of one of your family members. You notified your HR by a text message saying how you have to take the whole day off. The HR responded back saying they hope everything works out. Once the family situation was resolved, it is already very late around 11 PM your time. It's also weekend the next day and you don't want to interrupt your supervisor or the HR folks, especially as you know they are busy people and you don't want to distract them. You instead decide to come back to work on Monday and on Monday morning, you decide to then let your supervisor and HR folks know. What could have gone better in this situation?

Scenario 4: Busy Supervisor

Your supervisor is extremely busy but you are not that satisfied with work. In fact, you're not even sure if you really belong to this company and the team as the supervisor doesn't seem to really appreciate what you've done. You're putting in the hours and doing all the things that the supervisor has asked you to do, although inside, you know you can do more. However, you are hesitant to do more, as you have other tasks at home and you're afraid that if you put in a lot more hours at work, your quality of life may go down (as you will be too busy with work). Plus, you're not getting paid enough already. Maybe, if you get the promotion, you will then start working more hours and do more responsibilities?

Scenario 5: 2-hour Task

Your supervisor has casually asked you to look into something. The supervisor mentioned this in one of the meetings but has not provided any deadline for this. It's something you can do in about 2 hours. You're debating whether you should do this immediately (and put all other tasks behind this task) or whether it's okay to do this later in the week. You're not sure and not sure how to approach this task.

Scenario 6: 60-hour Task

The same scenario as above but the task the supervisor has asked you to do is something that will require about 60 hours of work. You're already swamped with a lot of other tasks (a majority of which your supervisor already knows about and which there are concrete deadlines for these other tasks also). What would you do in this scenario?

Scenario 7: Been Two Weeks

You have been working diligently as a valuable member of your team. Your supervisor is extremely busy and doesn't like to be disturbed. It has already been close to two weeks since you had a 1:1 meeting with your supervisor and where you were able to give your latest update on your project. You are not even sure if the supervisor knows about the projects you're working on as the supervisor has not given you a specific deadline for some of the future tasks and the supervisor has not scheduled any meetings to receive an update. You're not sure how to approach this. Should you call the supervisor, email the supervisor, send a message over Slack??? You don't want to disturb the supervisor after all.

Scenario 8: Update from Slack

Your team uses Slack heavily. Your supervisor also likes to use Slack to communicate with the team members that the supervisor manages. One day, your supervisor has sent a message to everyone that the supervisor manages (a total of 10 people). The message says something short like this: "Hi Team. Next Wednesday, we're going to have a meeting to discuss projects A, B, and C." The message did not require you to respond and no one has replied to the message yet. You're wondering whether you should write something in response or whether it's okay as this was more of an announcement anyway.