Updated 3/8/3030

You don’t get to pick your parents, family or even your boss.

You cannot completely control how those relationships grow and develop.  A lot depends upon how much you have invested in these relationships or want to invest in yourself and the value in your life.

With your work, there is usually a monetary value that is important to you.  Whether it is the money itself or what the paycheck will do for you, your dreams, and/or your family – the money matters. 

Well, who controls the access to that money?  

Who signs that approval for the money you receive for the work you contribute to the business and its customers? 

Whether it is a physical signature on a timecard or an electronic approval to an online timesheet of hours worked – you need that relationship with your manager to work. Sometimes, it can be a difficult working relationship, and one that you wish would improve – quickly.

One of the keys to a positive and productive work environment is to have a good boss-employee relationship. This relationship is built from foundations that start with good communication in the workplace.  One method is to change how you work with and communicate with your boss.

Effective communication with your boss can help establish a working partnership and build trust between managers and employees.

Why?  If you can’t communicate effectively, you will find it difficult to perform your assigned work duties and become productive.  There are ways to change your approach with your boss and improve the working relationship.  Some tips include:

Change your mindset

Don’t view it as a difficult conversation but as an opportunity to have an open discussion and to learn. Assess your boss’s intention. You may feel belittled or intimidated but be cautious about assuming that this is your boss’ intention.

We cannot change others, but we can adapt our response to others – if we see value in that change.

Focus on skills

Strong people have far more weaknesses that they have strengths. Figure out where your boss excels and tap into those skills when they are most useful. Ask your manager for tips about the skills that you admire.

Ask for suggestions on how to improve your skills in that preferred area.  Tie that skill to the team’s success or the best interest of the customers. 

Example:  If your manager is good at details – Ask what is the specific or preferred method or tool that is being used to keep track of all those details? If there isn’t a tool, research, and suggest one. Add value.

Assess your boss’ preferences

Understand your boss’ preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. How do they like to work? Are you in a “meeting” culture?   Is your manager long-winded?  Prefer short “hallway” meetings?

What are their preferred ways of communication? How do they like to receive information?

Your boss may prefer conversation via text, email or in person. Adapt to the preferred method to promote effective communication. Whatever method you select, try to practice using concise, clear, and direct language.  Prepare your communication in advance.  Compare the results that you get when you use one method or another.  Then use the most effective method.

Be a good listener

Your communication ability depends on your listening skills.  Ask questions. Focus on what your boss is saying. Avoid preparing your response while your manager is speaking – listen actively, and then respond.

Create a rapport

Establish your relationship with your boss. Invite your manager to lunch and preplan two to three topics for discussion.  If lunch is out of your comfort zone, try meeting for a coffee break, an early breakfast, or an afternoon walk.   Discuss common interests or current events.

Give your support

Figure out what your boss needs to exceed his expectations. Prove that you’re trustworthy and can do your job better with good, consistent communication.   In today’s global workplace, productivity cannot guarantee a raise or even a lengthy career – but it can certainly improve your day-to-day work life – whether you stay at that position, career or use it to move on to the next opportunity.

Change Tip:    Select one of the above ideas and actively test for thirty days.  Measure the results.   Then next month, add another tip.  Repeat.  Evaluate your working relationship, and adjust where needed.  Drop what isn’t working, and focus on the activities that are successful.

Positive, civil working relationships with your boss and peers can’t hurt and develop those strategies that will serve you well during this job and the next.


More than anything else, we spend more hours on our jobs than we do with our family and friends. 

Our workplaces are changing rapidly. 

I hope that this provides some insights that have been helpful and inspiring to you.  If you like this, please share it!

Michel Hobson is one of the most sought-after workplace training leaders in the region. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans multiple countries and hundreds of companies. | HobsonTraining.com

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