Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss and Reap the Benefits

Treating and developing your relationship with your boss—especially your direct manager—as a key resource in your career planning can lead to greater career opportunities and satisfaction. Which makes sense, doesn’t it? A manager has direct influence over workplace atmosphere and stress, your advancement within the company, and possible moves outside the company. A good relationship with your boss also helps you better weather stressful periods and quickly resolve any work issues.

Here are some steps to help you improve your relationship with your boss and help you “manage up” in your career:

Get to know them as a person. To make the most of the hours you’ll spend with your manager and to affect their influence in your career, you’ll want to develop a personal relationship beyond the basic boss-employee dynamic. By asking questions about their personal, educational, and professional background; the lessons they’ve learned along the way; what they’d like to see accomplished within the team; and what their passions are, you’ll better understand their behavior and begin to understand how best to collaborate with them.

Understand their goals. This includes their perspective and the objectives given to them from upper management as well as their personal vision for the department. Set up a one-on-one meeting (even better, set up a reoccurring meeting) and ask how they envision you directly affecting these goals, then you can suggest other ways you might help. Ideally, you’ll always want to have a clear idea of how to shine at your job and how it contributes to bigger-picture results.

Anticipate their needs. Once you know your manager personally and their goals, you can begin to anticipate their needs. You’re more likely to successfully contribute to projects and become top of mind for them when it’s time for promotions, raises, a glowing recommendation, or taking you up on your suggestion for an expanded role. Anticipating their needs includes knowing how they preferer to communicate and receive communication, knowing what’s on their calendar to prioritize your own work, and understanding how your team interacts with the company as a whole.

Don’t leave them to be blindsided. Your boss doesn’t want to get a phone call or an email about an unhappy customer or a project that’s fallen behind schedule and the big boss has noticed and is unhappy—but they especially don’t want to be in these situations without some foreknowledge and time to prepare an appropriate response. Don’t hold back crucial information that could help your manager handle a difficult communication, even if it means a tough conversation between the two of you. Get your boss the details: any corrective action you’ve already taken or plan to take, what the plan is to prevent this in future, and any obstacles or challenges you faced in handling the situation.

Strive for excellence in your work. If you’ve maintain open lines of communication with your manager on your progress and achievements, this should quickly become self-evident. Be mindful in upholding your commitments, meeting deadlines, following up and leading crucial discussions, and engineering solutions that don’t require your boss to step in every time you face a challenge. This will also make your boss’s life easier and won’t require they micromanage you—which they’ll appreciate!

Suggest how they can best leverage your talents, strengths, and experience. No one knows you better than you, so while you’re building a mentorship relationship with your boss, be your your own advocate and share how you think your boss can take advantage of all of your talents. This is where true collaboration begins in managing your career with your boss’s help.

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