Thousands of people don’t like their bosses. And having a “bad boss” is the number one reason employees leave jobs.
But consider this: Half of the responsibility for your boss-employee relationship is yours. And while there are undoubtedly a few legitimately bad bosses, many, many bosses are capable, intelligent people—just like you or me—working hard to do a good job the best way they know how.
Now, let’s get back to your end of this boss-employee relationship. Creating a strong connection with your boss takes time and effort. But intentionally working to make it stronger means your life in the office will be more enjoyable.
Here are some relationship strengtheners:
- Be loyal and make your boss look good
Ultimately, we all want our bosses to have our backs. For that to happen, we have to have theirs.
Consider your boss’s strengths and weaknesses. (Yes, we all have weaknesses.) Consider how you can help make his or her job easier.
Speak highly of your boss. Tell people about the good things your boss does. With the horizontal organizations of today, as your work crosses departments, mention your boss to others. “Cathy has been a great resource in helping me to understand the history on this project.”
Don’t badmouth him or her. Sidestep conversations and gossip that makes your boss look bad. Consider if your roles were reversed. What would you (as the boss) want your employees to be saying about you?
- Communicate well in your boss’s preferred communication style
How does your boss prefer to communicate—phone, emails, texts or in person? Maybe this varies depending on the subject, approaching deadlines, etc.
Most bosses have swirling responsibilities, projects and people to oversee and report to. Keep your boss in the loop.
For bosses, the most helpful employees are the ones that recognize when a boss needs to be included in the conversation, e.g., when something out of the ordinary is happening. Taking a moment to pop by his or her office and say, “Hey do you have a minute for me to catch you up on what’s going on with the Williams account?” Bosses appreciate and rely on these insightful individuals for updates. Conversely, if your boss hears about mistakes, problems or successes from someone else and has to go to you to pry information, a boss naturally develops less trust toward you.
If your boss doesn’t specifically tell you how often or when to update him or her, ask. When your assignments and projects don’t include daily interaction with your boss, consider emailing with regular updates. Steady communication helps your boss understand where you’re spending your time. Your boss undoubtedly has a boss. When discussion turns to your projects, he or she will be grateful for knowing where you stand.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “I have no interest in making my boss look good,” consider this: Making your boss look good makes you look good. Yes, you’re both in this together.
- Work hard and show initiative
Show your boss that you’re someone who can be relied upon to complete projects and tasks on schedule. When possible (and time allows), go a step beyond what’s asked for.
Show initiative when you encounter problems by considering possible solutions before you alert your boss. Look for ways you can help and demonstrate that you’re truly invested in doing your best and helping your organization grow.
- When you disagree, be respectful
Solid relationships include honesty and trust. If you don’t agree with a suggestion your boss is making, speaking up is important. Believe it or not, your boss relies on your expertise to help in decision making. Before speaking, however, carefully consider why you disagree and what suggestions you can make instead, suggests themuse.com. Use solid, logical facts to support your case. And don’t expect to get your way. Your job is to provide the facts and offer expertise. Your boss holds the decision making authority.
Building a stronger relationship with your boss is well worth the effort and makes work more pleasant. And at least 50 percent of that boss-employee relationship is in your hands. Take charge of your half. Build a better relationship with that human—your boss.