Posted by Robert Half on 12 February 2015
Deep down, we all want to be loved. Whether this affection comes from your partner, family, manager or work colleagues, it's much more preferable to being disliked, or having people feel indifferent about you. Nobody wants to experience conflict in their personal or professional life, or come across people who care little for them either way.
But while family love is often unconditional, as a birth-right, the same cannot be said about working relationships in the workplace. If you don't work hard, treat people well and make a positive contribution to the organisation, you will quickly find yourself out of favour with your colleagues and boss. What use are idle, disruptive and disinterested employees to their managers?
In the interest of your career, you want to form a healthy working relationship with your superiors, including your immediate boss and other senior professionals. You certainly won't get very far by pushing them away. At any time, you might need their assistance, approval or support, and they're much more likely to help you out if you've earned their 'love' and respect.
If you strive to be a good worker, it shouldn't be difficult to get your employer on-side. Here are 14 easy steps to improve your working relationship with your:
1. Do the basics
First of all, you've got to get the basics right. Perform tasks the way you've been instructed, following the guidance you've been given - at least until you have mastered them and understand your manager’s leadership style. Only then should you start thinking about ways of changing processes to make them more effective.
2. Deliver results
Business is a results game, so if you're a productive employee who exceeds their targets and produces work of a consistently high quality, you'll always be in favour with your boss. Your individual and collective achievements reflect well on them.
3. Know your place
When speaking to your boss, always respect their seniority. You might not agree with every decision they make, but you can't publicly undermine their authority. If you have a grievance, air it in private rather than in front of your colleagues.
4. Keep your promises
If you say you're going to do something, then do it. Avoid making unrealistic commitments that you have to renege on at a later date. You should never say you can do something if you know you won't be able to - it's much better to be honest from the outset.
5. Engage with training
Being an eager, willing learner will make you popular with your boss. If they can teach you new skills and techniques, passing on knowledge to someone who wants to learn, this makes their job all the easier. It equips you to be more productive in the future.
6. Think independently
Performing simple tasks autonomously, without requiring constant direction from your boss, can help reduce their own workload. Most team leaders don't have the time or energy to micro-manage their employees, so if you know exactly what you should be doing, just get on with it.
7. Be a personality
If you're a friendly, engaging colleague, who plays an active role in the social life of the office, then all the better. Employers love team members who make others feel welcome and involved, especially new recruits who have just joined the organisation and don't know anybody.
8. Transfer knowledge
If you've got knowledge, skills and/or expertise in a particular area, and are willing to spend time helping your colleagues improve their understanding, you can add significant value to your team.
9. Assist new recruits
New joiners often take some time to get up and running, as they learn how the organisation functions and what their role entails. Your boss will appreciate it if you make yourself available to help out, offer guidance, and provide reassurance where necessary to the recent recruit.
10. Display loyalty
Employers know they cannot build high-performing teams if their staff are leaving all the time. Staff attrition can be a killer for team productivity. As such, manager’s value people who are loyal to the organisation - these are the employees they can build for the future around.
11. Be flexible
The more flexible you can be as a professional the better. This applies in terms of shift patterns, office hours, travel and location of work, but also in terms of the duties you hold and responsibilities you accept in the office.
12. Go the extra mile
Employers want people who are prepared to go beyond their job description. Are you willing to accept new challenges, and do what is necessary to deliver the best possible team result? Will you arrive at work early, stay late and work weekends at peak times, if necessary? Do you step in to help struggling colleagues, by taking on some of their workload? And are you prepared to provide cover when your colleagues take annual leave, or go off sick?
13. Invest in your own development
Professionals who work hard and invest in their own career development will always be popular with employers. Ambitious individuals, who are eager to get on and make the most of their skills, are often the most productive and high-performing. And remember, managers have a responsibility to train their team members and ensure they are developing. Individuals who simply turn up for work and stagnate, with no regard for the future, make life more difficult for senior staff.
14. Air your career concerns
If you're thinking about applying for a new job, your manager will want to speak to you about it. Obviously they don't want to lose a valued worker, and will be eager to ensure you're considered all the options available to you. Your boss doesn't want to receive your notice to leave out of the blue, without first discussing promotion opportunities, the potential for higher pay and other scope for internal development.
Why develop a strong working relationship
First and foremost, if you're popular with your boss, your day-to-day enjoyment of work and job satisfaction is likely to be higher. You won't be worried about conflict situations arising, and you know you'll be involved with everything that's going on in the office. If exciting new projects and initiatives come along, there's a good chance you'll be in the mix.
But developing a working relationship with your boss also makes sense from a career development perspective. If you're looking to improve your relationship or further your career, having a great employee-manager relationship will help. Whether you're looking to advance your career internally or externally, they may be able to lend assistance.
And from a purely practical point of view, you never know when you might come across the same people again. Years down the line, you may want to apply for a new job working under your old boss. You might even join the same organisation they work for without realising it. If they hold you in high regard, you're already in-credit in your new role. But if your relationship was strained in the past, you've got an immediate problem.