11 Ways To Build A Great Relationship With Your Manager

The relationship you have with your line manager is critical.

It will influence your career advancement, your happiness at work and your salary.

These relationships don’t happen overnight. They take time, thought and consideration.

If you are a new line manager yourself, take a look at our line manager courses!

11 Ways To Build A Great Relationship With Your Line Manager

1. Keep An Open Line Of Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship.

Learn how to communicate with your boss effectively.

Keep them informed and let them know how you’re getting on regularly.

If you are having problems, communicate that to your boss and ask for advice. Don’t bury problems. Managers hate nasty surprises.

Don’t be afraid to express an opinion. Hopefully, they will value your views, even if you disagree.

The key to all these things is to learn to communicate the correct way.

For example, if you disagree with them, that’s fine. You just need to communicate it the right way.

Be respectful. Explain why you disagree, and present sensible modifications to their idea.

Don’t do it in front of the whole team. Approach your line manager individually.

2. Initiative & Innovation

Line managers love team members who are proactive.

If you see a problem, be proactive and try to solve it.

If you can’t solve it, be sure to communicate the issue you have spotted to others and try to at least come up with ways that you could mitigate the problem.

This shows that you’re engaged and interested and looking for ways to improve.

3. Schedule Appropriate Catch-Ups

Try to fix a regular catch-up with your line manager.

This could be weekly or monthly, but it is a chance for you to update your boss on your projects.

This may seem unnecessary to you but remember your line manager has a number of responsibilities. The work that you carry out is probably only a small part of their overall role.

Take the initiative and schedule a regular meeting with your manager.

When you turn up, make sure that you are prepared. Stick to the defined time limit and make sure that you know the points that you would like to discuss.

If they have a tendency to micromanage, then checking in like this can be a good way to manage that.

4. Discuss Goals & Targets

Are you aware of your line manager’s goals and agenda for the team? Where do you fit in, and how can you help?

Understanding your boss’s goals for your team will help align your team’s goals with your own.

Make clear to your manager that you are a team player by working to make sure that your team (and so your boss) hits team goals and not just narrowly focused on your personal goals.

Remember that just as you report to your manager, (s)he reports to a manager who is the next level up in the corporate hierarchy.

5. Ask For Feedback

Managers love team members who try to improve.

Ask for feedback often.

It shows that you care enough about your work to want to know how you can improve.

In turn, that shows you’re invested in the company, and will opens up avenues for career advancement.

When asking for feedback, make sure that you listen attentively, take notes and make appropriate changes to how you work.

There is nothing more frustrating for a manager than taking the time to offer clear feedback and then the team member concerned not making any changes.

6. Demonstrate Your Value

Your line manager hired you for a reason.

Demonstrate the value you add by making sure that you speak up in meetings.

Arm yourself with facts and be confident enough to present them.

Your manager is busy.

It is fantasy to believe that they will ‘just know’ what you are contributing, if nothing else it’s unfair to put the onus on them to find out.

You need to make it easy for them to see what you’re contributing.

7. Learn Your Manager’s Communication Style

Does your boss prefer one-sentence updates or detailed explanations ? Do they like email updates or short one-on-ones?

Learn the boss’s style and use it when communicating with them.

8. Your Manager Is Human Too

Line managers are human too.

They make mistakes; they have emotions; they have families and personal issues back at home.

They may still be training to be a line manager and new to their role.

While most put on a professional game face and attack their to-do lists, remember that they have a personal life as well.

You don’t have to be best buddies with your line manager. But to make sure to get to know them personally and cut them some slack if they’re having a tough time.

9. Make Your Boss Look Good

Everyone likes someone that makes them look good. This applies to managers as well.

Find ways to make them shine and help them out, and they will love you for it.

For example, anticipate obvious problems your boss might have and prepare solutions.

If they have to present at a meeting, prepare answers to obvious questions. It makes them shine and demonstrates that they can count on you.

10. Offer Help

Your manager will have a to-do list a mile long. If you aren’t terribly busy, ask if they need a hand with anything.

It demonstrates that you’re ready and willing to take on more responsibility and takes some work off them.

Both things that a manager will appreciate.

11. Under-promise and over-deliver

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book to build a great relationship with your line manager.

Doing this repeatedly will mean that your line manager can rely on you.

If you deliver on time regularly, it shows that you can manage the workload.

It also means that your manager can relax, confident that when they delegate a piece of work to you, it will actually get done effectively and be delivered on time.

If you want to better understand their position, read our guide on what a line manager is here.

3 Mistakes People Make With Their Line Manager

1. They Never Accept Responsibility

The worst mistake you can make is never taking responsibility for mistakes.

Your manager will know that everyone makes mistakes.

The key is that you own up to them and work to correct them.

2. They Point Out Problems, Never Solutions

Some people always focus on the problem instead of the solutions.

This can be hugely frustrating for their managers. Their managers tend to feel that these people just come and give them problems.

Before you approach your supervisor with a problem, come up with practical ideas for a solution and be ready to implement them.

3. They Don’t Finish Projects

A 100% complete project is better than five half-done ones.

Don’t be the person that never completes projects. It will mean that your line manager will see you as unreliable.

      • Firstly, make sure that you don’t overcommit and take on too many things.
      • Secondly, if you have challenges completing projects, enlist the help of other team members. Also, be honest with your line manager and see if they can help you to see things through.

Final Thoughts

Your line manager holds the keys to your career.

Building a good relationship with them is as much your responsibility as theirs.

Be proactive and cultivate the relationship, it will pay huge dividends.

For more on line management, read our guide on line managers vs mentors here.


About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training which he has been running for over 10 years.

He is a Natural Sciences graduate from the University of Cambridge and a qualified accountant with the ICAEW.

He previously worked as a venture capitalist and banker and so had extensive experience with Excel from building financial models before moving to learn SQL, Microsoft Power BI and other technologies more recently.