I was recently going through my email when I came across a story pitch for Boss’s Day on Oct. 16. The email made me think about what a challenging year it has been for everyone, and the impact those challenges have probably had on the employee/boss relationship.
In normal circumstances it can be a challenge for employees to build a strong working relationship with their bosses, but when you throw in remote work and the changing office environment caused by COVID-19, it may seem like an almost impossible task.
I’m willing to bet there are many employees who didn’t put much focus on strengthening their relationships with their bosses in 2020. If you fall into this category don’t panic!
The good news is that no matter what your workplace situation is, I believe there are some universal steps employees can take to strengthen their relationships with their bosses, and these steps aren’t overly difficult, they just take a little initiative.
Here are four of those steps.
Discuss Your Career Plan
Schedule a time to have an open and honest conversation with your boss about your career plan. This conversation would include discussion about your current role, how you would like to grow in that role, and future aspirations at the company. Talk about your plans for accomplishing some of these goals, and then give your boss some time to give feedback.
This is an important discussion to have for multiple reasons. For one, it shows your boss that you’re really committed to the job. And second, it’s another way to get your boss invested in your career beyond the normal, everyday job responsibilities.
Set Up A Communication Plan
Some employees work very well on their own and need very little supervision. However, in any job there comes a point where you need guidance from your boss, or come across a decision that only your boss can make.
That’s why it’s important to set up a good communication plan with your boss that gives you guidance about the best times and best ways to reach them. Depending on the complexity of your job this could change on a weekly basis and include multiple meetings a week with your boss.
The communication plan varies by situation, but the important thing is that you and your boss know how often you need to communicate and about what issues. This is especially important in a remote work environment, where it can be easy to lose touch with people if you’re not putting in the effort.
Be Open To Feedback
Don’t get too high when your boss gives you a compliment, but don’t get too low when they give you criticism. For most bosses, the goal of giving any feedback is to help employees grow. You want to put yourself in a position where you can show your boss that you welcome their feedback and are constantly learning and applying it.
Feedback is also another way to open the door to additional conversations with your boss, particularly when it comes to negative feedback. Never take an adversarial tone when discussing negative feedback, especially if you disagree with it. Instead, treat it like a conversation, and say to your boss that you don’t understand their point of view and that you would like some additional clarification so you can understand and apply what they’re saying.
Offer Value To Your Boss
The longer you work for a boss, the more you learn about their daily routine and job responsibilities. If there’s ever anything that you can do in your position to help your boss or take something off their plate, take advantage of that opportunity.
Some may view this as “kissing up,” but I view it as “managing up.” Taking on additional responsibilities is part of growing your career, and helping out a co-worker for the betterment of the team, is a characteristic of leadership.
Don’t offer to help your boss at the expense of your actual job with the company. Only offer to help when you’re in position to give that help. Otherwise, then it may come across as “kissing up.”
Outside of helping out at work, offering value to your boss could be as simple as offering ideas or sharing an industry-related article with them.
The one thing all of these steps have in common is that they encourage multiple conversations with the boss. You don’t have to be best friends with your boss, but you shouldn’t go weeks without talking to them either.
Having some sort of consistent engagement with your boss is the key to building a strong relationship of trust with them.
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