How to Get Your Manager to Like You

How to Get Your Boss to Like You

Ever wondered, “how do I get my manager to like me”?

This is a great question to ask because when your manager likes you, you’re happier, more engaged, and even sleep better at night. I know this first hand because I’ve worked inside Fortune 1000 companies for over 20 years and had 13 managers.  Every time my manager liked me…I liked my job more and life was better in and outside of work.

My personal playbook for getting your manager to like you has been informed by my work with hundreds of employees to create the job they love.  In the midst of this work there’s been a common thread when it comes to getting your manager to like you… including personal clients who have been promoted from mid level manager to the C-Suite, while having a better work day, and feeling more successful.

When Your Manager Likes You It’s Good for Everyone

Having managers who like their employees is also good for the bottom line. According to Gallup, when your manager is “open, approachable, and takes a personal interest” you’re more likely to engage more on the job and be more productive.

This Gallup poll doesn’t specifically call out “likeability”, but we can surmise that getting your manager to like you is good for everyone involved, you, your manager, and the company.

When Your Manager Doesn’t Like You It Can Impact Your Health

On the other hand, when your manager doesn’t like you it causes more stress, uncertainty, and lower long term performance. Maybe you try to win their approval for awhile, but if your manager doesn’t like you, it often doesn’t get much better.  See the same Gallup study that shows when an employee doesn’t feel like they can approach their manager, 65% are disengaged (probably looking for another job).  Here are some of the other consequences:

  • A link to heart disease – When employees rates their managers as good (considerate, providing feedback, and sufficient control to the employee) there is at least a 20 percent lower risk of developing heart disease over a 10-year period than those who rated their managers as poor on such attributes. (2009 Study in Occupational & Environmental Medicine)
  • A link to high blood pressure – The degree to which supervisors demonstrate fairness (such as giving timely feedback, including praise when warranted, and showing trust and respect) impacts employees’ blood pressure.  Workers’ blood pressure readings were higher when they worked for supervisors they perceived unfavorably on such traits than when they worked for supervisors they viewed more favorably (2003 Study in Occupational & Environmental Medicine)
  • A link to mental health aliments – There is a strong association between unfairness and mental health complaints, such as depression, and physical ailments, such as sleep problems, high blood pressure and being overweight. (2012 Study in the Journal of Applied Psychology)

Reality Check – It’s Not About You

Ultimately whether your manager likes you or not is not about you…it’s 100% about your manager.  It’s based on their own history and preferences.  Instead of finding this a frustrating reality, this can liberate you to try these new strategies in your work day.

Try them.  Test them.  See what works for you and your manager.

Managers like employees who:

  • Work beyond your job description
  • Generate potential solutions
  • Speak the language of success

Here’s how:

Strategy #1: Work Beyond Your Job Description 

Your manager will like you if you regularly work beyond your job description.  There is no more hated statement than “that’s not my job”.  Become bottom-line obsessed and demonstrate that you aren’t captive to the traditional version of your job title.

  • View your job description as the “clay on the wheel” – Your manager is responsible for results of a team… not just one job.  Work like your job description is where your job starts, not ends. Take care of your core responsibilities them mold everything else around your preferences and the bigger problems in the business.
  • Don’t be confined by the Org Chart – Your manager knows that the groups results are dependent on those of the larger organization.  Coordinate cross functional meetings across the hierarchy to address problems regardless of silo or position.  Ask, “who could help best here?”.
  • Maintain the mindset of the business owner… not the employee – Your manager owns the results of the team. It’s their business.  Instead of using “me” or “my team”, consider the overall impact to the bottom-line. Instead of seeing yourself as HR, Finance, etc. Think of your self as a business owner with an expertise in a specific area. Avoid the perception that you’re HR or “Finance Guy”.  “I’m not the traditional (fill in the blank with your job title)

Right Now: Take out a post-it note write and write down “I’m not the traditional (fill in the blank with your job title). Place this by your computer screen as a reminder to think more broadly and strategically.

Strategy #2: Become a Solution Machine

Your manager will like you if you generate solutions.  No manager looks forward to problems. If you’re the person on the team that takes up half the staff meeting focusing on what’s going wrong then you’ll be avoided by the manager and everyone else.

Become a solution machine by practicing these everyday actions:

  • Reframe problems as opportunities – Your manager has more problems than opportunities, so tip the balance for them.  It takes some practice, but when a problem emerges, ask “What opportunity does this problem represent?”. Take this different approach and maintain a positive perspective.
  • Generate more than one potential solution – Your manager cares more about potential solutions than THE solution.  Most problems plaguing the office are complex with many moving parts. Take the pressure off by generating a few potential solutions then test one.  If you wait around to find the perfect solution, you’ll never make progress.  Generate ideas with a first step that’s small enough to test the idea but not so big that it puts the bottom line at risk.
  • Quantify the impact – Your manager wants to be a good steward of the budget, so take the extra time to calculate the return on investment (ROI)…at least for your final solution.

Right Now: When the next problem arises at the office (probably this afternoon), ask yourself, “What opportunity could this represent?”, then generate three potential solutions to share with your manager. Watch their face light up with delight!

Strategy #3: Speak the Language of Success

Your manager will like you if you speak the language of success. This means you learn to strategically package your message to influence others rather than escalating issues up the organizational chart when they arise.

  • Meet them where they are – Your manager will like you if you speak to their concerns first when presenting an idea.  It’s easy to make your message to come across to your manager as “just another problem”, “more work”, or “CYOA”.  Before you send another email to your manager or propose an idea, consider how your message could address a problem they face.
  • Lead with WIIFM – Your manager will like you if you share what’s in it for them (WIIFM).  Employee often get stuck thinking solely about what they would like. Instead flip the script and share what could be in it for your manager and organization first. Notice how this increases the impact of your message instantly with your manager.  Make it even more powerful by sharing this right up front.
  • Prioritize a call to action – Your manager will like you if you clearly state what action you’d like them to take.  It could be to clarify, approve, provide feedback, etc.  Too many conversations between a manager and employee leave the manager guessing at what to do next.  Begin your conversation with the end in mind.  This, of course, doesn’t mean that they will do it but making this clear makes how to respond obvious so they can take action or not and move onto the next thing.

Right Now: Look at your last email to your manager. How could you increase the influence factor by using one the tips above?

Take Action

In summary, your manager will like you if you take action.  Too many employees are content to wait and just react to whatever comes across their desk.

Instead select one of the three big strategies and take action today. Notice how this positively impacts your relationship with your manager and begins to build a positive foundation.


P.s. Download my free report, The Catastrophic Cost of Quitting: How Organizations and Employees Pay the Ultimate Price

1 Comment

  • Oluyemi

    Reply Reply February 24, 2017

    So helpful.

    Thanks Ben

Leave A Response


* Denotes Required Field