Five tips for improving the relationship with your manager

Did you know that there is a National Hug Your Boss Day every year?  Launched a few years ago, the day aims to promote good working relationships and the importance of getting along with your boss or manager. Now, we’re not adverse to a little hug ourselves at Footprint, however, we’re sure there’s a lot of people out there who might look on this in horror or scorn.   What’s the reason for that?  Well, some of us may see it as ‘tree-hugging, fluffy stuff’  while others may benefit from considering ‘How good is my relationship with my boss?’

There are some significant messages underpinning this initiative/day. According to the National Hug Your Boss website this quiz may help to determine if you have a good or poor relationship:

  • Does your boss trust you?

  • Do you trust your boss?

  • Do you work well with your boss? Are you productive?

  • Do you know where you stand with your boss?

  • Do you work towards the same goals?

  • Can you speak to your boss openly about problems you have at work?

  • Can you tell your boss a joke or funny story?

  • Do you feel like you are both on the same side?

 
The more ‘yes’s’ the more likely you are able to give your manager a hug. If you answered some statements with a no then read on!

How To Improve The Relationship With Your Boss

We promised these earlier, so here are the 5 tips to strengthen your relationship (if they work, we have them copyrighted, if they don’t you didn’t get them from us!) You might be asking yourself the question ‘why should I be the one to make the first move to improve the relationship?’ In a high performing team people take a genuine interest in the people in their team , whether that is a manager or team member. So your manager should be finding out about you and what works for you just as you should be finding out about them.  But if that’s not happening, one of you needs to make the first move!

As Henry Ford said ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got’.  Try some of these:

  1. In the words of Steven Covey ‘seek first to understand before being understood’. Understand what motives them at work – understand how that differs to you and where the common ground may be;

  2. Provide them with feedback for what they’re doing well and what needs to be done differently – feedback should be a two way street (we have a great structure for this if you’re interested);

  3. Think about the positives – we can often focus on the negative side of what they are doing (isn’t that true for many aspects of our lives?)

  4. Encourage your manager to engage in conversation – don’t simply accept a task because you’re told to but understand the request and what they’re looking for;

  5. Understand their preferred communication style – do they prefer ‘big picture’ or every last detail.  At the same time, ensure you share with them what you are looking for in reverse.


If you want to know about how we help teams become high performing then contact us. Also, keep an eye on our website as we are always adding new tips people can use. A few first steps may mean that the relationship develops enough that you are able to share more about you and how you like to work.  And by next year you might be able to hug your manager!

  • In the word's of Covey 'seek first to understand before being understood'. Managers are human beings too; they all have things that they consider to be important. Things that make them happy, things that annoy them and make them angry. Getting to know what motivates your boss and what they value, gives you the insight and the understanding you need to better manage the relationship

  • If you are not happy with an aspect of your manager's performance, then give him some feedback about this. Be factual, describing what he did/didn't do (saying something like 'you are grumpy in the office' just isn't going to cut it!), what the impact is on you (or even the team) and what you'd want them to do differently in the future. Remember, sometimes we are unaware of our own behaviour and the impact of this on others and your manager is no different. Don't forget to encourage feedback for yourself if you are not already receiving any

  • Look for and focus on the positive parts of your manager; just about every manager has both good points and bad. When you're negative about your manager, the tendency is to focus on his worst characteristics and failings. This isn't good for your happiness at work. Take the opportunity to give positive feedback on what your manager does well, using the same principles as above. Just as developmental feedback shouldn't just be delivered 'top down', this is the same case with positive feedback and celebrating success

  • Ask questions! For you to do your work well you need to know key pieces of information about the tasks you are being asked to work on including: "What's the importance of this?", "What does success look like?","When is it due?" If your manager just tells you to "do it!", acknowledge the seriousness and that you will get on it asap, but then ask a couple of probing questions to help you unpick what "doing it" actually means. This will ensure you have the right information to do a good job and will help your boss to develop trust in you

  • Learn your manager's communication style and flex your style to his. How does your manager prefer to interact? Do they want weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly updates? Do they prefer written reports with lots of details or brief summaries with only highlights? Does he want to meet in person or receive email updates and then follow-up with you on any questions they might have? Adapt your communication style to best fit your manager's.

You might be asking yourself the question 'why should I be the one to make the first move to improving the relationship with my manager?' But as Henry Ford said 'if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got'. Taking a few first steps may mean that by next year you'll be able to hug your manager!

...call in for a cuppaIf you would like any more information on any of these areas or in general please visit our the FAQ page or Contact us

We're happy to get together over a cuppa and a Florentine.