How often does your boss come to you with a very specific question/request? If you’re like most good employees you’ll try to work on it quickly and answer his specific question (bad employees will not even take the time to understand the request). I’m here to tell you that’s not a good idea!
Many times your boss is just trying to simplify the problem for you and he glosses over important details. Or worse, he doesn’t know exactly what he wants but comes to your with confidence asking for the wrong thing. What you need to do is to find out what he really wants not what he says he wants.
How can you do this? Simple, ask questions to ensure you understand what he really wants to accomplish.
I had this relationship with one of my bosses. I kept asking questions so that he stopped just giving me a quick command. Instead, he spent a minute or two explaining the background. Sometimes I had some good suggestions, other times it really was a simple request. Through all my questions an interesting thing happened- my knowledge of what was happening around the company increased. I gained a better understanding of projects my department was working on. I was able to take on more complex projects because I knew the background that gave me a foundation. In short, I became a more valuable employee because I knew more and I solved problems.
Did you ever give your boss what he asked for only to do it over again once you found out what he really wanted? Stop and ask. Comment below on how your situation turned out.