How To Get Along With Your Boss

By Chris Kolmar
Oct. 18, 2022
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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Having a perfect relationship with your boss is the ideal working situation. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to get the perfect relationship with their boss.

While you may not have the perfect boss, you can have a positive, healthy relationship with your boss that integrates personal and professional growth. All it takes is for you to bring more nuance to your expectations and approach.

Whether your boss is right for you or not, you have a responsibility to handle your relationship with the utmost professionalism. It requires self accountability and persistence, which is not always easy, but if done correctly, the rewards are extremely valuable.

Key Takeaways:

  • Having a positive relationship with your boss helps increase productivity, improve job satisfaction, and leads to a healthier life.

  • Setting monthly meetings can help you and your boss go over your responsibilities and voice any concerns that you have to keep a positive working relationship.

  • If you still have issues with your boss, it’s important to talk to them and not to let it affect your work.

How To Get Along With Your Boss

Why Having a Good Relationship With Your Boss Is Important

A good relationship with your boss will lift you up to new heights, and a toxic relationship can bring you down to terrible depths. Therefore, for the sake of your own success, you must achieve the best relationship possible with your supervisor. Again, your relationship may not be perfect, but a good one can have multiplying effects on your job. For example, it can lead to:

  1. Increased productivity. You will find yourself motivated and able to focus on your work if you feel like your supervisor has their best interest in you. Likewise, with a problematic relationship, you will be distracted by its negative effects. In an environment where you feel like you are working together, you become more efficient with your time and energy.

  2. Job satisfaction. For similar reasons, a good relationship with your boss leads to more satisfaction in your job. You are able to see the reason behind tasks and the results of your efforts because your boss guides you along the process. At the end of every day, you know your boss has your back which gives you comfort and security.

  3. Career growth. Whatever happens in your future, you don’t want to burn any bridges if you don’t have to. Your boss should be a reference for future job applications, and if you really have a great relationship, they may even help you network.

  4. Healthy life. A terrible relationship with your boss will inadvertently rub off on your life, and your partners, friends or family may be its victims. The stress will also hurt your own health. With a good relationship with your boss, you can prevent any of this from happening.

How to Get Along With Your Boss

Regardless if you are new or a long time employee, there are always actions you can take to improve your relationship with your boss. In fact, do not take your current relationship with your boss for granted even if you think it’s going well. People change, so you need to make constant adjustments throughout your career.

To do so, always consider the following steps:

  1. Assess the situation. If you want to get along with your boss, you first need to take a look around and observe. Be objective and take note of your interactions with your boss. Know when and how they occur and in what context. Figure out the power structure of your workplace to better understand the dynamics of your relationship.

  2. Be self-aware. Consider what is going on with you internally and be honest in your self-assessment. Acknowledge and accept any feelings you have towards your boss and also towards yourself. This is a good opportunity to practice mindfulness. Figure out if you have done the best you can as an employee without too much judgement.

  3. Be empathetic. Use emotional intelligence to put yourself in your boss’s position. Leadership comes with unique responsibilities and stresses. Think about how you would react and remember that your boss has a whole life outside the workplace too. Their motivations and reasons behind their actions may not be as obvious as you think.

  4. Set boundaries. Setting boundaries with your boss can eliminate them over stepping and overworking you. This could be letting them know that you only answer phone calls or emails during work hours or that you won’t add any extra work that isn’t in your job description. Just make sure these are reasonable boundaries that won’t disrupt the entire work place.

  5. Consider personality types. You need to know whether or not you and your boss are simply different people. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, by simply knowing what type of personality you and your boss are, you already empower yourself to navigate the relationship in a more strategic manner.

  6. Have an open line of communication. Keep the line of communication open with your boss. This will help avoid any mistakes or miscommunication that could cause conflict. Let them know the best way to contact you and make sure you figure out what they like as well.

    Like personality types, people have different communication styles. You should do your best to align your communication style with that of your boss. For example, if your boss is the type of person who prefers short and direct emails, make sure to keep your message tight and to the point.

