Not liking your boss is one of the top reasons why people leave their jobs, and certainly one of the main factors in whether or not they’re happy there. Daily interactions with your manager can make or break your day–when you’re getting along and communicating well, you feel good when you leave work at the end of the day. If they say something insensitive or do something in a controlling manner that irks you, it can really get under your skin and bother you all night.
Even if you get along for the most part, when someone’s in a position of power and there are results at stake, it can get tense. And in most cases, you’re also responsible for how the relationship goes. “Bosses are not perfect–don’t expect them to be,” explains professional coach Bruce Eckfeldt, founder of Eckfeldt & Associates. Bruce offers up some sound advice on how to improve your working relationship with your boss:
Don’t expert perfection. Don’t use their imperfection as an excuse for your behavior/actions. You may need to cut your boss a break now and again. Hopefully they apologize. If they do, accept it. If they don’t, don’t hold it against them.
Ask you boss how you can best help them. Talk it through with them and give them ideas. Offer suggestions and alternatives in a positive and productive way. Start with being willing to do what’s requests, but then ask if you can mention some other ideas/thoughts. If they say yes, then offer them as possibilities which are open for discussion.
Notice patterns and behaviors and try to anticipate needs. Do you often end up in a meeting and nobody has an agenda? Offer to write one up, or better yet, bring one for yourself and offer people copies.
Be open to feedback. When you get it, just say thank you. The best bosses I’ve worked for have given me direct and candid feedback on my work right away. It can seem harsh, but it’s where I learned the most and fastest. Don’t defend or explain. If you don’t understand the feedback, ask if they can explain it differently.
Never badmouth a boss to others. It’s unprofessional and it will come back to bite you. It doesn’t mean you can’t have different opinions, but don’t make personal attacks to degrading comments to others. Assume anything you can is going to be heard by your boss. Keep it professional.
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Ask about things outside of work and get to know them as a person. Where did they grow up? Where did they go to school? What activities do they like? Don’t overly probe, but be curious. I might stay away from politics and religion, unless its relevant to your job, but feel free to explore non-work topics.
For more great management tips, check out Bruce’s free program, 52 Habits.