30 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss
This article discusses great ways to improve your relationship with your boss, manager or supervisor.
A good professional relationship with your supervisor is important for your career success and your job satisfaction.
You can quickly skim all the 30 ways on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Synchronize Expectations and Priorities
- Meet Deadlines and Commitments
- Be Responsive and Keep Your Boss Updated
- Have Regular Check-In Meetings
- Pay Attention To Details
- Work Well With Team Members
- Meet Performance Targets
- Have a Good Attitude Towards Work
- Take Initiative
- Take Time To Know Each Other
- Consult When in Doubt
- Maintain Confidentiality
- Be Focused
- Offer Solutions To Problems
- Offer To Train Others
- Treat Your Boss With Respect
- Be Accountable
- Be Consistent
- Resolve Misunderstandings Quickly in Private
- Work on Your Professional Development
- Make a Good Impression
- Seek and Take Constructive Feedback Well
- Understand Your Working Styles and Differences
- Don’t Make Your Boss Look Bad/Loose Face
- Avoid Gossiping
- Share The Credit
- Understand The Big Picture and The Weeds
- Avoid Office Cliques/Don’t Hang Around Bad Company
- Manage Change
- Practice Common Courtesy
One way to build a strong relationship with your boss is to ensure that both of you are on the same page.
It is important to have clear discussions and clarify areas that you are unsure about. Learn what items are on your boss’ topmost agenda.
Discuss and share your goals and what major items are on your plate so that your boss is aware.
Sometimes your boss’ priorities might override your own, be flexible enough to accommodate these requests.
Know what your boss expects from you in terms of work performance and work diligently to meet or even exceed those expectations.
Deadlines are a necessary part of work, they help in proper planning. Deadlines help in aiding the smooth flow of work and lead us to perform tasks faster.
Failure to meet deadlines especially chronic failure can lead to disastrous consequences.
Become known as an employee who regularly meets deadlines and you will be in your boss’ good books.
Be a good time manager. Keep a running list of your key tasks, projects and deadlines. Look at the list regularly to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Break down big tasks into smaller components to make it easier to tackle them.
Strive to meet your work commitments at all times. Be known for doing what you promise you will do.
In the event that you are working on a project and you anticipate not meeting the deadline, it is advisable to give your boss a heads up in good time.
Let him or her know that you are running late and discuss options available such as rescheduling, negotiating deadlines, getting support from others or otherwise.
Bosses like employees who are highly responsive. Different bosses have different definitions about what being responsive means to them.
Some bosses are comfortable with a weekly update, others prefer a daily update whereas others might even require an hourly update or every few hours.
When working on a project, update your boss on the progress at regular intervals. Complete the project on time.
If you are not able to provide updates as earlier envisioned, let your boss know in advance.
Being reactive creates challenges for you, your boss, team and other stakeholders.
Having regular one-on-one check-in meetings with your boss is a good practice.
It creates a good opportunity to discuss with your boss what you are working on, progress and accomplishments and any challenges that you are facing.
One-on-one meetings can be scheduled on various intervals such as daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. A comfortable interval is either once a week or once every two weeks.
Use these meetings as opportunities to get input and feedback from your boss on how you are performing. Take good notes during check-in meetings.
Proactively prepare an agenda for each meeting and submit it to your boss prior to the meeting to give him or her a chance to review it and note down the points that they would like to discuss with you.
Endeavor to pay great attention to details for any activity you are working on.
Be known as someone who takes time to plan, then properly execute and review work after it has been completed.
Over time your boss will come to trust on your reliability thus strengthening your working relationship.
Ways of paying attention to details include: preparing a to-do list; prioritizing your work; following instructions well; proofreading your work; ensuring proper formatting of documents and observing body language and responding appropriately.
Other ways include: connecting the dots by seeing trends and making projections; double checking calculations and totals; developing and using checklists; recalling information such as names, dates, events etc. and having strong observation skills.
A strong team player is able to forge relationships with colleagues within their department and also in other departments.
Bosses get pleased when they receive good reports from others about their direct reports.
Skills to become a valuable team player include being organized; understand different working styles of colleagues; ability to communicate well to different people; sharing relevant information; collaboration; cooperativeness; trust; listening attentively, respecting others and ability to make decisions.
Other ways to work well with others are leveraging the unique strengths of team members; involving others in planning and execution; clarifying issues and misunderstandings; staying on track; participating in group work and team meetings; generating ideas during brainstorming sessions or meetings and getting ideas from team members.
Additional ways are leading meetings; being available for any questions; researching and being knowledgeable on topics; giving feedback; ensuring that everyone understands the tasks at hand; assessing logic and risk in options proposed.
