Most employees forget that it’s not just their boss who is managing them — they are also managing their boss. This doesn’t mean manipulating your boss. Rather, it means building a two-way relationship in order to best accomplish shared goals as a team.
When you manage this dynamic well, you create the groundwork for future success and career progression. Likewise, you’ll be more engaged at work, produce better results, and develop your own skills faster.
So, what does successfully managing your relationship with your boss look like? Forbes Coaches Council members explain below:
1. Manage Up Through Trust
Sometimes you have to manage “up” and not wait for direction to come from your boss down to you. This proactive approach fosters trust. At its simplest, trust is the catalyst for better working relationships, mutual respect, better performance and increased profits. When an employee can demonstrate their contributions to revenue, their boss will see their value. – Dionne Mahaffey, The CPAI Group, Inc
2. Make Their Life Easy
Relationships are about two things:
- Caring about the person.
- Caring about the things the person cares about.
When someone feels you care, the relationship moves beyond the work and trust is built. Your job is to make your boss’s life easier. Their job is to develop you to deliver results. When you are aligned on how to accomplish those objectives, you’ve created a great relationship. – Michelle Tillis Lederman, Executive Essentials
3. Understand Expectations
Asking your boss, “What’s the best way for me to support you?” with clear expectations of what that looks like can lead to a highly successful relationship. Your job is to make your manager look good, like it or not. Their success is your success. Put the ego aside and check in regularly on whether you’re supporting them effectively and how you can improve. They’ll have your back when you care to ask. – Lisa Downs, Development Wise Consulting
4. Establish Boundaries
When you work for a boss they are in effect one of your customers. You need them to be happy enough to want to keep retaining you, but you never want them to feel that they have full ownership rights. It’s thus critical to establish and maintain firm boundaries in regard to how you allow yourself to be treated, accessibility outside of work, etc. If you respect yourself, they will respect you. – Laura DeCarlo, Career Directors international
5. Show You Are Dependable
You are either making things easier or more difficult for your leader. If you want to build and manage a great relationship with your boss, do your own job well first to show you are dependable. Once you have established trust, you can grow influence with your boss by helping them reach their goals, quickly supporting their ideas, as well as challenging ideas with sound solutions. – Chris Robinson, R3 Coaching
6. Bring Solutions, Not Problems
When you manager approaches you with a problem, brainstorm answers or solutions. Take the onus off of them to solve it. At a minimum, work to give them a starting point to build upon. If you have a problem, don’t dump it on your manager. Rather, take the time to solve it yourself, and then check in with your boss. Be a reliable resource. – Julie Kantor, PhD, JP Kantor Consulting
7. Start With Clarity And Ownership Of Outcomes
It’s up to you to get what you accept instead of accepting what you get. Start with clarity and ownership of outcomes. Align your wants and needs and get agreement on what success looks like for each project or duty. Communicate what it is that you want, need, and what’s preventing you from reaching a goal. This allows your manager to effectively support you. – Chad Cooper, Factive Nautics Coaching LLC
8. Remember, You Can Take the Lead, Too
Successfully managing your relationship with your boss means taking the reigns of your own career and development. Take the lead on setting up career chats, sharing what you are exceptional at, and pro-actively approaching your boss with opportunities you would like to pursue. And always ask for and provide feedback. – Laura Garnett, Garnett Consulting LLC
9. Understand Pretty Clear Vs. Really Clear
When you go to the eye doctor he will ask you to look at a picture. He will then switch the lenses and will ask you which one is more clear, A or B? There is a significant difference between pretty clear and really clear. When you think about your relationship with your boss are the expectations pretty clear or really clear? When you think of successfully managing your relationship, think crystal. – Dean Miles,Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group
10. Learn To Execute
If you want to develop a strong and lasting relationship with your boss, commit to doing an outstanding job. Always challenge yourself to be positive, disciplined and willing to learn. Know the company history and the vision for the future. Determine where you see yourself, and go for it! When you execute your role well, you will earn the respect of your boss without sucking up. – Brett Baughman, The Brett Baughman Companies, Inc.
Believe me, I understand being intimidated by a boss. The thing to keep in mind is that bosses are people too, and engaging them in a way that makes your relationship valuable is the key to your long-term successful connection with them.