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Five Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss

If the kind of relationship you have with your boss can determine how successful you are in your career and ultimately how much money you can earn, why not invest the time and commitment necessary to make sure you and your direct manager see eye-to-eye? Here are five tips on how to improve your relationship with your boss regardless of personality type.

  1. Schedule weekly catch-up meetings. Your boss simply cannot keep tabs on you, know what you are working on, and understand what challenges you face all the time—even the worst micromanager can’t know everything. A great way to make sure that your boss is aware of the work you are doing and what resources you might need to do your job better is to schedule a weekly one-on-one meeting to review what’s going on in your group, business, or team, and how you should be spending your time. You may not actually meet every single week, but having it on the calendar is critical to keeping the lines of communication open.
  2. Send a summary e-mail at the end of every day. This strategy is a perfect way to keep your boss informed and happy – especially if you and your boss are based in different locations. Sending an end-of-day email quickly letting your boss know what you accomplished, what you need to accomplish, and questions that he needs to address will keep both of you productive. If you choose to do this, I suggest limiting yourself to only a few lines or comments per e-mail or promise yourself to only spend at most 10 minutes on composing the message. You don’t want to create unnecessary work for yourself crafting the “perfect” email update. Keep it simple and straightforward – your boss will appreciate your brevity.
  3. Keep a list of the projects your boss is working on posted on your desk. The key to managing up is to be aware of what your boss needs to do and what her priorities are. As her direct report you can make her look as good possible. Ask for and post a list of your boss’ primary objectives and current projects. Keep it pinned or taped to your desk where you can see it so you know what tasks and to-do’s are mission-critical. You will show your boss that you are an asset to her if you demonstrate your ability to handle your own work and contribute directly to her success.
  4. Address any disagreement immediately. You and your boss may not always be on the same page especially when trying to prioritize a key deliverable or determine how to allocate a certain resource. Do not let any disagreement fester and remain unresolved. Insist on talking out any issue you have with your boss on the spot. A good way to think about your relationship with your boss is to think about what you would do with your significant other. A best practice in keeping harmony in all relationships involves both parties committing to resolving differences sooner rather than later. Treat what you have with your boss no differently.
  5. Clarify every instruction to 100% certainty. Never assume that you have fully understood what your boss has asked you to do unless you in fact do understand. Apply the first grade test to the instructions you’ve been given – if what you need to do is so clear that a first-grader could understand it, you’re golden. Anything less you need to get clarity and ask the right questions. If your boss is resistant, point out verbatim what isn’t clear to emphasize where you aren’t sure what the objective is. Your boss should be reasonable enough to recognize where she’s given bad instructions and try to do better. After all, telling you what to is her job. 

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If the kind of relationship you have with your boss can determine how successful you are in your career and ultimately how much money you can earn, why not invest the time and commitment necessary to make sure you and your direct manager see eye-to-eye? Here are five tips on how to improve your relationship with your boss regardless of personality type.

 

  1. Schedule weekly catch-up meetings. Your boss simply cannot keep tabs on you, know what you are working on, and understand what challenges you face all the time—even the worst micromanager can’t know everything. A great way to make sure that your boss is aware of the work you are doing and what resources you might need to do your job better is to schedule a weekly one-on-one meeting to review what’s going on in your group, business, or team, and how you should be spending your time. You may not actually meet every single week, but having it on the calendar is critical to keeping the lines of communication open.
  2. Send a summary e-mail at the end of every day. This strategy is a perfect way to keep your boss informed and happy – especially if you and your boss are based in different locations. Sending an end-of-day email quickly letting your boss know what you accomplished, what you need to accomplish, and questions that he needs to address will keep both of you productive. If you choose to do this, I suggest limiting yourself to only a few lines or comments per e-mail or promise yourself to only spend at most 10 minutes on composing the message. You don’t want to create unnecessary work for yourself crafting the “perfect” email update. Keep it simple and straightforward – your boss will appreciate your brevity.
  3. Keep a list of the projects your boss is working on posted on your desk. The key to managing up is to be aware of what your boss needs to do and what her priorities are. As her direct report you can make her look as good possible. Ask for and post a list of your boss’ primary objectives and current projects. Keep it pinned or taped to your desk where you can see it so you know what tasks and to-do’s are mission-critical. You will show your boss that you are an asset to her if you demonstrate your ability to handle your own work and contribute directly to her success.
  4. Address any disagreement immediately. You and your boss may not always be on the same page especially when trying to prioritize a key deliverable or determine how to allocate a certain resource. Do not let any disagreement fester and remain unresolved. Insist on talking out any issue you have with your boss on the spot. A good way to think about your relationship with your boss is to think about what you would do with your significant other. A best practice in keeping harmony in all relationships involves both parties committing to resolving differences sooner rather than later. Treat what you have with your boss no differently.
  5. Clarify every instruction to 100% certainty. Never assume that you have fully understood what your boss has asked you to do unless you in fact do understand. Apply the first grade test to the instructions you’ve been given – if what you need to do is so clear that a first-grader could understand it, you’re golden. Anything less you need to get clarity and ask the right questions. If your boss is resistant, point out verbatim what isn’t clear to emphasize where you aren’t sure what the objective is. Your boss should be reasonable enough to recognize where she’s given bad instructions and try to do better. After all, telling you what to is her job. 

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