Developing a real friendship with your boss will always seem a little fraught. Too many complications (like them being able to tell you what to do) will prevent a mutual, balanced relationship.
Still, building a connection with your manager can have many long-term career benefits. Even if your relationship remains strictly professional (you never talk about anything other TPS reports and output targets), a bond of mutual trust and respect can create opportunities for you both in the near term and well after one of you have left the company.
With that in mind, find ways to build a relationship with your boss. A personal connection will open the door for more open communications and a more pleasant set of interactions.
Plus, you’ll be better positioned for plum assignments and possible promotions down the road. A strong connection now also improves your ability to get a recommendation down the road, when you’ll need your current manager as a reference.
Here are a few steps you can take to improve your relationship with your boss:
Learn Their Goals
Your boss may do things that don’t always make any sense to you. But remember: Those decisions make sense to them. Find out why.
Your boss has a set of goals they’re trying to accomplish. You might not appreciate all the factors and crosscurrents that go into the decision-making process. By discovering your boss’s goals and their thought process, you’ll have a better understanding of the action plan when it comes.
You can also learn to anticipate decisions and position yourself as a go-to employee.
Loyalty is complicated. Show too much of it without getting any in return, and you’re a sucker. But if you show too little, you’ll have a hard time building any sort of meaningful relationship.
It’s usually better to err on the side of too much loyalty than too little (though you should always maintain a rational cynicism about office politics). Have your boss’s back wherever possible. You want to avoid becoming the office today, but showing loyalty will likely earn you some in return.
Make Yourself Useful
As we’ve discussed, your boss has goals they’re trying to accomplish. The more you can help in that program, the better your boss’s opinion of you will be.
Plug yourself into your boss’s thought process. Find areas where they need help and figure out how to fit in. Volunteer for assignments and learn new skills if needed. You’ll impress your manager and build out your experience and skill set at the same time.
Hearing from your boss can be a stomach-turning experience. No one wants to get criticized. But to build a strong relationship with your boss (and get better at your job), you’ll have to go against your instinct to avoid critique
Ask for feedback. The information you receive will help you improve, making you a better employee. Meanwhile, the sheer act of requesting an evaluation will get you face time with your boss, helping to put you on their radar in a positive way.
Ask for Advice
Another reason for a one-to-one interaction with boss: ask for general advice. It gives you an excuse for a conversation, in a way that butters them up a bit.
Also, the advice might even be good. Your boss (presumably) has more experience than you and works in an industry that interests you. They have stories to share and wisdom to impart.
Finding a position where you can learn from your bosses and grow as an individual provides a solid foundation for long-term career growth. SmartTalent can help you find those positions. Contact them today to find out more.