Whether you're a mid-level attorney working 100 hours per week or you're a part-time clerk in a retail clothing store on the weekends, chances are you want your boss to like you. Although some employees project confidence and familiarity with the boss, not everyone is that lucky. Nevertheless, there are surefire ways to tell if your boss likes you as an employee. If she does, keep up the good work. And if she doesn't, you may need to make changes or start looking for a new opportunity elsewhere.
Evaluate your workload. If your to-do plate is full and then some, that probably indicates that your boss believes in your competence and trusts you to do a lot of tasks well -- especially if you're the employee who never says "no" and still finds a way to get things done. Finding your to-do list empty day after day, on the other hand, could indicate a trust problem. Schedule a meeting with your boss to get to the root of the problem -- especially if your coworkers appear busy.
Ask yourself if you're a threat. If your boss suspects that you are usurping her role or badmouthing her behind her back, work to reassure her that you are operating in her best interests. In a mutually beneficial environment, she will do the same for you. Don't forget, if you work to put yourself on your boss's pedestal, you might get the title -- but not the trust -- of your colleagues.
Evaluate your competence at following directions and policy. If you have performance appraisals, review them. Comments you initially dismissed as unfair may have merit, especially if he thinks you are ignoring his sound advice. For example, if your boss indicated that you need to be a better team player, don't wander out the door at 4:59, especially if coworkers still are at their desks.
Remember that many overworked managers simply don't have to time to hand-hold every subordinate, and a lack of accolades may mean that your boss is satisfied with your work. The fact is, if your work is of poor quality, you'll find out. Add value to every conversation, meet your deadlines and do your best on every task, no matter how seemingly meaningless. When your boss can trust you with everything from travel reservations to handling a big client presentation, you'll know you've earned a powerful advocate.
- If your boss behaves unprofessionally, contact your human resources professional.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.