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Lead Your Team Managing

Want Better Employee-Boss Relationships? Communication and Recognition Help

Want Better Employee-Boss Relationships? Communication and Recognition Help
Credit: Goodluz/Shutterstock

In their relationships with their bosses, most employees keep it strictly professional, new research finds.

A study from the staffing firm Accountemps revealed that 61 percent of workers said they while they work well with their bosses and have mutual respect for one another, they wouldn't consider themselves friends outside of the office.  Just 23 percent of the workers surveyed said they are friends with their managers.

A small group of workers said not only are they not friends, but they barely have any connection with their bosses. The research found that 13 percent described their relationships as distant, with 3 percent saying they have no relationship at all.

"The employee-manager relationship is a two-way street, and both parties play a role in the dynamic," Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps, said in a statement. "The best relationships are built on strong communication combined with mutual trust and respect."

Overall, 64 percent of workers in the survey said they are generally happy with their current bosses. Just 8 percent of those surveyed said they are totally dissatisfied with the person they work for. [See Related Story: Do Your Employees Secretly Dislike You? What to Do About It]

Despite the good vibes most workers said they have with their bosses, managers could improve these relationships even more, survey respondents said. Specifically, 37 percent of employees said they want better communication from their managers, with 31 percent saying they want their supervisors to recognize them more for their efforts. Other areas employees would like to see their bosses work on include helping the workers progress in their careers, listening, standing up for them in difficult situations and promoting work-life balance, the research showed.

The study discovered that most workers recognize how hard it is to be in charge and would rather not deal with that stress and the added responsibilities. Nearly 70 percent of the employees surveyed said they don't aspire their bosses' jobs.

"Managers can sometimes get a bad rap, but in reality, most professionals understand that the job is tough and complex and may not be for everyone," Driscoll said. "The challenge for many bosses today isn't just identifying a successor, but convincing that professional to step up to the challenge." 

Accountemps offered several tips to both bosses and employees for strengthening their relationships:


  • Manager: Set clear expectations for employees and create an environment where they feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns. It is important to remember that in order to be a good communicator, you need to be a good listener.
  • Employee: Ask your boss for clarification if you don't know what they expect from you, and be open to constructive feedback. Also, take advantage of any professional development opportunities that can boost your communication skills.

Career planning

  • Manager: Spend time creating a career-path plan for each of your employees. Go over the plan with them and highlight specific milestones they need to reach in order to stay on their desired track. Let your employees know how you and the company will help them reach those milestones.
  • Employees: Don't be afraid to initiate career-path discussions with your boss. Find out where you need to improve in order to reach your goals.


  • Manager: To keep your employees happy and eager to stay with your organization, you need to show your gratitude for a job well done. Don't just let them know how happy you are with their performance; be sure to announce their accomplishments to the rest of your team, too.
  • Employees: Keep your manager apprised of all of the work you're doing and what you have achieved. Also, don't just wait for praise to come your way. Compliment others when you see them doing a good job.

Work-life balance

  • Manager: See what types of flexible scheduling you can offer your employees. In addition, see if there are any on-site perks, such as gyms and free meals, that will help employees achieve the work-life balance they strive for.
  • Employees: Don't hesitate to tell your boss when you feel overworked. Many managers will find ways to take a little bit off your plate.

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 U.S. workers over the age of 18.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.