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The Boss Relationship

Updated: Apr 4

by Stephanie Bickel

leadership communication skills

McKinsey published a report titled, "Work and well-being: A global perspective". In their research, 25% of respondents cited job satisfaction as the top driver of life satisfaction. Almost all of our clients would cite that as their number one. The more ambitious you are, the more that becomes the source of happiness. So what drives job satisfaction? Most people would answer publicly that it is the impact they have on the business, their clients, and team members. McKinsey's research showed that interpersonal relationships were more important than having an interesting job. If you do not like the people at work, mental health suffers. Especially if that person you do not like is your boss.

This month, we are focusing on the Boss Relationship. Only you can control what you think about your boss. If you are inside your head complaining about your boss or blaming your boss, that is going to affect your communication with your boss. Burnout is on the rise.

It is great when bosses are highly organized and provide the bigger picture, guidance, tools, encouragement, freedom, meaningful projects, and a psychological sense of safety. Yet, it is harder for them to be all of that in this new normal. On top of that, we cannot control their actions. We can control our own.

So, toughen up. We are going to put more on YOUR PLATE.

  1. Extend more trust and faith to your boss. Be more open on topics and listen closer.

  2. Display a higher degree of confidence than you have before. Be louder. Sit taller. Remove all hesitant and hedging language.

  3. Work on your team's goals and present realistic, attainable goals the team could go after. Make it clear that you will own a big piece of this. You present the bigger picture you wish your boss would! Let your boss take that list of goals and make it their own.

  4. Escalate issues in a way that makes them love you even more. Here is the problem, and here are the options for solving it. I recommend option #2.

  5. Speak more customer-centric or client-centric. Make it clear that you always have the end user in mind.

  6. Show a detailed list of exactly what you are working on in the order you are prioritizing them. Maintain this weekly and be ready to share in all of your meetings with your boss.

  7. Give feedback to your boss in a way they have never heard before.


      1. "I am watching you. When we were in that meeting and Susan said X. You reacted swiftly and corrected her. She immediately came around to your view. I am going to do that more, too."


      1. "They are very excited about our plans. Could you see how Ron kept nodding through the process section? This would be a great time to call him and ask him if he wants to lead a section of the next meeting. He clearly is a champion of this idea and would endorse your plan."

  8. Recognize that part of your job is coaching your boss into the boss you want him/her to be. We know the self fulfilling prophecy works. What you believe about yourself, you will become. Help your boss believe that he/she is the boss you have dreamed them to be. Role model the behaviors you want your boss to have. Raise the bar if your boss isn't.

  9. Regularly give your boss encouragement. Help them see the progress happening. Help them celebrate the week's achievements. Suggest ideas for ways they could inspire and encourage the team. Maybe you start team contests, lunches, a learning series, or have events where they can bring family members and pets to improve the fun factor.

  10. Give more transparency on your work and non-work life. Share your opportunities and problems both personally and professionally. In healthy relationships, this will bring you closer. If you are worried it will be used against you, work on controlling your thoughts about your boss first. On projects, give unsolicited updates.

The more satisfied we are at work, the more profitable our company will be. The happier your company is, the more loyal your customers are. It is proven over and over again to be true.


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