Getting Along With the Boss2013-08-28T16:30:59-04:00

By: Roger Fulton
May 2001
Reprint Protection News

It's a simple fact of life. Everyone has a boss. The patrol officer has a sergeant; the sergeant has a lieutenant; the captain has the chief, and the chief has the client.

Regardless of where you fall in the hierarchy of your organization, it is to your advantage to get along with your boss. Failure to maintain an adequate working relationship can result in a difficult job situation, at its best. At its worst, it can end up with you standing in the unemployment line.

To help you avoid the latter, here are a few hints which can help you to maintain a good working relationship with your boss, regardless of who it is.

Don't be afraid of the boss

The boss needs you as much as you need the boss. Remember that their job is to get things done through people. You are one of those people. Just as he/she can be a key to your success, your excellent performance is necessary for their success.

All bosses have quirks

Just as you have your idiosyncrasies, so do they. Learn their quirks and learn to work with them. As a rule, you are the one who must adapt because the boss probably isn't going to change to suit your idiosyncrasies. After all, they are the boss!

Bosses don't like surprises

Keep them informed about potential problem areas. Let them know that you are aware of the potential problem and that you are taking steps to control it. Don't let the boss find out there is a serious impending problem in your area from someone else!

Don't try to hide a problem

If the problem finally arrives, then handle it. Let the boss know as soon as possible that you have a serious problem. Tell him what solutions you propose, and ask for any additional recommendations they might have. You'll be surprised at how supportive they will be.

Use the boss's time effectively

Chances are that there are several people like you reporting to the same boss. Therefore, your time with the boss is limited. Use just enough of it to get the information and guidance you need. Before going in, write down what you need to discuss and what you need from the boss.

Be ready to answer simple questions. When you have what you need, it's time to leave - unless the boss wants to discuss something more with you.

Follow up your meeting in writing

After a meeting with your boss, it may be appropriate to follow up with a short memo outlining what was discussed and what actions you both agreed to take. This gives you both a 'last chance' option in case there were any misunderstood communications during your meeting.

Never embarrass the boss - NEVER !

Many embarrassing situations are caused because the boss doesn't know about something, and therefore isn't prepared to handle it in front of peers, superiors, or the press. Your foresight in warning your boss of potentially embarrassing situations can go a long way to building a strong and trusting relationship, especially if you aren't the cause of the potential embarrassment.

Maintaining a good overall relationship with your boss can make both of your jobs much easier and more enjoyable. All it takes is a little understanding, a little tolerance, and some good, old-fashioned common sense on your part.

Roger Fulton is the author of several successful books including, Common Sense Supervision, Common Sense Leadership, and The Practical Police Manager. His work also routinely appears in several national and international security and law enforcement publications. In addition to his education and training, he has years of practical supervisory experience, including retiring as a captain with the New York State Police. You can contact him through his firm, Knight Management Corporation, P.O. Box 416, Hayes, Virginia 23072, or call him at (804) 642-2343. He can also be contacted on the Internet through his webpage at: where you will find more leadership tips and information on how to get yourself promoted, and how to be an effective leader.