Building relationships is vital in business. When you are employed and have a boss it’s even more critical, because you have an incentive to get the best from your boss – and the onus is on you.
For bosses, try on this as a set of expectations your people have from you.
You are limited in how much control you can have in the employed world. Much is passed down to you and this can feel frustrating because you feel ‘done to’; without any input in how your experience, day-by-day, goes for you.
It can drive you crazy (and in fact is one of the biggest causes of absence and employee churn, by the way!)
So, it’s time to take some control – here are a few ways that work well.
1. Make the Effort to Communicate
By having an easy dialogue with your boss, you will make it easier all round, when tough talking needs to happen.
In fact, if you have the relationship, none of the discussions need be tough at all. Light requests come when you’ve made the effort up front to get on well. This means appreciating every opportunity to talk – and about anything with your boss.
2. Appreciate Them
It’s a lonely world at the top. Sure, the tangible compensations look great! And that’s not all we need as human beings. Social animals that we are, we need to feel loved a little.
So it’s time for YOU to take the lead in sharing the positives you’ve gotten from your boss; how they have helped you in your work, makes THEM feel good. And when it’s you making them feel good, they will appreciate you – which strengthens the relationship more.
3. Share Successes
Whilst we believe that praise is always best accepted (none of this, oh, ‘it’s nothing’ – just go with it!), remember that a good boss will facilitate success and achievement, yet often step back from the glory (hmmm, well, some will!).
If you are able to acknowledge their involvement and support, they will be able to be a stronger part of the team, want to do more for the greater good and learn to give praise back!
4. Encourage Team Building
Being a good team player, helps a boss with a critical part of their role. Good bosses are only good because of the quality of the team they develop.
Your working with and in the team, facilitating development and growth, makes it work for the benefit of the business or organisation – and that is a big plus for your boss.
5. Becoming a Solution Providing, Problem-Free Zone
Your boss will be besieged with problems. Time to take a different tack! By having ideas of how to solve problems and sharing those with them, rather than being a constant whiner, will buck the trend, as well as showing an example to others.
You enable an evolving ‘problem-free’ zone in the team, your ideas are an advert for what you can contribute above and beyond the norm – you will be ‘noticed’ positively.
6. Ask for Their Advice
When you need some suggestions about how to move forward, you can still ask for help. ‘I need your help’ is a great way to get it! An emotional plea that buys them into YOU.
It makes a difference to feel wanted. And your boss, just like you, needs to have that sense of being valued. So be prepared to bite the bullet and ask, constructively and positively and then follow through with action.
7. Listen When They Need You
Sometimes your boss will get it wrong – and be horrified. At times like this, it works well to treat them as who they might not always appear to be – a regular human being.
Helping them through difficulties forms a great bond. No need to be grovelling about it, just positively supportive and on their side. Maybe no-one else will (though you might be the model others follow).
8. Say No Sometimes – Sort Of!
Time will come where your boss tests you out, wanting ‘rush-jobs’ done. Now this is usually down to poor ‘boundary’ setting, which is another article in itself. So you need to say ‘no’ when you can’t. Even better is to say ‘yes’ and on your terms.
A piece of work impinging on what’s important to you, needs negotiation around the ‘when’. This is better solution as it helps develop understanding of what needs to happen for the crisis issue to take priority – and sets a marker for how you will handle such matters in future. And starts their ‘training’! You can start this right away.
9. Be Demanding About You (a bit!)
Employees need to know how they are doing. It’s a bit of a challenging world out there and if no-one tells you how you are doing you need to find out. Sometimes a boss is really good at this.
Usually they aren’t. Their head is full of all sorts of tactical stuff they need to do – and they forget about their people. Often this is because no-one has ever modelled what good looks like and the real priorities in business. People.
So by asking how they think you are doing – what they appreciate about you and what you might do differently, they will come along and get better at it with everyone!
10. Have Patience
Behavioural change doesn’t happen all at once and it can go wrong! If you take your time – keep subtle and keep appreciative of them, without the coffee-machine slagging off they usually get, you will make gradual and steady progress.
Managers need this – trust me – some of us have been on the receiving end, very gently, and it does work.
When you are playing with the fire of managing upwards, it a bit like a male scorpion trying to mate, with a big chance he’ll get eaten. Yet it is so vital!
© 2005-6 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com