Bosses are People Too

Sometimes it’s easy to forget managers and supervisors have flesh, blood and corpuscles like everyone else. 

Yes, bosses are people, too. Let that thought marinate.


Too often the men and women with a finger on your career trajectory are viewed as heartless monsters, alien busybodies or something else equally inhumane.

It’s a known fact that bad bosses run off employees. A Gallup report in 2015 found half of employees quit because of bad bosses. The survey of 7,200 adults found that about half had left a job at some point “to get away from their manager.”

But what if you already see your boss as a fully functioning human, one with strengths and weaknesses just like you? That’s the first step in bonding with the person who can make or break your career.

Here are 15 tips to improve your relationship with the person who signs off on your paycheck:

1. Cultivate a relationship

It's not uncommon for managers to feel disconnected from their staff. Many employees are unsure if it is wise to get to know their bosses on a more personal level. But it's OK, once in a while, to show interest in a manager’s hobbies, family or the latest movie or popular TV shows once. Finding a way to connect beyond the workplace is not akin to brown-nosing.

2. Learn your boss’s style

If mornings are the best time for asking questions, don’t wait until the end of the day. Learn his or her preferred way to communicate. Some bosses want updates by email while others prefer face-to-face conversations. Is your boss a micromanager or hands-off?

3. Meet expectations

The increasing responsibilities being shifted your way can be a sign that you are being groomed for a promotion. Job growth requires struggle and sacrifice. The right boss wants you to grow professionally.

4. Express gratitude

Everyone wants to be told when a job is well done. Your manager is no different, especially if his or her insight, decision or guidance benefitted you. Be generous with the kudos.

5. Avoid surprises

If you make a mistake, own it. Take the lead in providing a solution.  Communication is key. Always provide a heads up if a plan, project or something else you are responsible for goes awry.  You never want your boss blindsided. It’s better for you to communicate the bad news than someone else.

6. Offer solutions and recommendations

When a problem arises, be proactive. If you have to talk to your boss about an issue, you can share how you are already addressing it. Be the can-do person in a pinch.

7. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your boss (and make sure yours are understood as well)

You bring value when you can provide support in areas your boss is not a strong performer. On the other hand, learn from his or her strengths.

8. Cooperate

Avoid complaining about your coworkers. No boss wants to hear constant whining.

9. Know the goals of your boss

Your job is to support your manager so be clear-eyed about his or her goals, priorities and deliverables, if you are unsure, try asking.

10. Keep your word

Be accountable for your actions. Managers have a tough job. Make it easier by doing what you say you will do.

11. Protect one-on-one time

Avoid asking your boss questions that can be answered by a colleague. Limit interactions up close or in his or her office to substantive work-related discussions.

12. Understand the vision

You are more likely to ensure that your daily work is on the right track when you are clear about the long–term vision of the company.

13. Make an extra effort

It’s tempting to run out the door at 5 PM, especially if you are not getting paid for the extra hours. But sometimes it’s necessary to stay later to ensure your work is on track. Your extra effort won’t go unnoticed.

14. Bring ideas

Flex your intellectual muscles and come up with possible ways to improve your workspace, department or even the company.

15. Meet deadlines. Better yet, try beating them occasionally

Remember bosses have work and life balance issues, too. Once in a while, some days may be better than others.  Give your boss what you want: a break when personal problems interfere with performing well. Bosses are people, too, and sometimes they need you to cut them some slack.

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