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4 Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Boss

At times, management can seem like a one-way street: Your boss dictates instructions and feedback to you and then you execute on this information. This type of thinking; however, diminishes the role that you play in building a strong relationship. And like any good relationship, there’s always room for improvement. In honor of Boss’s Day, these are four things you can do to help build a stronger, more productive relationship with your boss:

Man attending a video conference call with co-workers.

1. Align goals.

Your job is to support your boss’s success. In order to accomplish this, you need to understand your boss’s goals and see how your work plays into your boss’s performance. What are his or her objectives, and how can you support their fulfillment? For example, if your boss is under pressure to generate more revenue, you might identify new ways to shorten the sales cycle by removing decision-making barriers. Or, you might identify service improvement opportunities that will boost customer retention. By understanding your boss’s goals, you can also see how your own day-to-day work is part of something bigger. By positioning your boss for success, you’ll position yourself for success, too.

2. Anticipate needs.

Different communication styles can exacerbate issues like micromanagement. Perhaps your boss is busy and constantly jumping from one task to the next. When he needs information, he defaults to sending urgent emails with a subject line that reads “call me now” or “update me ASAP.” For your boss, this may seem like an efficient and effective approach. For you, however, these urgent emails may be needlessly anxiety provoking. If you feel like your boss is constantly checking up on you, consider how you can better communicate project status and daily performance achievements. Quartz Ideas recommends a weekly or daily performance digest email summarizing completed work, in-progress work, and on-hold work requiring additional details or sign-off from your boss. Proactively communicating project status keeps your boss in the loop and minimizes unnecessary communication conflicts.

3. Educate, don’t intimidate.

In theory, a great manager is open to new ideas and candid feedback. In reality, not every manager is as open as they may claim to be. That’s only natural: Being corrected by a direct report can feel threatening, even if that’s not your intention. Harvard Business Review says the onus is on you, the direct report, to frame your feedback appropriately. Start by identifying the most opportune time to speak with your boss. Next, frame new ideas or improvement suggestions as opportunities to further your boss’s agenda. Understand your boss’s priorities and the pressures he or she may be under. Focusing on how your idea or suggestions will help advance these priorities or alleviate these pressures signals that you're on board and have your boss's best interests in mind.

4. Help your boss help you.

Great managers uncover what’s unique about each person on a team and then cultivate these talents. Give your boss a head start by being upfront about your strengths and weaknesses. What do you bring to the table, and how do these assets complement your boss’s strengths and weaknesses? For example, maybe your boss is great at closing big sales deals but can get flustered dealing with upset customers. Do you keep a cool head under pressure? If so, let your boss know you can be the go-to for addressing customer complaints.

The relationship you have with your supervisor is one of your most critical professional relationships. A strong rapport and mutual respect can turn your boss into your strongest professional advocate, helping you build your skills, take on new responsibilities, and support your promotion to the ranks of management.

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