  7. Set monthly meetings. Periodically meet with your boss to go over your responsibilities. Make it a point to agree on what is expected of you. This will help you deal with any changes that may come in the future. More importantly, once you set your expectations, exceed them to show your value as an employee.

    At these monthly meetings, it will help you bring up any concerns that you have with any projects or tasks. This is also a great way for your boss to take some time to talk with you personally and get to know you, and you get to know them more.

  8. Align your goals with the company and your boss. For both short and long term projects, you should understand how they relate to the goals of the company. Most likely, these will also be your boss’s goals because they are responsible for the outcome of their team. These goals come with values, so connect their values to your own.

  9. Respect the chain of command. Going over your boss’s head is a surefire way to embarrass and upset them. Even if you have legitimate reasons to talk to your boss’s superiors, make sure to keep your boss in the loop. Attach or forward your boss to relevant emails. Circle back on any outside meetings you have.

  10. Ask for feedback. When you encounter a difficult situation, if you ask your boss for feedback, you create a united rather than combative approach. This, in turn, shows respect for your boss, who will have a higher opinion of you as a result. Also, this gives your boss a chance to clarify and understand your role within the organization.

  11. Reframe challenges as opportunities and keep a positive mindset. Not all problems with your boss have to be considered toxic. When you face a challenge, see it as an opportunity for you to grow and be positive in your attempt.

    Even if you still face challenges, you can assure yourself that you have done your best to remain professional.

  12. Connect on a personal level. Get to know your boss and give your boss a chance to know you. Be respectful of professional boundaries, but don’t let them box you in either. Remember, you are dealing with a person, and by acknowledging that fact, you both can learn to work together in more personable ways.

  13. Don’t hold grudges. There will come a time when you don’t agree with your boss, and that’s okay. They may make a decision that you disagree on but it’s important to remember it’s not personal and they are just trying to be a boss. Just don’t hold onto this disagreement for a long time. It will only cause issues for you in the long run.

What to Do if You Still Have Problems

All told, even if you work through these tips to improve your relationship with your boss, it is not guaranteed they will work. Sometimes you may actually have a legitimate problem that you cannot solve on your own. However, you must make sure you have done everything in your power before you seek other options.

It is your responsibility to be an accountable, reliable and professional employee. If you can say with complete honesty that you have taken all possible steps to get along with your boss and still face issues, then it is time to look for help.

If you come to this crossroad, then consider to:

  1. Seek objective feedback. If your relationship with your boss is really bad, it will help if you work with a counselor or therapist trained in helping with professional relationships. Their outside objectivity will allow you to freely vent your problems while still providing rational analysis of your issue.

  2. Identify triggers. Try to identify what triggers your boss and makes them upset. Avoid those triggers as much as possible. This will help keep yourself under the radar and keep the workplace peaceful.

  3. Talk with other co-workers. Try talking to a trusted co-worker about the situation and get their opinion on it. They might be able to tell you how to solve the situation without anything drastic happening. They might also tell you about their relationship with the boss and see how it differs.

  4. Contact management or HR. You should have first done everything you can to work with your boss, but if you do not see progress, then take it up with other management or human resources members. Understand that this will cross a line, and your boss is likely to find out. Stay professional and do your best to seek a common solution.

  5. Don’t let it affect your work. If you aren’t getting along with your boss, don’t let it affect how you do your job. It may be difficult, but keep trying to a good job and stay in good terms with other leaders at the company.

  6. Look for a new position. If nothing else works and you can say that you have given plenty of time and effort to seek change, you should consider a new position. This could either be a transfer within the organization or a new job entirely. In either case, do not be rash with this decision as it will reflect poorly on you.

Final Thoughts

You need to realize that you are accountable for yourself. You can only control the actions you make. When it comes to building up a relationship with your boss, you have it within your power to help.

A difficult relationship with your boss does not have to be permanent, nor does it mean your boss is a bad person.

Give yourself plenty of time and effort to learn more about your boss and about yourself. From there, you can begin to bridge a connection. For most professional relationships, this is possible because, in the end, you and your boss want the same thing; success.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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