Five Ways to Build a Better Relationship with Your Boss

bossSome bosses are easier to get along with than others, but even the most successful boss-employee relationships don't happen by accident -- they take time and effort to build. Your time and effort, because no matter how awesome your boss is, your superiors are never going to care as much about your day-to-day job satisfaction and future career success as you do. And although it benefits them when you do well, it's ultimately your responsibility to make sure you get what you need to succeed.

Bruce Tulgan, author of 'It's Okay to Manage Your Boss,' says every employee needs to take responsibility for getting these four things from their boss:

  • Clear expectations
  • The resources to meet those expectations (or clarification that you're expected to do without)
  • Feedback and guidance
  • Fair recognition

In a perfect world your boss would provide all these things readily, without being asked, in clear and easily understood terms tailored perfectly to your individual communication and learning styles. But the world isn't perfect, and bosses are only human; so if you want a better work environment, take responsibility for yourself and build a better relationship with your boss.

To get the four things above work on mastering the following five principles.

  • Be trustworthy: Do what you say you'll do when you said you'd do it. Keep time-line commitments and stick to deadlines. Don't lie or cover up mistakes; fix them. And don't gossip or complain behind the boss's back to avoid being petty. Keep the lines of communication open.
  • Manage frustration and anger: No matter how great you and your boss get along, you won't always get your way or understand why certain decisions were made. But getting angry and threatening to quit or throwing some other form of temper tantrum will do nothing but make you seem unprofessional and immature.
  • Adapt to your boss's communication style: Is your boss very involved and hands-on or more distant and hands-off? Does she prefer face-to-face talks or communication over e-mail? Whatever his or her style is it's in your best interest to adapt so communication flows smoothly.
  • Realize it's a two-way street: As with all relationships, you have to give something to get something. What are your boss's priorities? Needs? Weaknesses? Focus what efforts you can to help, boost, or support in those areas.
  • Do great work Working hard not only makes you look good but it also makes your boss look good as well -- and they love that.

What tips or experience do you have on improving employee-boss relationships?

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John Gaudiosi

Sorry you felt you had to edit the comments

October 27 2010 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In my 30 years of working, not 1 Boss knew what I actually did. They could quote the job description, but never took hands on. They were hired right into management and I found that either co workers slept with their boss or thought if they stabbed you in the back (just a phrase) that's how they worked their way up. It worked. I preferred to do the job with no expectations, but knew of the disapointments ahead. Although I got the lower raises, I refused to sleep with the boss to get ahead. When I left, that's when the impact of my job hit management. No one else knew how to do my job.

October 27 2010 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good points. I have a degree in professional communication, and this is right on. Employees need to take responsibility to share leadership, and a work team cannot be successful without cooperation. Many bosses know their industry, but they don't actually know how to lead. They need a lot of help from their employees if they are going to succeed.

October 27 2010 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gee, all my coworker has to do is kiss ass every day, that seems to work great for her... I hate ass kissers....

October 27 2010 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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