How to Manage Your Relationship with Your Boss

Your job is not just managing your brand; it’s managing your relationship with your boss. Figure out what makes him or her tick, how he or she likes to work and what you can do to make his or her life easier. You can be a top performer, but if you have a contentious relationship with your boss, you’re not going to get the support and credit you need to succeed.

“Your work will not speak for itself” is the first bit of career advice I give in my talks. I always say that the two biggest myths about life and career success are, “My work speaks for itself,” and “Good performance is enough to move ahead.” Your work will not speak for itself. Your boss will speak for it and for you. It’s up to you to make sure what he or she says is flattering.

While you need to be an outstanding performer, you need to do other things well if you want to create the career success you deserve. Building strong, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life is an important key to success. Your boss is the most important person with whom you need to build a strong relationship.

I devote 20 tweets in Success Tweets to relationship building. Here are a few of them, with techniques you can use to build and maintain a positive relationship with your boss:

Tweet 121—Get genuinely interested in others. Help bring out the best in everyone you know. Get to know your boss, his or her strengths and weaknesses. Do your best to make your boss look good.

Tweet 122—Keep confidences and avoid gossip. Don’t embarrass others by repeating what they share with you—even if it isn’t in confidence. Treat anything your boss tells you —especially about his or her personal life—as confidential.

Tweet 123—Use every interaction to build and strengthen relationships. Make sure that every interaction you have with your boss is positive and strengthens your relationship. I’m not suggesting you become a suck-up. I am suggesting that you do your best to maintain a cordial relationship and focus on helping your boss meet his or her goals and solve his or her work-related problems.

Tweet 124—Everyone has something to offer. Never dismiss anyone out of hand. Sometimes bosses come up with some pretty off the wall ideas. Don’t dismiss them out of hand. Listen, and offer your opinions in a respectful manner.

Tweet 125—Get to know yourself. Use your self-knowledge to better understand others and build mutually beneficial relationships with them. Adapt your style to your boss; don’t expect him or her to adapt his or her style to you.

Tweet 133—Resolve conflict positively. Treat conflict as an opportunity to strengthen, not destroy, the relationships you’ve worked hard to build. No matter how good your relationships with your boss, conflict is inevitable. Use these moments to demonstrate your trust and good will. Focus on finding a mutually agreeable resolution to your differences.

Tweet 138—We all make mistakes. Own up to yours. You’ll become known as a straight shooter, honest with yourself and others.

Tweet 139—Deliver on what you say you’ll do. If you can’t meet a commitment, let your boss know right away. This may be the most important piece of career advice in this column. Bosses hate to be surprised—especially in a negative way.

Building a strong relationship with your boss is a solid career success move. When you have a good relationship with your boss, he or she will sing your praises and help you get the attention and promotions you want and deserve.


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