Your relationship with your boss is not only crucial for job satisfaction, but also for getting ahead. So in an ideal world, you have an amazing one, and, when combined with your skills and efforts, it helps boost your career and happiness at work.
“The biggest benefit of cultivating a great relationship with your boss is an increased potential for promotion. Showing a positive attitude and workplace engagement with management doesn’t just make everyone’s job more pleasant — it also shows your bosses you’ll be able to roll with the punches and added pressure of a bigger role when the opportunity arises,” says Brian Dechesare, founder of Breaking Into Wall Street.
While you can’t always control who you end up reporting to, having a great relationship with your manager is something you can influence. And understanding the nature of workplace relationship dynamics is a good starting point to do so, as tweaking your own behavior will have a ripple effect on all your interactions.
“Humans are animals with hardwired instincts. Unfortunately, that means we’re more sensitive to potential ‘threats’ than we need to be in modern society,” says Dechesare.
“Since financial security is so tightly wound into our sense of safety, we’re often on high alert for threats at work. Unfortunately, that perception isn’t always accurate, as we all approach social interactions with our own set of biases.”
Being aware of these tendencies can help you approach things more constructively. Because with expanded awareness, you can start intentionally embodying the habits of people who have exceptional relationships with their boss — and be pleasantly surprised.
They practice compassion
“The best way to cultivate a meaningful relationship with your boss is to practice compassion, even when difficult situations arise,” says Dechesare.
According to him, many people end up feeling resentful at work because they begin to distrust their coworkers or employers.
“The truth is, most people aren’t out to get you. Try to see any situations of conflict from both perspectives. Compassion helps us to maintain a positive attitude toward our relationships, which makes cultivating genuine and meaningful relationships with our bosses easy.”
Your boss is human and bound to make mistakes after all. While that doesn’t mean you should accept toxic or problematic scenarios, approaching any conflict with a sense of compassion is always a good idea.
“Practicing compassion doesn’t always lead to ‘letting it go,’ because in some cases workplace issues need to be addressed to move forward in a more productive way. But if you approach these difficult communications with a sense of compassion for the other party’s feelings, you’ll be less reactive and work through any differences together.”
They are engaged
People who have amazing relationships with their boss also tend to be — and stay — engaged. “Employees that show they genuinely care about the wellbeing of their boss and the business as a whole are ones that bosses want to keep around,” says Dechesare.
Lacking motivation? Don’t wait until that feeling spirals to tune in with yourself and get to the root of the issue. Perhaps you need new challenges. Maybe you’re craving more meaning.
Whatever the case, it’s important to be proactive when you start feeling disengaged because a lack of engagement will only hurt your relationship with your boss if you’re planning on sticking around.
They make things easier
Dechesare says that people who have the best relationship with their boss also tend to be the ones who take initiative to make their boss’ life easier:
“Bosses have a load of work to do to keep their business or department running. Because of all this work on their plate, bosses naturally appreciate employees who make their jobs easier. They want an employee who is positive, keen to take on whatever is thrown at them with confidence, and who takes the initiative to ask what they can do to help.”
They can be critical but avoid venting
Being critical doesn’t mean you’re negative or a bad team player. In fact, in some cases, especially in leadership roles, you need to question things in order to improve them. But it’s important to avoid venting to your boss, even if you’re raising concerns or bringing challenges to the table.
“Criticisms of the company can be incredibly helpful to bosses in the right circumstances — sharing constructive criticisms with your boss and offering solutions is welcomed in the right situation, but venting is something best done with people outside your organization like trusted friends and family members,” says Dechesare.
They maintain healthy boundaries
A great professional relationship does inevitably involve some level of familiarity and rapport. However, professionals who maintain strong relationships with their bosses also have an innate sense of what healthy boundaries look like.
“You’ll also want to take care that a great professional relationship doesn’t cross the boundaries into personal lives in a way that negatively affects your work relationship. Though employees and bosses can cultivate wonderful relationships, they should never be treated in the same manner as a friendship outside of work. “