Working it out

Ted Hamilton

Developing better relationships at work

The initial impression you make on your boss can mean a lot down the road – even if you don’t stay with your first employer. Having positive references will show future employers, as well as graduate schools you might apply to, that you entered the worki

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Students worry about relationships with their friends and their significant others, but most of the time, they don’t stop to think about what makes a good relationship in the workplace.

“In a work environment, a good relationship with your employer is critical,” said Ami Hollis, assistant director of the Career Services Center.

When a worker has a bad relationship with his or her boss, it can make work harder than it has to be, she said.

“I think (a good relationship) makes work a lot easier if you get along with your boss,” said Matt Sutphen, student manager of Prentice Caf‚ and Munchies. “That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about working at Prentice: Most of the managers have always been pretty easy to get along with.”

The relationship people have with bosses can determine there attitudes toward work, Hollis said.

“It can make a job you like awesome or a job you don’t like miserable,” she said.

Doing things such as showing up late, not meeting deadlines or having errors in projects can really hurt a workplace relationship, she said.

“When it comes to professionalism, it takes common sense when it comes to your job,” Hollis said. “It is important for employees to know what is expected of them.”

Although there are many things employees can do, there are also things employers can do to hurt relationships.

“Communication goes both ways,” she said. “Knowing what challenges your employees have and being able to facilitate things takes communication. You have to keep them up to date to what is going on. Employers need to make things as stress free as possible.”

Kyle Phillips, who currently works at Kent Market on the second floor of the Student Center, has had poor relationships with employers in the past.

“I had a boss who thought the world revolved around him,” he said. “He did not give clear instructions or have respect for any of the workers under him.”

Sutphen said a supervisor needs to know his or her employees as people.

“I think it’s important for an employer to get to know as many employees as possible,” he said. “If you go to work everyday and your boss doesn’t even know your name, then you might start feeling like you don’t really matter a whole lot to whatever company you’re working for.”

It is important for employers to act as role models for the people they hire, Hollis said.

“It is important for supervisors to walk the walk that they are talking,” she said.

Another important thing for employers to do is to show respect for their workers, Phillips said.

“(My favorite employer) has respect and takes other people’s ideas into consideration,” he said. “Without respect, people can’t get along together. A lot of times respect is one of the most important parts of any relationship, workplace or otherwise.”

Good relationships can sometimes determine whether an employer is good or not, Sutphen said.

“If you treat your employees poorly, you’re not going to be a very effective manager,” he said.

Hollis said there are several things that can make an employee’s relationship with his or her employer better.

“Based on personal experience, communication is key,” she said. “Communicating with your supervisor through e-mail, conversations and regular meeting times is critical. Supervisors want you to keep them up to date and stay close.”

A good thing to do in the workplace is to go above and beyond what is expected, she said.

“If you stay late or show up early, then it makes you stand out,” she said. “Making sure you say yes when you are asked to do something always impresses an employer.”

Contact features correspondent Ted Hamilton at [email protected].