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Build a Great Working Relationship with Your Boss

Build a Great Working Relationship with Your Boss

One of the worst things you can do when you start your new job is to make your supervisor look bad for hiring you. After all, your boss is key to your current on-the-job satisfaction and to your future success in the organization -- and perhaps even beyond.

If there ever were a relationship for you to invest in, this is it. So here are five ways to get off to a great start with your new supervisor. Your efforts now will lay the groundwork for a productive working relationship over the long haul.

Watch Your New Boss and Learn

"The No. 1 thing is to observe the company culture and your supervisor closely during your first few weeks," says Terese Corey Blanck, principal of College to Career, a career-consulting firm in suburban Minneapolis. "Keep your opinions to yourself until you understand the company culture well and know what people will look upon with favor and what they'll look upon with disdain."

Even something as simple as asking intelligent questions will make a difference in how your boss perceives you as an employee. "It's always better to clarify than to charge off and go completely in the wrong direction," Corey Blanck says.

Communicate the Way the Boss Wants To

Some bosses are very hands-on, keeping close tabs on you throughout your workday. Others may talk to you once a week or less often and send you on your way to do your job.

Whatever your supervisor's style, typically it's up to you to establish and maintain the lines of communication between the two of you. Using either email or the occasional stop-by-the-office visit, make sure you keep your boss informed with the answers to these questions:

  • What are you working on?
  • What have you finished, and what are the results?
  • What can you help your supervisor with?

Look and Act Professional

Allison Hemming, author of Work It! How to Get Ahead, Save Your Ass, and Land a Job in Any Economy and founder of The Hired Guns, a Manhattan-based interim workforce agency, talks about a candidate she recently placed with a major investment bank -- quite easily, thanks to the candidate's background and skills.

"Two weeks into the job, we got a call from her manager, saying that she was doing a terrific job, but that she sometimes dressed inappropriately, in short, short skirts and open-toed shoes," says Hemming. "The manager asked me to have a chat with the person, because they really liked her and didn't want her attire to impact her ability to get promoted in the future."

The new hire was a bit shocked to discover her fashion faux pas were damaging her relationships with her supervisor and colleagues, but she quickly made the necessary changes to her wardrobe, Hemming says.

Demonstrate Initiative

Any new employee can sit around waiting to be told what to do. Why not be proactive enough to figure it out yourself so your supervisor doesn't constantly have to hold your hand?

"Take initiative to get something done when you see it needs getting done," says Corey Blanck. "It can be something as simple as taking a stack of files and going through them before you're asked -- anything to show that you're not beneath the small tasks that take up everyone's time."

"Come in early and stay late," says Stephen Viscusi, author of On the Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work and a frequent workplace contributor on ABC's "Good Morning America." "You should be busy whenever you're starting a new job, learning the ropes, but even when you're not, perfect the art of looking busy."

Do Great Work

This might seem like painfully obvious advice for developing a solid relationship with your new boss, but it bears repeating. "Make your boss look good by, guess what -- just plain working hard," says Viscusi. "It's old-fashioned, but it really works."

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