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How to build trust with your boss and get ahead

Alina Dizik, Special to CareerBuilder

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Maintaining a trusting relationship with your boss can be a definite plus for your career. But establishing that rapport is difficult and takes a significant amount of time. Still, it's worth the effort.

"Trust is the most important ingredient for a workplace to function correctly," says Robert Whipple, chief executive of Leadergrow Inc., a leadership development firm. He adds that it's especially important to build a genuine relationship with your superior.

Here's how to build a sense of trust with your boss:

Skip the gossip
Whether you're complaining about others in the company or telling your work friends how much you dislike your boss, any kind of gossip can backfire.

"Complaining to your coworkers about your boss is a sure-fire way to plant the seeds of distrust with your boss," says Brandon Smith, an expert in workplace health and dysfunction. He recommends being especially careful while sharing work-related complaints on social networks like Facebook. "Eventually, it will get back to him or her and they will see you as an enemy versus an ally," he says.

Provide updates
Most bosses don't micromanage, so it's up to you to provide updates on your projects and build their sense of trust in your work.

"By proactively providing a status update regarding your progress on a regular basis, you enhance trust because your manager doesn't wonder what you are up to and doesn't have to ask," explains Smith.

Don't over promise
It can be easy to commit to several projects just to find out you can't finish them all at the end of the day. "Poor follow-up trashes trust," Whipple says. Even if your boss isn't looking over your shoulder, make a point to meet any deadlines you've set for yourself and don't set the bar too high.

Never hold back pertinent information
Even if something you tell your boss may cast you in a worse light, omitting key details is a definite no, says Kristi Hedges a managing partner at Element North, a leadership development firm. "Tell it straight and avoid lies of omission," Hedges says. "Don't hold back information that may be hard to deliver, or feedback that [your boss] needs to be successful."

Be a Team Player
For many supervisors, the element of trust is also determined by how employees interact with their peers. It's important to work as a team and contribute where your help is needed rather than solely seeking attention for your own projects "There's a fine line between being ambitious and seeming to be out for yourself," Hedges says.

Go beyond the office
Learning about your boss on a casual basis can be a great way to develop a stronger rapport, says Smith.

"Whether it's an occasional lunch with your manager or the casual non work-related conversation, by getting to know him or her on a more personal level, you build trust because you find more points of connection," he says. Ask for feedback during these informal gatherings, which can also help you establish a more trusting relationship.

Demonstrate consistency
Another way employees can build trust is by "demonstrating a stable mood and composure, and reacting consistently to challenges" Hedges says. If you tend to have weeks of productivity coupled with days where you're less productive, aim to be more consistent, she explains. "You can undermine all the benefit you get from a stellar project by seeming to check out the week after," she says.

As you continue to build trust with your boss, it's important to also consider what kind messages you're getting back, Smith points out.

"Sometimes we try to build trust with a boss that isn't worthy of our trust," he says. "If you see your boss as unethical, abusive, manipulative, unstable or incompetent, keep a healthy distance." Some supervisors can actually punish employees for revealing too much or being too trusting -- it pays to be careful with those types of managers.

Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

Last Updated: 10/05/2011 - 5:37 PM


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