Your leader has the greatest impact on how you feel about coming to work every day. They have the ability to impact what work you do, the quality of the team you are in and how much information you get. They are the people that help you feel connected, feel heard, and feel valued. They can encourage you to do more, or, limit your contribution in a thousand different ways.
So how good is your relationship with your boss? I mean really?
Do you give each other feedback? How about recognition? How often do you talk 1:1? Do they understand what motivates you? Do you trust them? Do they trust you? All of that can seem a little daunting.. but great leader/team member relationships have all that and more.
In an ideal world you and your boss know how each other works, what is important to each of you and leverage each others’ strengths to get maximum results. After all, great teams are made up of diverse people who can contribute different things!
At ethree we strongly encourage leaders to connect with new team members when they join and let them know how they like to work, any ‘pet peeves’ and what they expect from working together. We call this ‘contracting’. Contracting drives understanding of expectations, allows you to navigate difficult situations more effectively and generally just understand each other better which is the bedrock to an effective relationship. So if you can, start contracting with those around you (you can check out our tips sheet and video on contracting if you need some help).
But, if you haven’t contracted with your boss and that doesn’t seem likely to happen, and you’re not sure you have the best possible relationship with your boss and would like to maybe take it up a notch, here are our top tips to building a better relationship:
1.Know and value their agenda
Trust is a key part of any successful relationship, but trust has to be built. In part, trust comes from believing that someone else supports what is important to you. So, do you know what is important to your boss? I don’t mean getting the task done. I mean what is truly important to them. Why do they do their job? How do they want to be seen in the organization? What do they want to achieve? The more than you can understand what is important to them and support it, the more that they will see you as someone that helps them, and that builds trust.
2. Check in before you’re asked in
Nothing helps me more than my team giving me timely updates BEFORE I have to ask for them. Your boss is your most important stakeholder, they should never be surprised by events you are involved in. The more you know about their agenda the easier this is to figure out. And if you are not sure what to share with them them, then ask them; “How and when would you like to be updated and on what?” At ethree we recommend weekly 1:1s for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that it is a neat way to keep your boss in the loop on everything they need to know. Ask for a 30 minute 1:1 regularly with your boss so you can get feedback from them and provide them with updates to help them.
3. Bring solutions all the time
Your boss has a lot to think about. Chances are, they have more people to worry about than just you. If you don’t like something or think something needs to be changed then raise it, but make sure any time you bring an issue to the table you come with 2 options on how it could be addressed. Just coming to the table with issues, however well intentioned, is like bringing headaches. So don’t raise something unless you have thought about how it could be addressed and are willing to have some skin in the game of fixing it.
4. Be clear on your ask
And finally, your ask. Your boss doesn’t have a lot of time. They aren’t really thinking about how you feel every day or whether they have told you everything you need to know .. not because they don’t care but because there is sooooo much else going on. So tell them what is going on for you and ask for what you need. So many times we expect people to read our minds or pick up on non verbal cues. That may well be nice, but it makes life much more complicated than it needs to be. Be clear on your ask. When you need time from your boss, tell them up front why. Do you need input? A decision? Just a chance to vent ? The more that you can be clear about what you need from them, the more likely you are to get it.
We do a lot of work between people at work to help establish productive relationships. The first place to start is to show you are willing. Try these tips and ask your boss for feedback on how that works for them.
For more help with building productive relationships at work contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here