The relationship with your “boss” will be the cornerstone to your success and your career, not to mention the relationship you will have with your co-workers.  And when it comes to your boss, you are in-charge of that relationship.

Face it, no one else will care as much as you do about the relationship you have with your boss.  No one can help you reach your career goals or give you needed information as much as your boss.  At the same time, your boss needs your help to accomplish his or her goals as well.  You both share a real interdependence with each other.

Bosses come with a variety of levels of skills and effectiveness.  Some are just plain bad; unaware of your needs or uncaring for you as a person and your dreams and aspirations.  There are some that will view you as a one-way street for them; you give and they take.  Managing them can be quite the challenge, but worth your time if you expect to be successful, learn and move forward.

So, how do you develop an effective relationship with your boss?  Here are some tips that can help you, your boss and the organization.

  1. Relationships are based on trust.  Do what you say you are going to do.  Keep your boss informed about projects and timelines.  You never want your boss surprised with problems that you knew about and could have been communicated.
  2. Put the needs of your boss first.  There is more to your life at work than your success.  Learn how you can help.  What are the boss’s priorities?  What would success look like with the department and/or the company?  What can you do to help?
  3. Tell your boss when an error has been made.  A cover-up didn’t work for Nixon and it won’t work for you either.
  4. Try to get to know your boss as a person.  He or she shares the same human experience as you do.
  5. Focus on the best parts of your boss.  Each boss has good and bad attributes.  If you focus on the bad parts all the time, it will cloud your happiness at work as well hinder as any success you might have with the organization.  Make your boss feel valued.  After all, you want that from him as well, right?
  6. Your boss will most likely never change.  Who they are has helped them in the past.  It is what they have become and their past actions and success from their previous bosses reinforced what they do and will do.  Your boss might change, but instead of waiting that out, try to understand your boss’s work style.  The more you understand their preferences and style of work, the better you will be able to work with your boss.
  7. Listen and learn from your boss.  There will be days where you doubt that there is anything you can learn from this person, but the company found many things about their work, business style, etc., and promoted the person to their current position.  Promotions are usually earned and a consequence of delivering results and successful contributions to the company.  Listen more than you speak to develop a successful relationship.  But sometimes, disagreements do occur.  Don’t hold a grudge.  Don’t make threats about leaving.  Disagreement is fine; discord is not.  You are unlikely to always get your way and after all, your boss will always have more authority than you do.
  8. Learning to read the mood of your boss can be helpful to be able to communicate effectively.  There are good times and bad times to introduce new ideas.  If the boss is preoccupied with the budget your idea for long-term improvement of something may not be timely and given full consideration.  Also, if the boss reacts to your ideas the same way each time, find out if there is something fundamentally the boss likes or dislikes about your proposals. When presenting ideas, try to keep the bigger picture in mind.  There may be good reasons why an idea might not work into the organizations overall goals.
  9. Your boss can be a very busy person.  Keep that in mind.  Schedule a weekly or at least a monthly meeting for a discussion.
  10. Let the boss play the role of coach and mentor.  Ask the boss for feedback.  The boss can’t read your mind.  Make sure the boss knows of your contributions.

Do you have any tips?  Let me hear them in the comments section.