This column often examines ways bosses and managers can engage employees and establish a positive work environment. Similarly, employees can take proactive steps to foster a positive relationship with a manager. Here are six tips for growing that relationship with your boss:
Speak up and offer ideas. The idea street isn’t one-way. You may come up with an idea your boss hasn’t had or a variation that adds value to an idea of hers. Contrary to popular belief, bosses don’t want to be the only people to have a brainstorm and will appreciate that you are thinking of the bigger picture beyond just getting your job done.
Be prepared for meetings. This not only means completing any assignments on time whether it is your work assignment or a to-do for a meeting, it also means gathering information and knowing what you are talking about rather than just shooting from the hip.
Ask for help when you need it. It sounds counter-intuitive because if you ask for help you’re implying you can’t get your work done. Unfortunately, if you don’t ask, the outcome is either not getting the work done or not doing it well. In either case you would have been better off approaching your boss with your problem.
Be a team player. Teams are here to stay. The success of the team depends on the team being a cohesive group rather than a bunch of individuals all acting independently. Ultimately, the success of the team reflects directly on the boss. Being a team player ensures not only the team’s success but also provides a positive reflection on the boss.
Show acceptance. Making decisions is a boss’s most crucial function and is also one of the most difficult. While your boss may ask for input before a decision is made, once it has been made, your acceptance and support of that decision is important.
Do not undermine. This is one of the cardinal pieces of advice I offer for the boss-employee relationship. When you are frustrated with your boss, do not go behind a boss’s back or over his or her head. It rarely turns out well for the employee. Keep in mind that generally management has a positive view of the boss and is likely to stand behind her. The result: the boss wins and you develop a negative reputation not only with your boss but with your boss’s boss as well. Try to work with your boss to resolve the situation. And if that goes nowhere remember: There are times when it is simply better to let go of a situation than to pursue it and undermine your own position.