The Most Important Relationship @ Work

So what is the one relationship at work that can really make or break our careers? No matter how great we are in our work – how well we execute – and how talented we are – if this one relationship is not nurtured and developed our growth in the company will be limited and opportunities to excel and grow may not come our way.

The most important relationship

Drum roll please …. is the one we have with our boss, leader, manager, supervisor, call him or her what you will – but essentially the one you report to.

Isn’t this correct? Isn’t this the most important relationship we can have in the work place? Of course it is. Our boss can make or break our career. In my formal working life – where I worked under someone for 12 years, i.e., where I worked as an employee – I have been fortunate to experience some great boss’s and some lousy ones as well. Why fortunate to experience some lousy ones you may ask! Well didn’t feel fortunate at all at the time – but looking back – it was valuable experience! So anyway – I did always try to do my best – at least at the beginning of the tenure under these different leaders and managers but sometimes later on – just gave up trying. Maybe in hindsight my mistake was in not investing in developing the relationship but rather thinking that just doing my work well would be enough. However to my dismay I realized that it wasn’t.

Some boss’s may feel threatened as well if you start doing really well – and then want to curtail the growth by restricting the work or limiting the work you do as well. So managing the boss becomes essential for success.

How best to manage the boss

I would suggest that as all relationships finally comes down to how we make the other person feel – even with our boss – it would come down to what he/she feels about me isn’t it! So what can I do to increase my bosses liking towards me?

First – Help Your Boss to Succeed

Wow! Never thought of that! But isn’t it really simple and powerful. If we are genuinely helping our boss to succeed without pushing ourselves forward – the chances are that our boss will in return help us to succeed as well. The law of reciprocity is quite strong generally – and when we help someone – it normally comes back to us in some way.

Getting back to helping your boss to succeed! Whenever we have some interaction with our boss – if this is in our mind – then how we speak and what we do – would automatically be colored with our purpose. Rather than trying to just do what the boss asks us to do – try to actually think of other things you could do to make his or her life easier!

What would the impact and results be? Could it be that the boss would consider us to be extremely valuable to him or her? Want to help us back? Help us achieve our own goals? Be flexible and give us flexibility when we need it? I would definitely think so – so this would in itself make what we are doing worthwhile.

Secondly – Like the bossArticle #36 (4)

People like those who like them. So if we want our boss to like us – well what we could do would be to find genuine ways to like the boss first! Again according to the law of reciprocity the boss would then find more reason to like us as well. Of course the more we help the boss – liking would also in all likelihood increase. But the effort and the start has to come from us. We need to take the initiative and make it happen.

Thirdly – Find the Boss’s Interests and Develop Interest in Them

This is a tough one – but again necessary I think. Let’s say the boss is cricket mad. And Roger, who is your colleague is also cricket mad. Well won’t it be natural that your boss and Roger are always discussing the latest match and performance of cricketers? Bound to happen isn’t it! And as we are all human – including the boss – we tend to become closer to and like those who share our same interests. So if we don’t share the same interests as the boss – can we try to develop some of them – or else we stand to lose out as we may not be able to develop the relationship to its fullest potential.

Is this sucking up to the boss? I would sincerely hope it is not – but rather being intelligent in developing some similar interests so that you could have a meaningful conversation outside off typically work related topics.

In Summary

The relationship you have with your boss could make all the difference in how high and how fast you progress in your company. Your boss could give or withhold opportunities for advancement, learning and growth, and even opportunities to excel and stand out from the crowd. I remember that one of the reasons I myself got into the sphere of Training and Development was because of an opportunity that one of my really good bosses whom I actually worked with for the longest time – gave me. My boss was Article #36 (3)Jayantha de Silva and the company was IFS R&D Ltd., where I worked as the Consulting Service Director for South Asia for some time.  Well one time Jayantha had been given an opportunity to speak at a British Computer Society forum and as he was too busy to take it on – offered it to me. Something I will always be grateful for. I took the opportunity – developed my confidence in speaking and haven’t look back since. All because of a helping hand from my Boss.

So nurture this relationship and you will definitely see dividends.

One comment

  1. It is true that your “boss” can make your life a living hell and it is important to like even respect who you report to. However the most important relationship you have at work are the ones you have with your peers. Without peer support you will not be able to get things done, you will not be able to be impact-full, you will not progress in your career. Focus on your peer relationships and be useful and kind to all.


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