Remind team members about common goals at hand and importance of achieving them and thank people sincerely when they do a good job.
When someone is hired they are presented with a job description which details the roles and responsibilities that will be doing.
Typically every year employees have annual performance goals and targets to work on.
These annual goals can be broken down further into semi-annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily targets.
Your number one job as a good employee is meeting your targets. Your periodic evaluations are based on how you perform against previously agreed upon milestones.
By consistently meeting and even exceeding your performance targets, you demonstrate your reliability and your boss knows that they can count on you.
You also create trust by meeting your targets.
Make it a goal to send your boss a weekly or monthly list of your accomplishments to keep them up to date on what you are doing. In addition when you receive any praise from others forward it to your boss.
What kind of attitude do you have at work? Your internal attitude affects the spirit in which you perform your work and also how you interact with others.
Be especially careful about the attitude that you project when interacting with your boss.
Ways to develop a good attitude include being kind to yourself and others; smiling; admitting your mistakes and learn from them; accepting compliments graciously; praising others genuinely; complaining tactfully; identifying the good things that are happening in your life and being grateful; using positive and uplifting words.
Other ways are having a sense of humor; having goals for your life and constantly work on achieving your life’s vision and strengthening your self-confidence by always doing advance preparation.
Being unprepared especially for a planned event can bruise your confidence levels.
More ways include improving your overall quality of life by taking good care of your health; treating yourself well by getting enough sleep, enough rest, eating healthy, staying hydrated and exercising; from time to time go outdoors and enjoy nature and the outdoors and having fun with family and friends.
Having initiative, being resourceful and going the extra mile are all positive ways of strengthening your day to day interaction with your boss and building your credibility at work.
However, the first rule of taking initiative is don’t neglect your primary responsibilities at the expense of doing extra work. You job takes precedence at all times; do it and do it very well.
There are numerous ways of going above and beyond at work such as looking for challenges that stretch you and increase your competency, skills and confidence; anticipating what your boss might require, request or need and preparing for it in advance.
Thinking of solutions for workplace challenges and problems and mastering the big picture about the company, having an interest in the success of the company, its products, services, customers, and thinking of ways to make a positive contribution.
You can also demonstrate initiative by volunteering to help your boss and colleagues; asking good thoughtful questions; improvising and thinking on your feet; attending events, workshops, exhibitions and webinars; writing articles and blogs for the company newsletter or website; preparing video presentations and developing “how to” materials to teach and train others.
Other ways of taking initiative include polishing up your speaking skills by speaking publicly, making presentations and leading more meetings; writing good minutes; observing what other leaders do and seeking role models.
Networking strategically in your organization and with vendors and suppliers, and developing manuals, flowcharts, guidelines, policies and standard operating procedures.
Break the ice by getting to know your boss as a person.
Make a deliberate effort to have a deep, meaningful conversation where you learn more about each other.
Genuine topics such as where you each grew up, where you went to school, what you learnt in school, jobs you have held, your career goals, where you live, family, pets, hobbies, interests etc.
You never know, you might even discover similar interests such as being fans of the same football team or a passion for watching home improvement shows.
Connecting at this level adds richness to your working relationship.
You do not need to be best friends with your boss you just need to make an effort to know each other at a human level rather than a strictly boss-subordinate relationship.
When in doubt consult your boss. If you had received instructions and later on got confused or overwhelmed during execution, it is advisable to take a few moments to consult with your boss.
Clarify, ask questions and take notes to ensure that you clearly understand what is expected of you.
In some cases you can paraphrase to your boss what you heard either verbally or in an email to ensure that you are both on the same page.
If there are any additional misunderstandings your boss will let you know.
Bosses value employees who are tactfully in handling sensitive and confidential information.
Sometimes you might be required to sign non-disclosure agreements where you agree to not disclose the confidential information of a company.
Confidential information in the workplace includes trade secrets; human resources records; personal information; salary information; medical records; list of customers and their contact information; production or operation processes and prototypes.
Others include formulas; business plans; financial information that is not publicly available such as budgets, profits, losses and revenues; financial projections; credit card information; product designs; proposals; sales and marketing plans; software and technology systems.
To be highly productive and efficient at work, practice being focused. We constantly face pressure to do many things within a limited amount of time.
Ultimately we end up doing many things at the same i.e. multitasking. However, the key question to answer is: What is most productive – multitasking or single-tasking?
The most prevalent form of multitasking in the technological age is talking or listening while looking at one’s phone – either simultaneously sending a text, catching up on news, social media etc.
Another form of multitasking is working on and having several pages or applications open at the same time on the computer.
