Tips to Help You Get Along With Your Boss

Tips to Manage Up for an Effective Relationship With Your Boss

A supervisor having an enjoyable and productive team meeting at a conference room table.
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Boss, manager, supervisor, regardless of the term attached to them, at one point or another in your career, you will need to interact with them. You may see this person as a mentor, kindly pushing you to do your best. Or, you may see them as evil incarnate, bent on making your every breath in the office an ordeal.

The relationships that you create, foster, and manage, with both your immediate boss and other company managers and employees, are critical to your work success and career progress.

It Is Within Your Control

Whether you like it or not, you're in charge of your relationship with your boss. No one will ever share as much concern as you do that the quality of the relationship helps you achieve your goals. Your boss has information that you need to succeed. At the same time, he can't do his job or accomplish his or the company's goals without your help.

You and your manager share a critical interdependence. If you don't accomplish your work goals as a contribution to your department, then your manager will never shine for their responsibilities. While it may seem that you are responsible for doing all the heavy lifting, your boss also has company responsibilities and stress placed onto them. Your jobs are a fundamentally, intertwined team.

An Assortment of Boss Types

Supervisors do come in a variety of skill and effectiveness levels. Some are micromanagers and want to constantly look over your shoulder and others don't mind a delay if your way of completing a project is longer or not as effective. You will find bosses who are easy to talk to and who you can relate to and others who seem to be speaking a different language.

Some managers are just plain bad bosses while others are unaware of what you need from them. You will find supervisors who handle stress and deadlines in stride and those who let the smallest hiccup throw off their whole day.

Much of how you approach and interact with the various category of bosses is up to you. It has been called "managing up". It is challenging, but ultimately, worth your time.

Develop a Positive Relationship

The first step in managing up is to develop a positive relationship with your boss. Relationships are based on trust.

Do what you say you'll do. Keep timeline commitments. Never blindside your manager with surprises that you could have predicted or prevented. Keep her informed about your projects and interactions with the rest of the organization.

Tell the boss when you've made an error, or one of your reporting staff has made a mistake. Cover-ups don't contribute to an effective relationship. Lies or efforts to mislead always result in further stress for you as you worry about getting "caught" or somehow slipping up in the consistency of your story. Communicate daily or weekly to build the relationship.

Get to know your manager as a person—she is one, after all. She shares the human experience, just as you do, with all of its joys and sorrows.

Consider Your Boss

Recognize that success at work is not all only about you; consider your bosses needs as well. Identify your boss's areas of weakness or greatest challenges and ask what you can do to help. What are your boss's biggest worries; how can your contribution mitigate these concerns?

Understand your boss's goals and priorities. Place emphasis on your work to match her priorities. Think in terms of the overall success of your department and company, not just about your more narrow world at work.

Focus on the Best

Look for and focus on the "best" parts of your boss; just about every boss has both good points and bad. When you're negative about your boss, the tendency is to focus on his worst traits and failings. It is neither positive for your work happiness nor your prospects for success in your organization.

Instead, compliment your boss on something he does well. Provide positive recognition for contributions to your success. Make your boss feel valued. Isn't this what you want from him for you?

Understand Your Bosses Working Style

Instead of trying to change your boss, focus instead, on trying to understand your boss's work style. Identify what she values in an employee. Does she like frequent communication, autonomous employees, requests in writing in advance of meetings, or informal conversation as you pass in the hallway? Your boss's preferences are important, and the better you understand them, the better you will work with her.

Learn to Read Moods and Reactions

Learning how to read your boss's moods and reactions is also a helpful approach to communicate more effectively with him. There are times when you don't want to introduce new ideas. If they are preoccupied with making this month's numbers, your idea for a six-month improvement may not be timely.

Problems at home or a relative in failing health affect each of your workplace behaviors and openness to an improvement discussion. Additionally, if your boss regularly reacts in the same way to similar ideas, explore what he fundamentally likes or dislikes about your proposals.

Learn From Your Boss

Although some days it may not feel like it, your boss has much to teach you. Appreciate that she was promoted because your organization found aspects of her work, actions, and/or management style worthwhile.

Promotions are usually the result of effective work and successful contributions. So, ask questions to learn and listen more than you speak to develop an effective relationship with your boss.

Ask for Feedback

Ask your boss for feedback. Let the boss play the role of coach and mentor.

Remember that your boss can't read your mind. Enable him to offer you recognition for your excellent performance. Make sure he knows what you have accomplished. Create a space in your conversation for him to praise and thank you.

Value Your Boss's Time

Try to schedule a weekly meeting during which you are prepared with a list of what you need and your questions. It allows him to accomplish work without regular interruption.

Know Your Companies Goals

Tie your work, your requests, and your project direction to your boss's and the company's overarching goals. When making proposals to your boss, try to see the larger picture. There are many reasons why your suggestion may not be adopted: resources, time, goals, and vision. Maintain strict confidentiality.

Don't Hold Grudges

In your relationship with your boss, you will sometimes disagree and occasionally experience an emotional reaction. Don't hold grudges. Don't make threats about leaving.

Disagreement is fine; discord is not. Get over it. You need to come to terms with the fact that your boss has more authority and power than you do. You are unlikely always to get your way.