Relationships with bosses are tricky. While supervisors are regular human beings who, like the rest of us, probably prefer harmony to conflict, they have things like profits and productivity to worry about, and their efforts to keep everyone on task can strain relationships and lead to tension. And in some cases, that’s putting it lightly.
But as Jim Belosic, founder and CEO of the digital platform ShortStack, writes in a Daily Muse post titled “5 Secrets to Developing a Better Relationship With Your Boss,” there are ways to keep things friendly and mutually supportive. Doing so, he says, is vital, as “a healthy, respectful relationship with your manager can improve your morale and productivity, and ultimately, it can boost your career.”
Belosic’s first tip is to “take the initiative to set up monthly meetings.” These sit-downs are excellent opportunities to discuss the status of projects, kick around new ideas, and generally make sure you’re meeting his or her expectations. It shows you care about your work and are invested in the future of the company, and that’s a great way to foster good relations.
On a similar note, Belosic’s second tip is to “demonstrate your innovation and initiative.” When new projects come up in meetings, volunteer, and if you have ideas of your own, speak up and share them. Again, the idea is to show that you’re eager to grow with the company and continue to become a stronger employee.
On the subject of sharing ideas, Belosic is a fan of striving for “open communication” and feeling comfortable enough with your boss to (nicely) say when you disagree with something. Bosses aren’t infallible, and sometimes, they’ll propose something you don’t think will fly. By sharing how you truly feel, you’ll “build a strong relationship—one in which you know the best ideas will always rise to the top.”
In the same way your boss is fallible, he or she is not some paycheck-signing corporate robot. “Remember your boss is human,” advises Belosic. This means asking questions like, “How was your weekend?” and trying to make your interactions as personal as possible. You don’t have to be besties, he says, but a little friendliness goes a long way.
As a corrolary, Belosic’s final tip is to “be yourself.” You’re a person, too, and if you’re going through things outside of the office that are impacting your work, don’t keep them to yourself.
“I would always rather have employees tell me when something at work or at home is affecting the rest of their lives than to wonder why their productivity has suddenly dipped or why they’ve developed a bad attitude,” says Belosic.