The downside of multitasking includes not being fully present in the present moment, not giving someone else your undivided attention and missing out on key pieces of information because you were not paying full attention.
It takes a lot of mental effort to switch from one task to another in a back and forth motion. To do an activity really well you need to be fully immersed into it.
The disadvantage of spreading your time over many pieces of work is ending up with many half-finished or poorly finished results.
It is also possible that instead of saving time you could actually end up spending more time having to correct or re-do work that was not done properly in the first place.
A better alternative is to prioritize tasks and do things in a sequence.
Whereby you work on the first item then when you complete it you move to the second item, then the third item etc. thereby creating a rhythm that would propel you towards actually accomplishing better results than if you were jumping from one activity to another.
You could also pair up similar activities and complete them in groups such as responding to all unread emails, then writing reports, then preparing budgets, and then returning phone calls.
Typically, interruptions are inevitable in the course of working.
You can deal with and manage interruptions by making a brief note of where you were or what point you were at in your work when you were interrupted so that this can help you to quickly restart from where you had left off.
Focus on solutions instead of problems. When things breakdown, brainstorm solutions to solve a problem and help in analyzing available options.
Find out why processes and standards were not followed and how to prevent this from happening again.
Ask questions to help figure out corrective action.
Become known as a problem solver in your organization; someone who offers suggestions and recommendations for corrective action.
When you approach your boss, present a set of solutions and accompany this with pros and cons for the proposed solutions.
This makes your boss’s role easier because they simply have to select the best course of action rather than figuring out from scratch what the solution to a problem should be.
Offer a lending hand by training others. Willingly share your skills, knowledge and expertise with others.
You can train colleagues, new employees, interns and even managers.
Train new colleagues and interns about the company, department roles and how to do specific job responsibilities, how to use company systems, introduce them to team members and learn more about each other.
If you learn something new at a training, workshop, seminar or webinar, cross train colleagues and share relevant training materials with others.
Show others tips and tricks for doing processes faster and efficiently. Share a tip during regular team meetings.
Take others under your wing and mentor or coach them. Bring out their potential, encourage and help them to grow in their careers.
If you come across something valuable in the news, online or a report, share or forward this information to relevant colleagues who might benefit from it.
Organize brown-bag sessions or simply schedule a training meeting where you walk colleagues through specific topics that you have expertise in.
Prepare your mini-course that includes the main training objectives, an outline of the lesson plan and detailed information for the topic you want to teach.
These training materials can be recycled and shared on company intranet for wider distribution.
Become a fast learner and new adopter who quickly learns new systems and processes and then turns around and trains others.
If you have been promoted or are leaving for a new job opportunity, either take time to train your replacement or train colleagues who can then train your successor.
Prepare good handover notes that document key steps and procedures for doing your job, performance goals, notes showing what tasks are pending and useful reference materials that can help someone succeed in the role.
Speak respectfully to not only your boss but also your colleagues and other stakeholders.
Respect your boss’s time and avoid unnecessary interruptions.
A healthy dosage of respect at work fuels the interplay between your independence as a professional and cherishing your interdependence with your boss where you both need and rely on each other for success at work.
One of the profound challenges that many people face is trying to keep their word.
We usually make promises with the best intentions of keeping them but due to either external circumstances or internal shortcomings, we end up not honoring our promises.
As this cycle keeps repeating itself over time a person tends to loose credibility where their word or promise has little to no weight.
However, the behavior of keeping your word can be learned over time and achieved through a series of small wins.
Start off by promising something small and give yourself more time to do the thing that you promised to do so that you do not get caught up by the deadline pressure and have to rush to quickly fulfill your promise or risk breaking your word and let it go or be tempted to conveniently forget to do what you had promised to do in the first place.
As you build your reliability muscles through a series of small wins you can then graduate over time to confidently giving your word on bigger things and coming through.
The net effect is that people will trust you more and look up to you as someone that they can count on.
In the workplace it will open doors for you to propel you towards higher responsibilities, recognition and even promotion. Bottom line is when you say you will of something you do it.
At a very minimum when you make a promise and due to overwhelming circumstances you are unable to make good on the promise, it is best to give a timely heads-up to alert the other person. Don’t make excuses.
Be on your boss’s good books being consistent. Your boss should know that they can always count on you.
Some examples of being dependable include: consistency in performance, attitude and work quality; maintaining passion for the company and what it does; keeping your word; being reliable; being punctual and meeting deadlines.
Other ways are being organized; stepping up; providing timely updates; assisting colleagues and being a good team player; participating in meetings and sharing your ideas, thoughts, opinions, suggestions and recommendations.
