It’s the most important professional relationship you can have – yet how often do you pay attention to it? Here are some ideas to help you build a better relationship with your boss.
1. Nail the basics. Yes, you may be bursting to write a ground-breaking strategy piece for the business that will blow the board’s socks off. But this will only induce ridicule if you can’t hit your deadlines, your writing’s full of errors or you’re way off the dress code.
2. Ask them how they want to be kept informed. Just because you’re brilliant doesn’t mean your boss wants to be excluded from what’s going on. Ask them how often and in what way they want to be kept in the loop, and do that.
3. Give them the heads-up. Most bosses would far rather know that something’s going off the rails sooner rather than later.
4. Adapt to different preferences. One boss might need to give an idea the overnight test; another may go with their gut right there and then. Pay attention to their responses and adapt accordingly.
5. Use your boss’s favoured communication medium. Quick phone call? SMS? Long email? Formal meeting? Or just popping out for a coffee? Using the wrong medium will be like offering them their least favourite brew.
6. Don’t just ask them what to do. Come up with some options before asking your boss for advice. Think through the implications of each and have a recommendation, with reasons why.
7. Never badmouth your boss. Even if you are convinced they deserve it. Even if your colleagues badmouth him/her. Stay professional. If they’re bullying or harassing you, that’s another matter. Take it up with the right person, very discreetly. And be aware that one organisation’s harassment is another outfit’s banter.
8. Become the go-to person for something they value. It might be handling the numbers, raising team morale, or having competitor info at your fingertips. OK, first you’ve got to find out what they value, so there’s a good conversation starter…
9. Give as well as take. Sure, make the most of your boss’s experience, expertise, contacts, whatever. So long as you can give something in return. What might that be? Could be a demo of a productivity app that will really help them, a very discreet guided tour of a social medium, or a playlist for them to Dad-dance to. You just never know…
10. Make their day. One of the best possible ways to do this is to ask them to show appreciation to one of your team for a job well done. Your boss is made aware of good performance and gets an all too rare joyful duty to fulfill. Your team member knows their effort’s been recognised. And you don’t do too badly out of it either, with no trumpet-blowing required.
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