How to have a great relationship with your boss

Did you know today is officially World Boss’s Day? Yep – there’s an entire day dedicated to the hardworking, badass bosses of this world.

If you’re lucky enough to have a boss that you look up to and get along with, today is the perfect time to thank them for being kind, thoughtful and fair throughout the working year. If you’re still working on building your relationship with your boss, today is also a great time to start nurturing a budding friendship.

But where do you start? And how can you become friends with your boss without worrying about crossing a line?

For the best advice this side of the office, I turned to my former boss extraordinaire and all-round inspiring lady – Daye Moffitt, Executive Strategy Director at Sydney branding agency, Landor.

Not all bosses are made the same – but is there a general starting point for those of us who want to improve or create better relationships with our bosses?

“I’m a big believer in empathy. If I’ve learned anything in my career it’s that your boss is working harder than you ever care to realise. It’s tough at the top and it’s only getting tougher. If you want to improve your relationship, it’s key to first empathise with the pressures they’re under. Also, you should truly know that nine times out of 10, they only have your best interests at heart. That’s a pretty good foundation to build a relationship from.”

What should we do if the attempt to connect or improve the relationship backfires? How can we walk away with your dignity intact?

“Not all bosses are created equal (remembering that they’re only human and bad humans definitely exist). Any decent person should appreciate someone’s attempt to create a connection. If you’ve tried and failed and your boss has been difficult about it, that’s on them. It’s their problem. Keep that in mind and your dignity should remain perfectly intact.”

As a boss, have you actively made an effort to nurture and grow good relationships with your staff, or do you prefer to leave the ball in their court?

“I believe when it comes to getting the best out of people – nurturing a strong, mutually respectful and genuine relationship isn’t just important, it’s everything. I can only work with people I believe in. So, building a relationship comes easily for me. But it does take time, resilience and emotional investment. But when you see the people you’ve invested in shine, it is oh-so worth it. Nothing feels better.”

Is it hard to find the balance between a friendly working relationship yet maintain a sense of authority with staff when you’re their boss?

“I guess, but I try not to worry about it too much. In my experience, my best people – those I have a friendly relationship with – have never questioned my authority. And I’ve never needed to use it. We have an unspoken respect for each other.”

Do you have a ‘boss’ motto you live by?

“I don’t, but I believe in business it’s important to be kind. If I’m honest with myself right now, I could be more kind. But it’s something I always strive towards.”

When it comes to connecting with a boss on a personal and professional level, is it important to not overstep certain barriers?

“As someone who constantly stomps all over barriers, I don’t think so. I mean, we all know where a line is that should not be crossed. I think if you apply emotional intelligence to situations you should be okay.”

How can we make sure we’re connecting appropriately with our bosses and not looking like we’re trying too hard?

“It’s simple. Be authentic, be real and be honest – always.”

A lot of people think praise is the best way to cultivate a relationship with their boss – is this the wrong way to go about nurturing a friendship with a superior at work? 

“Totally. Showing genuine appreciation is good, but don’t forget – there’s a reason your boss is your boss… They’re no idiot. They know bullsh*t when they hear it.”

Are there any ‘boss’ lessons you’ve taken from your favourite boss over the years? 

“My best bosses have become lifelong friends. There are too many lessons to list. But they taught me everything that has made me who I am today.”

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