Employee Checklist: Improving your Relationship with your Boss

Building a strong relationship with your boss can be challenging, even in normal times. Add in a pandemic and remote work, and it becomes even harder! So what can you do to strengthen ties to your manager, from afar? Our step-by-step guide covers the best ways to form a strong relationship.

  1. Clarify your responsibilities

    Start off on the right foot by ensuring that you and your manager are aligned on role expectations. Been in your current role for a while? It’s still a great idea to ask this question, as priorities and needs may have changed at your company.

  2. Learn what’s important to your boss

    Similarly, it’s never too late to ask about your manager’s priorities as well. Is their goal to grow market share in Europe? Build strong relationships with cross-functional teams? Whatever their key objectives, this knowledge will help you better tackle your work, as well as communicate meaningfully with your boss.

  3. Know their communication preferences

    Is your boss a Slack person or an email person? Or maybe they love jumping on a quick call to iron out a thorny issue. Knowing your boss’s preferred communication channels – and when they like to use them – removes major pain points in a relationship.

  4. Schedule weekly 1:1s

    Regardless of your boss’s communication preferences, talking live once a week is hugely beneficial. Not only can you align on key priorities and important project updates, but you can also learn more about your boss. This is especially helpful if you’re working remotely. For instance, you may learn that your boss is stressed about moving to a new house — so you can save some conversations for the following week instead!
    Tip: Get comfortable driving the agenda for your 1:1s! They’re a time for you to have valuable, productive discussions with your manager, so feel free to add topics that are top-of-mind for you.

  5. Be proactive about feedback

    Ask for feedback during key project milestones, or at the end of projects. This helps in a couple different ways: 1) It helps you grow and improve in your role, and 2) It shows that you value your manager’s perspective. Many people also love giving advice and nurturing proteges — a win-win for both of you.

  6. Schedule a casual sync

    Get to know your manager better with a virtual coffee chat. It’s a great opportunity to learn about their hobbies, interests, and what’s been top of mind for them recently. A casual conversation also indicates that you’re personable and can talk about things outside of work too!

  7. Assume positive intent

    If you’re currently experiencing some frustration with your boss, try to stay positive and focus on the good things. Maybe your boss is very responsive, or allows you to have a flexible work schedule. Feeling gratitude instead of frustration will help you find inner calm and maintain a positive relationship with your boss.

  8. Stay true to yourself

    Regardless of the strategies that you use to build a relationship with your manager, remember to be yourself. If a particular action or communication doesn’t feel authentic to you, see if there’s another way to accomplish your objective. For instance, if sending flowers on Boss’s Day seems like overkill, send a quick thank-you on Slack or email instead.