When Your Boss Surprises You, Here's What To Do

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Vice President Dick Cheney surprised both Iraqi and U.S. personnel in Baghdad yesterday when he made an unannounced visit. The Vice President stopped in Iraq just days before the fifth anniversary of the war and spoke at a news conference with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, who is the top commander in Iraq.

The trip to Iraq’s capital was just the first stop on Cheney’s nine-day tour of the Middle East which will also include visits to Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, the Palestinian territories, Turkey and Oman. Cheney’s visit came during an apparent upsurge in violence since January, however U.S. military commanders say that it is not a trend and attacks are actually down 60% from the middle of last year. The second in command gave President Bush’s decision to send 30,000 troops to the war zone credit for the overall reduction in violence.

While most Americans are not carrying out jobs in the war torn Middle East nor will they ever be visited by the vice president of the United States, anyone could have a surprise visit from a boss or supervisor and it is important to be prepared. Jennifer Thompson, a career consultant at Strategic Futures Consulting Group, Inc. in Alexandria, Va., says, “first things first, people should be sure to understand their work environment and be cognizant of if they have a boss that would make a surprise visit.”

Most experts agree that no matter what, it is important to have a list of your recent accomplishments ready at a moments notice, just in case a supervisor drops by to see how things are going. Syndee Feuer, a certified career coach at Career Tactics in Jupiter, Fla., says that employees should always keep track of projects that they are working on, along with a status update on each. Irene Marshall, the president of Tools for Transition in Fremont, Calif., says “It is really good for career management if once a quarter you put together everything that you have done. That way you have the information and details about what you’ve accomplished is at your fingertips.”

Also, keep in mind that often times a boss or supervisor is meeting with you because they have a concern or have heard about a problem. People should be ready to discuss any issues that may be concerning the boss and have questions ready that will help them to do their job better. “It is a perfect opportunity to turn the tables and get answers from your boss that you have been looking for," says Feuer. "And, be sure to tell them any concerns you may have." In addition to being aware of tasks and concerns, Feuer says it is important for people to be equipped to talk about the goals of the department and how they fit into those goals.

Above all, Thompson says, it helps to use a little common sense. “No one should be playing solitaire or sending personal emails on their work computers, even if they are on break. You don’t have a sign on your forehead that says ‘I am on lunch break.’” (That's good advice: A chance meeting with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006 resulted in a government employee getting canned after the Mayor happened to notice he was playing computer solitaire at work.) And, keep in mind that even if someone doesn’t see you goofing off, there are spyware programs that can track what employees are doing on company computers. “If the employee handbook says do not do it, then don’t do it," says Thompson. "Because that surprise visit could be in cyberspace as well as in person."

 

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