When it comes to your job, one thing that can have a major impact on whether you love it or don’t stick around beyond the first six months is your boss. So it’s important to try and build a good relationship with your boss or at the very least a successful working relationship since being able to do this can have a positive impact on your career long term. But how can you improve your relationship with your boss if things aren’t going well?
You’ve probably heard the saying that people leave managers, not companies and it’s no surprise, because who wants to have a personality clash with the person who holds the purse strings! We all love a challenge but no one wants to feel like you’re going in to do battle on a daily basis.
Regardless of what your boss is like and what their personal style or approach is, if you want to stay in the job without losing sleep (and hair) you’ll have to work on improving your relationship and there are a number of things you can do to make sure your relationship is as successful as it can be, so you don’t end up quitting a job you love because of your boss.
Here are 10 top tips on how to improve your relationship with your boss.
1.Increase your self-awareness
When relationships aren’t at their best tensions can get easily frayed and miscommunications can lead to misunderstandings which can lead to trouble.
Have you ever got out of bed on the wrong side, and suddenly every conversation you have is leading to frustrations and potential arguments? Why is everyone out to drive you mad or get at you?
In comparison, have you ever noticed that when you’re in a great mood everything goes just that – great?
This is no coincidence. Since you see the world through the lens of your mindset when you’re in a negative mind-frame, things look negative and that one comment from your boss can seem like a lot more.
As you interpret the things that go on around you through the lens of your negative mindset, your reactions will also be negative. Even if you try not to show your emotion, it’s almost impossible. After all, according to the famous research of Albert Mehrabian, when it comes to feelings and attitudes:
7% of the message is in the words that are spoken
38% of the message is in the way that the words are said and
55% of the message is in the facial expression/body language.
Increasing your self-awareness means having a better understanding of yourself and understanding why you do the things you do.
With self-awareness, you’ll know that you struggle with mornings and can be short with colleagues. Unfortunately, while this doesn’t mean forgoing those early morning meetings, what it does mean is that you know you need to take extra care when speaking to people to make sure things don’t come out in the wrong way.
If you’re aware that you can be hot-headed, you’re more likely to choose your words carefully rather than reacting in your natural style potentially avoiding a career-crippling fallout.
2. Increase your awareness
Being aware of what’s going on around you is as important as having self-awareness. This means keeping your eyes and ears peeled for what’s going on in the organisation, in your marketplace, and with other teams and colleagues.
In short, if you’re aware of what’s going on around you, you’ll have a better idea of why your boss may make certain decisions which might have otherwise seemed surprising, you’ll be in a better position to really add value since you’re more likely to understand how your role fits into the wider picture and finally, you’re more likely to know if there are certain challenges which your boss may be dealing with or which may be coming down the line meaning more opportunity to be part of the solution instead of adding to the problem.
3. Understand their preferred style
You may have heard of a number of different personality assessments out there. They each aim to identify what someone’s personality type or trait is, usually based on answers given to a number of questions.
Although you can’t be expected to know what someone’s personality type or trait is, one thing that will often be evident is their style.
Everyone has a preferred style or approach when it comes to doing things and you will know what someone’s style is based on how they speak, the language they use and how they generally go about doing things.
As an example, one person may like to have as much information as possible before making decisions, they might take their time to consider all the options and they may appear to be very considered. On the other hand, we all know someone who seems to do things really fast. They make decisions off the cuff, even if they don’t have all the information. They speak fast and they can sometimes be quite direct.
There is no better or worse style, there isn’t one right or wrong approach. People are just different.
What this does mean is that you’ll be able to work better and more easily with people if you pick up on their style preferences and change your approach and style to suit.
When it comes to your manager, if you want things to run smoothly, get to grips with their preferences and try and work in that manner. If they like to have all the facts, when you go to them for advice or help, come prepared with as much information as possible.
This will mean less frustration as a result and less time is wasted as you won’t end up going back and forth trying to gather more detail.
On the other hand, if you have a manager who prefers the gist, telling them your life story might not be the best idea.
4. Be Prepared
One place where knowing your manager’s style really comes in handy is when you have meetings with them. The value of being appropriately prepared for meetings with your manager really can’t be stressed enough.
If your boss loves the detail, then obviously come prepared with lots of it. But even if your meetings tend to be to the point and a lot briefer, it’s still safer to come fully armed because where meetings are concerned, you can never have enough information at your fingertips.
Even if your boss prefers a brief overview, a high level of preparation will show them that t you have things in hand and your attention to detail will give them more confidence and peace of mind.
Being prepared for any meeting shows that you value peoples time, that you’re organised and that you’re focused on getting to the desired outcome. All things which are valuable when working with people in leadership.
5. Pick your timing wisely
Have you ever been rushed off your feet, desperately trying to meet a deadline or finish something when a colleague tried to ask you a question?
As helpful as you might be, and as patient as you tried to be, you probably felt a pang of frustration, even if it was just a tiny one.
Remember this whenever you need to have a discussion with your manager, and ask yourself if it’s the right time or not.
It’s easy to get caught up in what you need and forget that the other person may have different priorities at that moment.
Timing really is everything and you’ll find that picking the right moment means you’re more likely to get the outcome you want.
6. Use your initiative
One thing that everyone appreciates is initiative. If you haven’t tried 1,2 or 3 things then how do you know you can’t figure it out.
Clearly, this does not apply if your working in a laboratory, operating theatre of any other place where the risk of getting it wrong is high. But for those of us who are working in an office, there’s usually no need to go for help without first having tried at least the obvious.
Making sure you approach your manager having taken a few steps in the first instance will not only show that you are more than capable of using your initiative. It shows that you have an inquisitive, problem-solving mind and that you seek solutions.
7. Don’t give nasty surprises
Have you ever forgotten to do something? Perhaps you forgot to pass on a message when suddenly something happened and from across the office, you hear someone mentioning that they did leave the message.
At that moment, you know that you’ve given your manager a nasty surprise and created an issue, where there was none.
Needless to say, no one likes nasty surprises.
Another example of this is when things may not be going so well with your own workload or projects. The worst thing you can do is not inform your manager. It’s about teamwork and communication and if no one knows what’s going on, then they can’t help. The worst case scenario is that they hear it from someone else.
8. Remember to back up
How many times have you deleted something only to need that exact information one week later?
Keeping records, emails and good notes is critical. Because everyone is busy and they would rather not have to go over the same things again and again and again.
Einstein himself confessed to writing everything down. If Einstein needs to do it, so do you.
There’s nothing better than being able to refer back to the exact conversations or emails that were exchanged.
You could call it covering your a$$, or you can call it just good sense.
9. Stick to the facts
When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to get consumed by your emotions – by how you feel. Of course, this serves no purpose but to create more emotion which fuels the fire.
A more constructive and productive approach is to focus on the facts. As hard as it might be. Focus on what your goals are, what your boss’s goals are, what the team’s goals are and what everyone needs to do to get there.
By focusing on the facts in any discussions, you can avoid drawing the wrong conclusions from things and escalating any issues.
10. Show an interest
Finally, whatever your relationship with your manager might be like, it’s worth remembering that they are human.
And the best way to build a relationship and rapport with just about anyone according to the great book “how to win friends and influence people” is to show an interest in them. Your boss is no different.