How to improve your relationship with your boss while working remotely
Work-from-anywhere is here to stay for many companies, which means our professional relationships have had to adapt to survive and strengthen. Read these expert tips on how to improve your relationship with your boss while working remotely.
How do I maintain a good working relationship with my boss?
“Make sure that you know your boss’s preferred communication style or approach, to help you communicate better,” says Elise McCabe, a career transition coach and managing director of Career Management Consulting. Understanding both of your styles and how to harness them for effective communication is your secret weapon for work-from-home success. “Problems arise when a boss or line manager does not discuss their expectations with their employees regarding ways of working remotely, and how to navigate this,” says Monique Schneigansz, a registered counsellor.
How does your daily office routine translate into the virtual space? Does your boss expect you to have daily meetings as a team to discuss current projects? This will also impact the communication style and frequency between you and your boss. “Talking to your manager can be difficult, particularly when it comes to sensitive topics,” says McCabe. “So, it’s important to have good communication, as this builds trust and accountability.” You may shy away from the camera but keeping the video on during a call with your boss increases the chances of mutual understanding, as you will both be able to read what the other is saying not only through tone of voice, but with body language too.
Agree on the primary method of communication you’ll use, and how frequently you’ll have check-in meetings.
How do I stop my boss from micromanaging me?
At the heart of micromanagement is a lack of trust in employees, which is terrible for employee morale, says McCabe. Be proactive in addressing it. “Be one step ahead, particularly if you have a manager who has a micromanagement style,” she says. “If your boss has not scheduled weekly catch-up sessions, you then need to be proactive and share regular updates with him or her.”
Taking the initiative shows them you’re invested in positive outcomes, you’re tracking progress because you care, and that you can flag any hiccups even if you’re not in office. “Don’t hide a problem, as this can damage the trust in your relationship further,” notes McCabe. Regular catch-ups mean you’re less likely to get pinged by your boss every hour to check on you.
Here are some tips for maximising your productivity while working from home.
How can we align on working hours?
“Many people view working from home as being convenient and allowing quick access to anything,” says Schneigansz. “Your boss may have an unconscious expectation for [you] to work on a request without considering it as working after hours.” If they do ask you to do something after hours, politely ask if the task is urgent or if it can wait until you’re back online. This will demonstrate that you are willing to do the work but that you also prioritise your downtime (as you should!) and have boundaries in place to help with this. “Working from home has become difficult for many, where there doesn’t appear to be a clear boundary between work and home life,” says McCabe. “This needs to change and be respected, as this can also lead to mental health issues.”
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Not getting the support you need?
Assess your reasons why
Before you address a lack of support or a struggle to cope with working remotely, it’s important that you are calm and have done a good deal of reflection. “Before initiating a meeting with your boss, it’s important to understand the ‘why’,” says McCabe. “I’d recommend completing a ‘self-audit’. Take a step back and review if there are any areas where you have regularly been told you need to improve, and then reflect on the steps you have taken to implement improvements or corrective action.”
Come prepared when you meet with your boss
“Be planned and prepared,” suggests McCabe. “Ask for regular planned catch-ups with an agenda and start with tabling any concerns. You definitely don’t want to wait for things to go off track before acting.”
Have the right attitude
Your feelings about not being able to cope, or a lack of support, can influence how you raise it with your boss – and perhaps not for the better. That’s why it’s important to recognise your feelings for what they are, but still approach the conversation in a respectful tone. “Be conscious of the way the message is portrayed to your boss or manager,” says Schneigansz. “If [you] address the situation with the aim of attack, the outcome will probably not be as effective.”
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