In the course of work, there will be moments of disagreements between you and your boss. This is just natural just like in any other human relationship where people face ups and downs.
A key skill to nurture is learning to reconcile. Reconciling strengthens the working bond.
Nurture the ability to forgive each other, apologize and move forward.
When you emerge through disagreements, it actually strengthens your bonds because you learn more about one another and emerge more mature and enlightened from the experience.
Misunderstandings between you and your boss can arise from circumstances such as lack of communication when either party does not communicate what is going on; when someone takes all the recognition for work done and the boss showing favoritism or does not enforce rules consistently.
In addition, conflicts can occur when the other team members don’t work as they are supposed to and team members making critical mistakes such as missing deadlines or poor planning.
There should be no personal attacks. Give feedback in a respectful manner. Identify the specific behaviors and how improvements can be made, not an attack on the person.
Bosses are also human and they make mistakes.
Always give feedback from the mind frame and perspective of someone who cares, someone who believes in the other persons potential and you would like to see them succeed.
It takes courage to speak up to seek an amenable solution with your boss. When you meet your boss have brief notes or a list of what you would like to discuss about.
Remember that deep down your boss wants to improve as well; they also have their own performance targets and part of their success feeds from you being successful.
Demonstrate an interest in improving your knowledge, skills and abilities. Working on your professional development should be a feature of your annual performance plan.
Plan and discuss with your manager which areas you would like to improve on.
Your manager can also point out which areas they want you to improve on and identify a time frame within which progress is expected.
Proactively take steps to do relevant training and regularly update your boss on the progress you are making.
A good supervisor is genuinely interested in knowing your career goals and they are available to cheer you on and support you however they can.
They can also act as your accountability point person to keep you on track on your professional development goals to ensure that you are making progress as you had planned to do.
How do you seat or stand? What is your posture saying?
How do you speak? Are you too loud, too soft or just the right amount of intonation or voice projection? Are you speaking nonstop without letting others put on a word?
Are you just quiet and not putting in a word? What facial expressions are you projecting or giving out? Are you smiling or frowning? What emotions are within you – are your emotions “leaking out”?
A winning formula for making a good impression is: dress professionally, groom yourself well, walk confidently, stand tall and straight, smile, maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, be polite, be upbeat and positive.
Other ways of making a good impression are be genuine, be assertive and self-confident, remember the other person’s name and don’t interrupt when others are talking.
Project your voice well, listen twice as much as you talk, take good notes and demonstrate understanding or clarification by briefly paraphrasing what you heard.
A good habit to cultivate is to proactively ask for feedback often so that you can use it to improve yourself. For feedback to be beneficial it needs to be specific and not general or vague in nature.
Feedback is a key component for continuous growth and improvement.
Feedback lets us know when and where we are making progress and when and where we need to make adjustments including areas where we need to make corrections and resolve problems.
Feedback offers a good opportunity to ask questions and extract in-depth observations that are candid and aimed at building up not tearing down.
Fresh feedback is always the best; it is high on impact, rich in value and is transmitted when your antenna is positioned at the appropriate frequency and wavelength to receive and absorb the feedback that is being broadcasted.
It is very refreshing to hear someone give you feedback from another angle regarding something. You get to see another point of view and it opens up a whole new dimension or perspective.
Just like an antenna radio functions best when its antenna is raised high or a flag which flies majestically when it is hoisted up a flagpole likewise you should open up your mind to receiving different viewpoints.
It is a good idea not to get permanently married to your own ways of thinking and doing things.
There is usually a better way of doing things out there, or a better way of solving a problem, or a different way of looking at a situation or a challenge.
When receiving feedback, remember to thank your boss for taking time to give you feedback.
Also use the opportunity to probe a little and ask a few clarifying questions to get the maximum utility or usefulness from the feedback given.
Learn what your boss likes and doesn’t like. What is their working style?
How do they make decisions? How do they prioritize work? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
What are your peak performance periods during the day versus your boss’s? Is your boss a morning afternoon or evening person?
How often does your boss want updates or check-in meetings? What type of type and length of meetings does your boss like?
What is your boss’s preferred mode of communication? Does your boss prefer communicating through email, text, telephone, voice mail, face to face or instant messenger?
Mirror your boss’s preferred mode of communication.
What is your boss’s management style? Is he or she hands-on or hands-off? What is your personality type versus your boss’s personality type?
The last thing you want to do is to upstage your boss in public by trying to appear smarter than your boss, questioning your boss in public or correcting your boss.
If done repeatedly, such behaviors send wrong signals to all. Your boss will feel belittled and embarrassed.
This is not a good feeling and it could affect the trust level in your relationship, breeding suspicion and mistrust.
