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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

How to Know You're Doing a Good Job (Without Hearing the Words "Good Job")

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It’s a boss’ job to point out areas for improvement and help you grow. And so, if you’re on the wrong track, or falling short of expectations, you expect them to let you know.

But, of course, constructive criticism is only one kind of feedback.

Positive feedback matters too. It’s motivating to know that your efforts are seen and your work is valuable. Not just that, but it’s easier to believe in yourself if you feel that others believe in you, too.

But not everyone has a supervisor who makes it a point to give praise. And even if your manager has the best intentions, things get busy.

The great news is: Even if no one’s taking the time to say, “good job,” there are signs you can look for that tell you that yes, you are crushing it—and your boss know it too!

Look for one (or more) of these three things:

1. You’re Given More Responsibility

A good manager isn’t going to pile more work onto someone whom they believe is struggling with their current workload. So, while it’d be awesome if new assigments came coupled with, “I picked this for you because you’re doing such a great job with everything else!” that’s often what it means.

To be sure your new project is an endorsement of your skills (and not just an overworked boss shoving things off of their plate), ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this give me the opportunity to build skills or qualify me for other types of projects?
  • Does this allow me to contribute to mission-critical work?
  • Does this align with what I’ve expressed interest in pursuing?

If you can answer yes to at least one, it means your boss feels you have your current projects under control and wants to provide additional avenues for you to stay engaged and grow.

2. You’re Given More Autonomy

You know that a key reason why leaders micromanage is because they feel the employee isn’t meeting expectations. And if you follow that logic—that bosses hover over those whose abilities they question—you can see where the opposite would be true, too.

To put in plain: If you’re right on target (or better yet, exceeding expectations) every time your manager checks in, then they won’t feel the need to do so as often.

So, if your supervisor tells you that you can run with whatever plan you think is best, or that you don’t need to touch base unless you have questions, that means they trust your judgement and skills. Empowering you to do more things with less supervision is the same as saying, “You’re doing a great job, and so I trust you can keep suceeding with less as much input from me!”

3. You’re Given More Visibility

The best bosses find opportunities for their people to learn by doing. But they also know when they need their best foot (read: employee) forward. Who are they going to ask to run the account for a high-profile client or represent the company at a conference?

Someone who they have complete faith in, and who they think represents the company in the very best light. Without a doubt, when you’re asked to speak on behalf of your team, it’s because your boss thinks you’re doing a great job.

You may’ve noticed a common theme across these three items: They all boil down to trust. Before your boss asks you to take more on, self-direct your work, or represent the organization to someone important; they have to believe that you’re up to the task. And if that’s where you’re at, pat yourself on the back. You deserve it!

If you’ve read this far and you’re feeling a disconnect between your efforts and recognition: Don't despair! Instead read this article on how to get your hard work noticed, even if you’re really busy.

Because in the end, while it’d be nice if your manager said, “good job,” it’s even more important that they know it.