Fundamental Do’s and Don’ts for a Productive Relationship with Your Boss


How do you build a productive relationship with your new boss? You need to first focus on the fundamentals. In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about how to start off on the right foot with your new boss.

Fundamental Don’ts
Watkins provides some fundamental don’ts to build a productive relationship with your boss:

  • Don’t trash the past.
  • Don’t stay away.
  • Don’t surprise your boss.
  • Don’t approach your boss only with problems.
  • Don’t run down your checklist.
  • Don’t try to change your boss.

Fundamental Do’s
Watkins provides some fundamental do’s to build a productive relationship with your boss:

  • Take 100 percent responsibility for making the relationship work.
  • Clarify mutual expectations early and often.
  • Negotiate timelines for diagnosis and action planning.
  • Aim for early wins in areas important to your boss.
  • Pursue good marks from those whose opinions your boss respects.

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Own the relationship. You stand the most to gain. Own it.
  • Change yourself. It’s faster and more effective to change yourself than to change your boss. If something’s not working, change your approach. This doesn’t mean compromise your values. It means be flexible and adaptable in your approach.
  • Be a problem solver. It’s one thing to raise issues, it’s another to bring solutions to the table. If all you see is problems, but no solutions, then you’re part of the problem.
  • Be available. Out of sight, out of mind. You shouldn’t be impossible to reach. You should be around for important meetings and gatherings where visibility counts.
  • Know what your boss cares about. You can spend a lot of effort on something that your boss could care less about. Find out earlier vs. later. The more you line up your work with what your boss cares about, the more support you get.

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