The relationship between employee and boss is an important one for all parties involved. It is obviously a crucial one for the employee—their manager can make changes in their role and has significant sway over their progression and success within the company.
However, it is also important for the manager to have a healthy relationship with their employees. This is because having motivated employees that understand and respect the manager’s outlook means better quality work and a more positive and cooperative atmosphere in the workplace. This remains true now even for companies with a remote workforce.
Having these strong relationships means the whole organization functions better. Ultimately, it impacts profitability, reputation, and attractiveness as seen by clients of that company. However, these complex relationships are not formed overnight and require some thought and consideration.
Below are six ways that employees can improve their relationship with their boss and hopefully reap the rewards of that enhanced relationship.
1. Take the initiative
Upper management is always looking for and rewarding employees who are innovative and proactive when it comes to approaching projects. Demonstrating your enthusiasm and novel ideas will show that you’re not someone who just turns up because they have to, but that you are adding value to the company.
2. Structure appropriate discussion time
Having a quality dialogue with your boss is clearly one of the best ways you can go about fostering a better relationship. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ‘pop’ into their office to quickly go over some ideas when they are not expecting you. In fact, constant interruptions are more likely to have the opposite effect that you are looking for. The better option is to book a properly scheduled meeting with them with defined time limits. This shows that you respect their schedule.
In addition, because it is a blocked meeting, the time you do spend together is focused entirely on the topic that you have brought up for discussion. This could be anything from the implementation of new collaboration software to organizing a business event.
Use the meeting time wisely to focus on how you can help them achieve company objectives rather than booking in time for “a chat”. Make sure to set an agenda. Discuss short and long-term goals and ask plenty of questions so that you get out the maximum value from the meeting.
3. Use personal communication
Using personal communication can be a difficult balancing act. However, if used correctly it can endear you to your manager in a way that talking about business simply cannot.
This doesn’t mean being overfamiliar. There is a fine line between a few sincere inquiries about their life and making inappropriate comments that may make your boss feel uncomfortable.
The key here is to express real interest in their life outside of the context of work but to not overextend into places that would be considered too personal. For example, asking about their weekend or about a hobby of theirs shows that you care without overstepping the mark.
Understandably, this is now more difficult to achieve with the pandemic still heavily influencing workplaces. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t video call your boss using one of the 8 Skype alternatives that won’t break the bank to catch up with them.
4. Maintain a positive work ethic
If you are not the most confident communicator, one of the best indirect ways of improving your relationship with your boss is to work hard. Even if your boss doesn’t regularly come and visit your team and talk to you directly, the information that you are an efficient worker will get back to them in office chat or more concretely in your performance review. This is more important than ever as some businesses now function with most of their employees working remotely.
This is the perfect demonstration of the maxim “actions speak louder than words”. Your work ethic should also extend to your preparation for presentations and meetings. If you come to these sharing platforms with plenty of detail and well-thought-through ideas, you can show your boss that you are someone they should get to know as a valuable member of the team.
5. Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback from your boss does several things. From the boss’s perspective, it shows that you care enough about the project and your future performance to want to know how to improve. This demonstrates that you are not doing the projects assigned to you because it's your job but because you are genuinely invested in your work they can help the business succeed.
It also shows that you are moving forward, which indicates to your boss that you are thinking about promotion and development. Just showing this intent keeps your name in the forefront of their mind when they are considering employees ready to progress.
In terms of how to actually ask for feedback, again you should ask for a properly structured meeting time that can yield good quality results. Come up with a specific agenda for how you would like the feedback to go.
When you are receiving feedback, it is important to listen actively to what they are saying and take note of how you can improve in the future. This will show that you take this process seriously and that you aren’t just doing this to tick a box.
Lastly, show that you understood the feedback by implementing those recommendations in the next project you work on. Showing that you understood and properly processed your boss’s advice conveys to them that not only do you respect their guidance but that you are capable of improvement.
Again, real-life meetings are more difficult to organize these days. However, there are plenty of other communications platforms you can use to reach out in this way, including video conferencing.
6. Talk about goals
Both employer and employee have things that they want to achieve, both personally in respect to their career and more generally in terms of goals for the company. Making sure that you are aware of your boss’s goals and that they are aware of yours can make a massive difference to the effectiveness of your relationship and the advancement of your career.
Letting your boss know exactly what your plans are and how fast you see these goals being achieved helps them understand what they can do to help you. Being open about what you want from the company or your boss should hopefully prove to them that you are ambitious, honest, and forward-thinking.
Having goals that the boss and employee are both aligned on is also good for the employer as it should boost employee engagement in the company with more cooperative investment in the outcomes.
This information sharing needs to go both ways. In fact, it would probably be more helpful for you to know what your employer’s vision is for the company and their own progression ideas are first. Getting an idea for what they intend on achieving gives you not only an insight into their world generally but a clue to how you can behave to align yourself with their goals.
Elea is the SEO Content Optimization manager for RingCentral, the leader in global enterprise communication and collaboration solutions on the cloud. She has more than a decade's worth of experience in on-page optimization, editorial production, and digital publishing. She spends her free time learning new things.
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