Career Advice

Rocky Relationship With Your Boss? Five Ways To Build It Up

Would you like to be more appreciated by your boss? Feel more comfortable approaching her with requests? Stop worrying about what he thinks of you?

Why not do something about it? As with any human relationship, your behavior and attitude can make a difference in your relationship with your boss. If you want a different type of relationship with her, start behaving differently and results will follow.

First, be conscious of the type of relationship you’re going for — you don’t want to build a connection that’s too friendly or intimate; keep it professional but rewarding. “The ideal boss-employee relationship is one of trust and respect where both individuals work as a team to achieve the goals of the company,” says Deborah Millhouse, president of CEO Inc., which specializes in direct hire placement, temporary staffing and human capital services. “The employee should be supportive of the needs and requirements of the boss so that the boss can reach the goals and complete the job with success.”

Millhouse offers five tips for building a better relationship with your boss:

  1. Make a genuine effort to learn about him or her. “Understand your boss’s personality style and communicate with him in an effective way that supports his temperament,” Millhouse says. “Ask good questions about his or her goals, and then support them.”
  2. Check your bad mood at the door. “Attitude is more important than aptitude,” Millhouse says. “Be full of energy and ready to try anything.”
  3. Use good manners. Just like your mom taught you, simple courtesies like saying “please” and “thank you” can go a long way. Also, “deliver results without being asked or prompted a million times,” Millhouse says.
  4. Communicate openly and clearly. Don’t be stingy with your ideas; contribute good ideas to the team and you’ll be appreciated. Also, “speak up, be accurate, clear and to the point; don’t play the cloaking game,” Millhouse says. No boss wants to spend time trying to figure out what you meant by what you said—just say what you mean in a polite, clear way.
  5. Take initiative. Don’t always wait to be told what to do; when you see something that needs to be done, just do it. “Set good goals,” Millhouse says. And then, “do what you say you will do.”

If your boss is particularly difficult, improving your relationship with her may take more time. View it as a challenge and make an ongoing effort to make improvements. “Most difficult relationships lack trust, so building trust is the first step,” Millhouse says. “Trust is achieved through understanding and communicating effectively with each other. With a boss who is especially difficult, the employee can attempt to improve relations with efforts to open the lines of communications.”