How to Build a Better Relationship with Your Boss
Deb Ward / MARCH 31 2021

Your relationship with your boss is critical to your success in your career. No one is in a better position to help you get ahead and give you what you need to succeed, while meeting his/her own goals. You have to work together to build an effective team and a productive work environment.

Here are 15 ways to develop a better relationship with your boss or repair a bad relationship:

  1. Look around. Does your boss have a strained relationship with others on your team? Does everyone have a hard time with him/her? Or is it only you? If you all have trouble with him/her, you have some common ground on which to work together. And, if it’s you, it’s time to figure out what happened and what steps you need to take to fix it.
  2. Think specifically about what’s not working. Make a list and see if you can validate some of your assumptions.
  3. Consider a one-on-one meeting to discuss the issues. Calmly explain that you think things are not working and explore how it can be improved.
  4. Once you’ve discussed the problem(s), come up with a plan to change things and meet your job objectives. Even if it’s a personality conflict and you don’t agree on much, you have to find common ground to move forward so you can both meet your goals.
  5. Try to evaluate your boss’s motivation. The bottom line is to make your team and your boss succeed. Try to work around any faults you each have and take the initiative to rally the troops to accomplish the tasks at hand.
  6. Things change over time. Be aware that whatever difficulties you’re facing today are no necessarily going to continue forever. If you can, don’t get so focused on the current problems to the point that’s it hurting your performance – eventually you or your boss will move on.
  7. Communicate well. Keep your boss in the loop when you’re trying something new or if there’s a problem. No one likes to be blind-sided. And take the time to figure out how he/she likes to communicate: do they prefer email, text, phone call or in-person meetings? Work with them to find the best way to share information.
  8. By all means, admit your mistakes. Take responsibility and then take the appropriate action to prevent it from happening again in the future. Try not to keep making the same mistakes again and again.
  9. Offer to mentor or train a new employee. When someone new joins the team, offer to show them the ropes and get them up to speed. That’ll free your boss to focus on the big picture and continue to support all of you as a team.
  10. Set up a regular meeting to “check in.” If you can meet every 2 weeks or whatever seems right, that’s the time to ask for advice or guidance and then be sure to follow it. Give him/her an opportunity to weigh in on how you’re doing and make course-corrections before a problem develops.
  11. Make your boss look good. Do what you can to support him/her in public during a discussion or a meeting. You don’t want to fake it, but let them know you’re on their side. Be loyal.
  12. Bring solutions, not problems. When something isn’t working, say so, diplomatically. Figure out what you can do better or differently and explain why you think it will work. If you don’t have a ready solution, be willing to brainstorm with your boss to find one.
  13. Show your appreciation and get to know your boss on a more personal level. Try to find some areas where your interests overlap. That doesn’t mean you pretend, but if you can find some commonalities, you can advance the relationship to another level. Managers are human – get to know him/her as a person.
  14. If all else fails, try to move to another position in the company. It’s an opportunity to learn another area of the business and expand your skill set. Eventually, you may be able to move back into your former area with another boss or at another level.
  15. You can always find another job. If you are truly miserable and cannot make it work, it’s time to move on. Find another company and try to determine the culture and expectations before you accept the position.