Your relationship with your boss is critical to your success in a particular role.

In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that your boss can make or break a job experience. According to data from DDI, 57 percent of employees have said they’ve left a job because of their manager.

If you’ve recently taken on a new role and want to make it work, then it’s important to proactively build a great relationship with your boss. However, relationships take time to grow. That’s why it’s extra important to start working on it from Day One.

Here are six things you can start doing right now to improve your relationship with your boss.


1. Take the Initiative


The best way to get on your boss’s good side is to continually demonstrate that you’re a value-add to the organization. You do this not just by performing assigned tasks to excellence, but also taking initiative and taking on new projects.

Unless your boss is a sociopath (which is unlikely),  they don’t want to spend time micromanaging you. All they want is for you to perform and add value to the company.

When you take initiative to start new projects, you’re showing them that:

  1. You care about the success of the organization
  2. They don’t have to worry about you “working while you’re at work.”

By taking initiative, you not only contribute to the organization’s long-term success, but you also establish yourself as a leader. If your boss is worth their salt, this will only lead to good things as time goes on.


2. Set Up Regular One-on-One Meetings


No relationship can grow without regular communication. Unfortunately, it’s easy for communication between you and your boss to fall by the wayside—until something goes wrong, that is.

So instead of waiting until there’s a problem to talk to them, be proactive and set up regular one-on-one meetings with them. These can be as simple as 15-30 minutes per week. You’re not supposed to solve all the world’s problems here; it’s just a time to check in and see how things are going.

The main advantage of these meetings is that you can identify potential problems, either in the relationship or in your performance, before they become catastrophic. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

You can also discuss your short- and long-term goals, ask for advice on difficult situations, and see if they have any feedback for you. The goal is to maximize the value out of each session, demonstrating to your boss that you value the relationship (and them).


3. Be Open and Personable


It may surprise you to learn that your boss is a person too. That means you should talk to them as a person, not some faceless entity.

Talk conversationally with them, be humorous (to a point), bring up interests and life outside of work (when appropriate) and remember to be vulnerable with them, particularly around areas where you’re struggling.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should be overfamiliar. There’s a fine line between personable and unprofessional. Generally, it takes experience and understanding about the person to get to this point. So it’s probably better to err on the side of caution, and then open up as you get to know your boss better.


4. Work Hard


Don’t just talk the talk: walk the walk! The best way to build up a positive reputation with your boss is just to work hard.

Establishing yourself as a hard worker is something that has to happen in your first 30-90 days of taking a new role. If you can cement your reputation among both your boss and other coworkers, then you’re probably going to be in a good spot. On the other hand, if people see you as a slacker, that’s a very difficult situation to overcome.


5. Ask for Feedback


Nothing proves to your boss that you care about the organization, your projects, and your performance than proactively asking for feedback.

From their perspective, it shows that you care about more than just “holding down a job” and that you actually want to increase the value you offer to the organization. This also shows that you are interested in growth, which will come back to benefit you when promotions and raises come around.

No one is perfect. When you request feedback, you can identify potential problem areas in your performance and make adjustments before they get out of hand. Of course, this only works so long as you internalize the feedback and make the necessary improvements.


6. Talk About Goals


Both you and your boss have things you want to achieve. Open and honest conversations about these goals can help you both stay aligned and support each other.

Understanding your boss’s goals can ensure that you stay engaged with the long-term goals of the company. And when they understand your goals, they can provide support in career pathing.


Final Thoughts


If there’s been one word that we’ve used over and over again in this piece, it’s proactive.

At the end of the day, that’s the key to maintaining a great relationship with your boss. They shouldn’t do all the heavy lifting; that’s not fair to them or you.

This can be difficult when you have a boss that you don’t necessarily like, or who’s difficult to work with. It’s tempting to bunker down in your cubicle or home office, hoping you can fly under the radar and avoid their ire. But if you don’t take ownership of the relationship, your boss will control your destiny, rather than you.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that you have a toxic and abusive boss. In that case, you could consider switching teams or making another lateral move. If that doesn’t work, then you should probably move on.

But barring an abusive situation, you should do everything in your power to make the relationship with your boss work. Because if you can do that, it can be a massive boon to your current and future prospects.

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