Building work relationships are intrinsic to experiencing a positive work culture and growing your career. A healthy relationship with your boss is especially important. Your boss is the key holder to many aspects of your career development and contributes to maintaining a hopefully stress-free environment.
Your boss has the power to grant you new projects, positions and raises — not to mention lift you up or crush your spirit with one review. Having a healthy relationship with your boss is the cherry on top of building work relationships and is common sense. In fact, 84 percent of professionals have a positive relationship with their boss, rating the relationship as “good, great or excellent,” while other workers feel the relationship is weak. Still, there is hope to develop a healthy professional relationship with your boss.
Speak Their Language
As you focus on building work relationships, knowing your boss’s and your communication styles are important. If you are more personal with your style while your boss is data-driven, you won’t see eye to eye.
Consider the weight your boss carries on a daily basis. There is no excuse for your boss to pass that stress on to employees, but when you speak your boss’s language, it makes the day flow easier. Take these four communication styles into consideration:
- Functional communicators prefer timelines, well-structured plans and outlines with detail. They want to see every step laid out.
- Analytical communicators need hard data with real numbers. Don’t be vague. Use specific language when pitching or making your case.
- Intuitive communicators envision the end game and want to know what the point is. Don’t get absorbed in the details or they’ll lose patience and focus. Get to the point and give a basic overview, unless they ask for details.
- Personal communicators use emotional language and value communication. They dig deep behind the scenes to discover the relationships. Open up.
Contact Your Boss at the Right Times
Do you stop in the boss’s office with every little thing? Do you hide in your cubicle and pop off an email when consequences are about to drop, instead of before? Have you finally learned to wait until the boss has had their first cup of coffee before your approach?
Depending on the urgency of the matter, you have to contact your boss at the right times. Send quick updates by email. Urgent matters may signal a need for a phone call or face-to-face conversation. If a matter is sensitive, a quick email to schedule a meeting is thoughtful, but keep in mind this may delay their response and make them more frustrated. It’s always OK to ask in what situations how your boss would like to be contacted and when.
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Stop Being a Paper Cut-Out Professional
Building a healthy relationship with your boss doesn’t mean constantly agreeing with them or kissing their shoes. You shouldn’t challenge your boss all the time, but you should be honest when you see another route they don’t. Never correct the boss. Offer up reasonable and realistic suggestions that will build trust.
Do what your boss hired you to do, and demonstrate your value. When you and the team shine, your boss shines.
Get Feedback by Asking for It
Over time, your boss dial downs on giving you feedback, and that may make you feel invisible. Don’t assume your boss doesn’t care anymore. When you’re newer, your boss will lean in to make sure you’re picking up on your job duties, but when you’re on the ball, your boss lets you run it to the goal.
Get feedback by asking for it, and be prepared with an open mind for both positive and constructive feedback. Asking for feedback shows you’re committed to your growth as a professional, and writing down your successes is a way to reassure yourself.
Realize Your Boss Is Human, Too
While you may sometimes feel otherwise, realize your boss is human, too — with stresses, needs, fears, desires and hopes. Give your boss a break and the benefit of not assuming something that may not be true. Get a little more personal and open up.
That doesn’t mean you’re going to be your boss’s new best friend or counselor. Ask the basic questions you use to get to know someone, but earnestly. Try:
- “How was your weekend?”
- “How do you take your coffee? I’m going to the break room if you want a refill.”
- “So, you’re a Steelers fan?”
- “Need help with anything?”
Developing a healthy relationship with your boss is essential to the company’s success, your career growth and developing a positive work culture. Start by asking how their weekend went or asking for feedback, and you’ll begin to build trust with your boss.
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