It will keep your boss on edge, walking on eggshells and watching their back each time you are around.
If your boss messes-up in public, the best place to respectfully give feedback is in private.
Don’t gossip about your boss or other employees. Closely related to gossiping is negativity, avoid negativity and steer clear from office drama.
Be loyal to your boss.
You can avoid getting caught up in gossip by not commenting; excusing yourself; changing the subject; staying busy; commenting only on the good in others and avoiding gossipers whenever possible.
Avoid gossip by catching people doing good work and genuinely praising them on these actions or behaviors and choosing good friends in the office with whom you can interact positively.
Bosses need praise as well. Praise your boss; congratulate him or her when they accomplish something great.
Recognize your boss when they have assisted you to accomplish a key activity.
Share credit with colleagues too. Remember to acknowledge and thank team members for their efforts in making a task, project or an event a success.
Praise others both privately and publicly.
When recognizing others for their contribution, mention the specific ways in which they helped such as their input, support, guidance, advice, mentorship etc.
You will nurture a lot of goodwill in the workplace by being known as someone who shares the credit because after all nobody likes a credit hog.
Sharing the credit builds trust; it encourages creativity, innovation and collaboration which all benefit the company.
Cultivate the ability to visualize both the big picture regarding the company’s goals and also the small constituent parts.
Know how your job fits into and supports the overall mission, vision and strategic goals of the company.
Take time to understand the major goals of the company as well as comprehend all the little moving parts that feed into the big goals.
Understand how your boss’s role supports the overall organization.
Know your department’s major roles and where your department fits in the organization chart.
Become knowledgeable in issues such as: What products and services does your company sell? Who are the major customers?
What are the best methods of satisfying the customers? What does the competitive environment look like? Who are the main competitors?
What does the industry and regulatory environment look like? What do other departments do?
What projects are your team members working on? What are the short term and long term goals of your department?
Who you hang around with or regularly associate with in the office can have an impact on how you are perceived by your boss, other colleagues and upper management.
If you constantly hang around trouble makers it can cause stress for your boss as well because he or she is accountable to higher-ups who might question why their team member is in the wrong company.
Deliberately choose the company that you keep in the workplace.
Avoid packs and cliques. Avoid any group labels. This is especially true if you are highly ambitious and desire to rise in your career.
Be known for your independent thinking, team work, high quality results and superior performance.
A strategic way of improving your relationship with your boss boils down to how you manage change.
Do you openly resist change or do you learn what the change is and embrace it accordingly?
Change is a common feature in many organizations. It could be a big change such as a merger or implementing a new operational system or a small change such as working remotely one day per week.
Change is typically resisted or opposed for a number of reasons such as fear of the unknown; wanting to maintain the status quo; resentment for not being involved in planning the change process; the change is poorly communicated or rolled out; not wanting additional work; fear of losing one’s job and lack of trust.
How then do you embrace change?
By knowing what is being changed and why; understanding the need for the change; appreciating the urgency; understanding how the end goal looks like; continuously working on building trust between you and your boss and giving your input and feedback to the change and the change process.
Other ways of managing change include breaking down change into a series of small steps; being an early adopter who is committed to change; diagnosing any resistance by listening to team members who resist change and complain; reviewing the roll out progress at specific intervals and supporting your boss in communicating the need for the change.
Good manners at the work place can be exhibited through being kind, considerate, polite and helpful.
Simply saying good morning to colleagues and your boss shows that you respect them and acknowledge their presence. It is one of the simplest gestures to do every day and it gives a good start to the day.
Likewise say goodbye, good evening or good night to colleagues as you head out at the end of the day.
Ways of being considerate to others include not having loud personal conversations on your cell phone; using a friendly tone in verbal and written communication; respecting people’s time and keeping appointments.
Not interrupting others when they are busy; cleaning up after yourself e.g. microwave, dishes or meeting rooms and sharing information responsibly.
The words please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry and I apologize should be part of your common vocabulary as you interact with others both in the office or remotely.
Always strive to be kind. Help others whenever you can.
Avoid never ending complaints, be happy for others, respect the opinions of others and give others your full attention when they are talking to you.
Additional Resources on Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss
- 14 Tips For Improving Your Relationship With Your Boss
- 12 Ways To Build The Best Relationship With Your Boss
- How to Establish a Good Relationship With Your Boss
- How to Build a Better Relationship With Your Boss
- 10 Tips to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss
- 7 Ways to Have a Good Relationship With Your Boss
- How to build a great relationship with your boss
- 5 Secrets to Developing a Better Relationship With Your Boss
- 4 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Manager
- How to Build a Good Relationship with Your Boss