Like it or not, your boss plays an important role in your professional life and if you want to continue to climb the corporate ladder and develop your career, your boss’s opinion matters. Not to mention, when you spend so much time working with someone, it’s only natural to crave a decent rapport between the two of you.
However, you don’t need me to tell you that establishing and cultivating a positive relationship with your superior isn’t always simple. It can be tough to walk the thin line between overly professional and a little too comfortable.
Striking that balance can be challenging, but it’s certainly doable —and here are six steps to prove just that.
1. Add Value
I know what you’re thinking, “thank you captain Obvious…” But consider this: Even if you are the friendliest, most outgoing person in the office, sub-par work and zero contributions to the team aren’t going to save your work relationships, let alone your job.
The first step to ensuring you’re an awesome employee that truly adds value to your organization: Do your best work. Chime in with purposeful ideas, stay far away from office gossip, keep a positive attitude, and let your high quality work be a constant reminder to your boss of why exactly they hired you.
It seems basic, but a positive reputation is the foundation for the building blocks to a stable relationship with your boss.
2. Ask for Feedback
No one boss is the same, but one rule holds true across the board: Managers love an employee willing to take initiative. Proactively asking for feedback from your supervisor is a great way to demonstrate that you’re constantly looking for ways to grow and improve.
Of course, you don’t want to take this concept to the extreme. Your boss will likely grow annoyed if you check in after every single email you send. Setting up a time to discuss your performance every few months—or after the completion of a large project or presentation—should be enough to show that you’re interested in evolving, without being a pest.
3. Communication Style
Communication is key in any relationship and it’s definitely crucial when it comes to relationships between superiors and subordinates. Your boss needs to know only what they need to know. You don’t want to overwhelm them with constant updates, or any unnecessary information that could be cause for them to think you don’t know what you’re doing.
It’s a good idea to establish how exactly your boss prefers to communicate early on. This can be challenging, particularly if you’re new to the office. Pay close attention to how your boss interacts with you, it’s human nature to communicate with others in the same way we’d prefer to be communicated with. This can be a revealing (and helpful) clue you can use to grow your communication skills with your boss.
Don’t be afraid to set up a quick meeting to talk it out with your manager. Getting on the same page about preferred communication right from the get-go will only make both of your lives easier, and your relationship even stronger!
4. Make Small Talk
Companies don’t have an official handbook that dictates what exactly the relationship with your boss should look like. Some will remain formal and professional—never seeing each other outside work; while others create an open and casual environment—where after work happy hours are frequent.
Regardless of your current situation, there’s no harm in making small talk with your boss. Whether it’s about weekend plans or new recipes, chit-chatting about personal tidbits can help strengthen the relationship by making things a little less rigid.
I’m not saying you should spend precious work hours recapping the latest episode of Game of Thrones. But a few minutes of friendly conversation won’t hurt!
5. Offer a Hand
Your boss might seem like they’re always on top of everything—never making mistakes or losing their cool, but we all have those days. It’s important to note that your boss probably won’t always be willing to admit it when they find themselves in situations when they could use a little help.
Be aware of their queues, if your supervisor seems stressed and overwhelmed, step up and lend a hand. Perhaps they mentioned a report on a tight deadline. If you have the know-how to take care of it, explain that you’re happy to handle it.
Even if you get turned down, the fact that you were willing to reach out and offer help will carry a lot of weight.
6. Practice Empathy
It’s all too easy to jump to conclusions and assume your boss is out to get you with that daunting project, insanely tight deadline, or dreadfully boring conference call. They’re all your boss’ attempts to punish you… no, not quite.
Give your supervisor the benefit of the doubt, especially when things get tough. Remember, your boss isn’t only responsible for their own piece of the puzzle, they’re also in charge of ensuring the quality of work produced by you and your co-workers.
Your boss is human too, not Wonder Woman and managing others is a tough job. Understanding that alone is enough to shift perspective and drastically improve your relationship.
You want to establish a great professional (if nothing else) relationship with your bosses. And it certainly helps make those 40+ hours you spend in the office each week much more bearable!
Fostering a positive bond with your boss will involve navigating murky waters – follow these 6 steps and see instant improvement!