Editor's note: This is a guest post from Lisa of Getting to Zen. I want to add that this post can also be used for small business owners who need to improve their relationships with their clients. A happy client is just like a happy boss.
I always knew that having a good relationship with my managers was important, however, I didn’t realize how important it was until four years into my career. Looking back on my working life, I could have had many more opportunities for advancement had I worked on building strong relationships with those I reported to.
You see, just keeping your head down (like I did), staying out of the way and getting your job done is not a relationship. Yes, ultimately you want to complete your job duties, but it is equally important to be seen, especially if you are interested in taking on additional job responsibilities or advancing in the organization.
Having a good relationship with your manager is also key to being happy at work. So let’s look at some ways that you can improve your relationship with your manager and increase your work happiness.
1. Perform the basics
One of the most basic but important things that you can do is to show up for work on time. This action alone can count for a large part of having a good working relationship with not only your manager, but also with your co-workers. Punctuality and dependability show respect and trust. Your manager and your co-workers need to know whether they can count on you.
2. Know your manager’s communication style
Some bosses passively sit back and listen while others probe you with one question after another; some want lots of information while others only want the essential details; some bosses relate in a casual relaxed style while others are all business. Part of your job is to figure out how your manager operates and relate to him or her accordingly.
2. Make your manager look good
Your job is to make your manager look good. Avoid falling into the trap of not wanting to perform a particular task because it does not fit your job description. If you are unhappy with the tasks you are performing, set up a meeting and discuss your concerns with your manager. If changes in your job duties cannot be made, you may need to accept that or look for another place of employment. As a side note, I don’t know too many people whose job duties haven’t changed over time.
3. Know your manager’s communication methods
Do you know your bosses favorite communication method? Is it via email, mobile phone or an organized meeting? Find out what works best for him or her and mostly do that. Limit impromptu visits to his or her office. Unannounced visits can take the focus away from what your boss is currently working on. It wastes time as your boss has to then regroup and shift his focus back to his prior engagement after you have left. (Karl's note: Like Lisa said earlier this also depends on your boss's needs. She may like that you take time to talk to her. just pick the right moments, not when she is all stressed out over a big project.)
4. Avoid making excuses
Not only does your manager not care about your excuses, he or she doesn’t want to hear them. It is your job to get your tasks done and to meet the deadlines set by him or her. Your manager does not have the time to continue to prod you to do your job—a job that you are being paid for. Managers already have enough to deal with without additional work being created for them.
5. Do more than expected
Just doing what is expected of you does not set you apart from other employees. Managers value employees who not only do their jobs, but look for and carry out new and better ways of accomplishing tasks. Be proactive, come up with solutions and schedule time to present them to your manager. This will reflect wonderfully on you. Also, volunteering yourself for projects can be a great way to show your initiative and interest in going above and beyond.
6. Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback is a big one for me. Because my boss travels so much, we don’t have too many chances to meet face to face. I will often schedule what I call a “catch-up” meeting to inform him about what I have been working on. I also submit bi-monthly status reports which I am happy to do because I want him to know exactly what I am doing.
Avoid waiting for your six month or annual performance appraisal to get feedback on your performance from your manager, actively solicit it throughout the year. It is through feedback that you will get to know how well of a job your manager thinks you are doing. If your manager thinks you are doing well, there is more of a chance of you keeping your job and getting more job responsibility, raises and promotions.
All relationships take work, including the one that you have with your boss. Communicate often, be respectful, ask questions when you are not clear about what is expected of you and you will be well on your way to working happy.
What do you do on a regular basis to improve your relationship with your boss? How do you make her happy when things aren't going quite right? What tips can you share that will help us improve our relationships and get that raise we need?
Lisa H. (aka RunningBear) is the founder of Getting to Zen - a personal development blog dedicated to those in pursuit of authentic happiness through purposeful living. You can follow her on Twitter.
* You should probably check out my post over at Super Power Coach - How to Discover Your Superpowers. It explains how you can create more value at work to earn your boss's respect.
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Image courtesy of baldheretic
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