What kind of relationship do you expect to have with your boss?

By Robert Half on 29 November 2021
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

Sure, the workplace is a nicer place to be when we all get along, but it is worth making an extra effort to build a positive rapport with your immediate boss and other senior employees.

The time will almost certainly come when you need their support, assistance or approval.

That’s when having a great working relationship with the boss pays dividends.

Be aware though, there is a world of difference between being the office sycophant and sharing a good relationship with your boss.

With this in mind, here are six simple steps to improve working with your boss.

1. Get the basics right

If you’re new to a role, focus on mastering the basics - completing tasks in the way you have been instructed, before making suggestions that could improve efficiency.

At the same time, be prepared to think independently. Your manager doesn’t have the time or energy to micro-manage everything.

If you know what you should be doing, there’s no better way to enjoy a good relationship with your boss than just getting on with the job at hand rather than constantly asking for direction.

2. Aim to exceed targets

Results count in business, and exceeding targets while maintaining a high quality of work will always underpin a good relationship with your boss.

If you’re hoping to improve your relationship with your manager think about how you could step things up a notch and deliver more impressive results.

Related: The key ingredients to finding a mentor (and keeping them!)

3. Go the extra mile

No one expects you to work back late every night or spend each weekend in the office.

But there will be times when the boss will expect you to work outside of 9 to 5 or go beyond your basic job description.

Being prepared to go the extra mile is sure to improve your relationship with the boss.

Don’t wait to be asked.

Lend a hand to a colleague who is struggling with a heavy workload, or volunteer to arrive at work early during a peak period. Your contribution won’t go unnoticed.

4. Be a willing learner

Demonstrating a willingness to learn new techniques or specialised skills is a sure-fire way to improve your relationship with the boss while also expanding your personal skill set.

By becoming a more productive and valuable employee, you will be taking some of the weight off your seniors, so it’s a win-win all round.

With new skills under your belt, offer to share what you have learned by teaching or training your colleagues.

Or simply lend a hand to help new recruits find their feet in the organisation.

You’ll be adding significant value to your team, and that’s bound to improve your relationship with the boss.

Related: Planning is critical for career progression

5. Be respectful and loyal

Even if your boss has an informal management style, never lose sight of the fact that he or she is your senior.

Respect this seniority, and if you have grievances to air, speak to your boss in private rather than openly broaching the issue in front of co-workers.

If the time comes when you’re ready to leave the organisation and take up a new role, make an appointment to discuss your decision with your employer.

If you have built up a good relationship with the boss to this point, chances are you will receive a counteroffer.

6. Be a pleasant part of the office team

You don’t have to be the go-to person for social events but simply being a friendly, engaging team member will make you a more pleasant person to have on board in a work environment.

This can help to create a more relaxed yet productive workplace where everyone - including you - enjoys their role.

Related: Five: the magic number for career planning

What kind of relationship do you expect to have with your boss?

Having a good relationship with the boss brings a number of benefits.

You’ll relish improved job satisfaction, enjoy the support of senior employees, and when exciting new projects come up there is every chance you will be asked to be involved.

You are also in a better position to discuss with your manager any issues of concern or dissatisfaction in a mutually civil and respectful way.

There can be longer term benefits too. When you are ready to move on, having a good relationship with your boss can mean a more glowing reference.

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