7 Tips on How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss

improve relationships with boss

Most career experts would agree that your relationship with your boss can have a great impact on your career and your well-being. Many bosses are not as aware of what people are accomplishing.

If up to 75% of workers said the most stressful aspect of their job is their immediate boss, as noted in this workplace study by the American Psychological Association, we have a lot unhappy and unproductive people in the workforce.

I’ve been pretty lucky with past bosses and managers. Working for fairly small companies meant interactions between my boss and myself were frequent and effective. But, what happens when you don’t get enough face-to-face time with your manager?

The first step would be to speak up. It’s safe to say that your boss isn’t a mind reader, so it is not in your best interest to assume he knows how you feel and even what you are getting done. Pop into his/her office or send him/her an email to set up a time to chat. From there we suggest the following to continually improve that relationship:

1. Get to Know Each Other

Developing a positive relationship based on shared values, regarding the company or life in general, will greatly benefit you both. It’s a lot easier to work together when you share some common ground.

2. Set Clear Expectations

Conversations about expectations and goal-setting are important. This is not about bureaucratic processes which document annual goals. Its about regular calibration that you are working on the most important things that matter to your boss and the organization.

3. Regularly Check-In

Don’t wait until there is a big problem, start talking to your boss on a more regular basis. Keeping him/her in the loop about your progress will ensure that you’re both on the same page. A regular discussion on what you are focused on and what you are achieving is the most useful thing you can do. You’ll be surprised how many bosses simply don’t know enough about your contributions, despite their best intentions.

4. Be Accountable

Accountability and trust go hand in hand. If you don’t live up to your word or have a habit of not completing what’s asked of you, it will cause any relationship you started with to suffer.

Complete assignments. Show up to work or meetings on time. Be a team player. When you say you’ll do something, do it. If you find yourself struggling, speak up. Remember, trust that is lost is hard to gain back.

5. Provide Feedback

Just as you appreciate when your boss gives you useful feedback, they will appreciate it just as much. When giving any feedback, be sure that it is specific to the behavior. Cabrillo College provides a useful resource on the best methods for giving constructive feedback here.

It would also be beneficial to act on the feedback your boss provides.

6. Don’t Assume

If you have to assume anything, you’re probably wrong. Many times what seems to be a major problem is a simple misunderstanding.

The Institute of Management Accountants highlights an example of this: “you may take it personally when your boss doesn’t respond immediately to your memos. What you may not know is that he or she has been so involved in evaluating the financial impact of an upcoming acquisition that there hasn’t been time to get back to anyone on projects unrelated to the deal.”

7. Accept Differences

No matter how well you get along with your boss, there will always be things you don’t agree on. That’s ok! Learn to accept those differences and even ways to benefit from them.

Teri Hockett, Chief Executive of What’s For Work?, stated that bosses, “typically hold the key to your advancement within the company, or sometimes outside as well. Without a good relationship, they may not speak highly of you or consider nominating you to other positions, departments or companies, regardless of your performance.”

The key takeaway here is that if you want to advance your career, you should develop a good working relationship with your boss.

Do you have any insights or tips on having a better relationship with your boss or manager?   Please share them with us in the comments below!

-Lolly Fitzpatrick

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