Using Intuition to Advance Your Career -- and We Don’t Mean ESP

I’ll admit, when I think of the word “intuition,” images of third eyes and my college psychology textbook come to mind. But that’s totally not where I’m going with this post.

Most of us don’t hesitate to draw on our intuition to make decisions in our personal lives. When something just feels right — or wrong — we typically pay attention to those feelings, even when we can’t quite put a finger on why. But what about relying on these subtle powers of perception in the workplace?

A survey by OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals found that 88 percent of support staff regularly count on their intuition to make decisions. And nearly all administrative professionals (97 percent) responded that they consider anticipating their manager’s needs important to their career growth.

Why are intuitive powers so critical for administrative professionals? Because excelling in the role often requires you to understand others’ needs before they’re verbalized, interpret subtle cues before they become obvious and address potential problems before they develop. Basically, sometimes it feels like people just expect you to be a mind-reader! All of these challenges demand a sensitivity that can exceed rational, objective analysis.

But they also require common sense. Intuition works best in tandem with conventional information gathering and assessment of facts. The better you perfect this combination, the more you’ll find that you can make sound decisions and get ahead of the game in the office.

Here are some tips that can help you anticipate your boss and coworkers' needs more easily:

  • Use your reasoning skills. Reflect on past interactions with colleagues and identify patterns for what concerns are typically raised and the types of questions usually asked. Also, think back to previous problems that have occurred and how they were resolved. 
  • Get to know individual preferences. Understanding the work styles of your manager and coworkers is essential to anticipating their needs. Observe the behavior of those you work with or ask others how they prefer to do things.
  • Know the business cycles. There are usually work-related activities that you can count on happening at the same time every year. Making the most of this helps you plan ahead more effectively and reduces the stress on everyone.
  • Conduct post-mortems. After projects are completed, analyze what worked well and what could have been done better. Having access to this information will help you with future assignments. 

Far from a mystical power best left to psychics, intuition actually draws upon highly rational abilities such as observation, analysis and predictive reasoning. By learning to use intuition more skillfully, you can begin making smarter, faster decisions that increase your value to your employer.

Want more advice about fine-tuning your intuitive skills and applying them in the workplace? Download the free OfficeTeam research guide, Business Sense: Putting Your Intuition to Work. Also, take our quiz to discover your intuition style.