The 6 Best Tips to Improve Your Relationship With Your Boss

An average adult will spend a third of their lives at work, and if that time is spent in an unhealthy workplace, your general quality of life will suffer.

Having a happy boss usually means a happy and productive workplace for you. To help you move from meh to great, here are some tips to improve your relationship with your boss.

1. Have a Strong Work Ethic: Be Focused, Prepared, and Consistent

A young black man is sitting at a table on a laptop working

No one likes a slacker, so it’s only natural that you won’t be your boss’s favorite employee if you’re not being the most effective at your job. It’s difficult to admit that you’re a crappy employee, but taking an objective look at your work ethic might help you put things in perspective.

People with a strong work ethic are dependable, committed, productive, cooperative, consistent, and self-disciplined. They typically make an effort to convey and prove their dependability by being consistently dedicated to their job and its demands. They’re also efficient time managers, great team players, and sufficient self-motivators.

If you’re lacking any of these qualities, that means your work ethic could use some improvement. For starters, you may want to create a system that helps you meet deadlines and finish tasks on time. It’s also a good idea to conduct a time audit, so you can see where your time goes and adjust your habits to be more productive and efficient with your time.


Related: What Is a Time Audit and Why Is It Important?

2. Use Your Initiative

Two people working on a computer

There’s nothing outstanding about employees who only do what they’re told. Bosses usually favor employees who are self-motivated and proactive about finding ideas that add value to the team.

Be the employee who goes above and beyond and is always on the lookout for new ideas, especially ones that will help your boss look good. Yes, you read that right. The best way to make yourself look good to your boss is to make them look good to others.

Taking initiative shows your boss that you’re invested in the company’s success, which will inevitably lead to a better working relationship. Just make sure your search for innovative solutions doesn’t affect your commitment to normal work duties. It would be counterproductive to leave an assigned role in search of unicorn solutions.

3. Avoid Office Squabbles and Gossips

Happy Employees

How you handle minor annoyances will have a big impact on your office reputation. Your boss’s perception of you will be tarnished if you have a reputation for being a troublemaker who requires constant intervention. This will create hostility because your behavior reflects on their leadership skills.

Avoid squabbles as if your job depends on it, which it most likely does. Most disagreements can be easily resolved by simply having a genuine conversation with your colleague, and that’s what you should try to do. If you develop a reputation for resolving conflicts, you will likely be considered for managerial positions.

Also, engage in as little office gossip as possible; if at all, do just enough for office bonding. However, be cautious and tactful to recognize when it becomes counterproductive or even malicious. Avoid negative gossip, especially about your boss, even if it seems like the other person shares whatever grievances you may have about your job or its demands.

These words always seem to find their way back to your boss. That’s just one way to create a wide chasm between you and your superior.

4. Ask for Feedback and Consult When in Doubt

Team members sharing feedback and inputs

No one is an island of knowledge, and the sooner you recognize the value of feedback, the better. Requesting feedback from your boss will be seen as an active effort on your part to improve.

If you’ve been receiving frequent criticism from your boss, asking for feedback would provide you with an avenue to ask for clarification of instructions you don’t understand. Set this up ahead of time: you could request meetings or short “catch-up” sessions with your boss to solicit advice on how to improve whatever is needed.

Take careful notes, and always express gratitude to your boss for taking the time to provide you with feedback. This may also improve their opinion of you, especially if you implement their recommendations.

Apart from helping you get in your boss’ good books, this is also a surefire way to steady personal improvement in a short period. Sure, receiving criticism on a regular basis will be uncomfortable, but you’ll make more progress than if you waited for a year-end performance review.

5. Engage in Honest Conversation

Woman Thinking at Work

Honesty is the bedrock of any relationship—professional or not. Another possible reason why your relationship with your boss is mediocre is that you’re not sufficiently honest. If you’re constantly swallowing your opinions instead of sharing them, it’ll be easy to dismiss you as a dispensable employee.

For example, how many times have you told your boss that one of their ideas isn’t very good?

It’s a difficult conversation for any employee to have, but it’s necessary. Remember that you were hired because you have a specific set of skills that the company values. Your boss cannot be a great-idea-generator all the time, and if you become a yes-man simply because you’re eager to please, you’ll achieve the opposite.

Instead, be confident in your opinions, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you have contrary ideas. Be tactful and polite if you reject a superior’s opinion, and present yours in light of how they’ll benefit the team and the company better. Remember, you don’t want to come across as insubordinate or disrespectful.

Related: How to Boost Your Confidence at Work

6. Remember That Your Boss Is Human

Happy Employees Laughing

Most bosses play the standard professional narrative when they’re in the workplace, and that can make it difficult to relate with them on a personal level. But you have to remember that even leaders appreciate it when their employees see them as more than just the person who signs their paychecks.

Make a conscious effort to do nice things for your boss—it doesn’t have to be grand, and make sure it’s not forced. You don’t have to become best buddies or hang out after work, but demonstrate that you care about their wellbeing, and the gesture should be reciprocated. A genuine “how was your weekend?” here or a cup of coffee when it looks like it’s needed will do. If you’re sincere, it’ll show, and that’ll improve your relationship with your boss.

Happy Boss, Happy Life

Bosses have a big say in what kind of job opportunities and achievements you get.

Even if you’ve left a position, your prospective company may request references from your old supervisor. There’s no better card to play than endearing yourself to your boss.

A man working in office late at night
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