If you’re miserable in your job, it might be because you’re feeling “anonymous” – your boss and your co-workers don’t really know you.
So contends Patrick Lencioni in his book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. I agree; effective managers get to know their people, their interests, the basics of their personal lives, their likes and dislikes, and their aspirations. This shouldn’t be news for managers: if you care about your employees, they will perform better, be happier, and stick around.
But I hardly ever hear the same advice given to employees about relating up the hierarchy. Doesn’t it make sense to get to know your boss as a person? Wouldn’t a greater sense of connection with you make your boss’ life a little better? Wouldn’t it build trust and communication, and thus a better working relationship? Wouldn’t it help you understand how to interact with your boss in a more productive way? Might this connection increase his/her capacity to be a good boss? And might you even make a friend in the bargain?
Most bosses struggle with their jobs. Meeting the needs of the people in their employ is often the most confounding part of their jobs. They often feel isolated and overburdened with the emotional requirements and needs of their organizations.
And it is intellectually and emotionally lazy to assume it’s the boss’ responsibility alone to enhance the boss-employee relationship. Reach out to your boss the same way you would reach out to someone working for you. Get to know him, and search consistently for openings that can deepen the relationship in mutually beneficial ways.