Having a good relationship with your boss, makes your work life a lot more enjoyable, means you are more likely to improve your performance and isn't exactly harmful to your career prospects either.
Ensuring your efforts at work are noticed by an appreciative audience is, as far as you're concerned, as important as doing good work in the first place.
There's an old saying that Zen master continually seem to bring out, "if a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear does it make a sound?"
I'd make that a lot more straight forward and relevant by saying that even if you're the best employee in the world, if you neglect to develop a good relationship with your boss your qualities may go unnoticed an therefore count for nothing.
The benefits of this are obviously two way, but you have to earn them first. It's as simple as making sure you do the things you say you'll do, by the time you said you'd do them, being in the place you promised to be, having made the preparations you promised you'd make. Sounds simple, right? Well in essence it is, but I'm not so naive as to think there aren't situations where this won't be the case.
The important thing in this situation is not to abuse your boss' trust any further than you already have by trying to cover up any mistakes. This just leads to lies and cover ups that will, at some point, come back to bite you. Even if they don't it'll stress you out and put more of a strain on your relationship than if you simply admit to the problem.
Remember, Watergate would've been forgotten straight away if it weren't for the attempt to cover up the initial misdeed with further lies.
Think Like Copernicus
Copernicus was an observant fellow. It was he who noticed that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. As a result we have him to thank for our current model of the solar system.
You need to be equally observant to figure out what's at the centre of your boss' universe and how you fit into their cosmic plan.
What are their aspirations for the operation, what are their main concerns? Make their hopes and worries your own and make sure that you're part of the solution, not the problem. By expanding you view of work, from the narrow focus on your own remit, and seeing how it fits into the bigger picture, you'll work better and be in a better position to use your initiative to make suggestions as to how the whole shooting match could be improved.
Understand and Adapt to Their Moods
This will help you communicate with your boss most effectively. After all wouldn't it be a shame to have a great suggestion ignored just because you put it forward at an inappropriate time, when your boss had something else on their mind, or was just having a plain awful day?
Likewise, figure out when the best time to discuss certain issues will be. If the company's current focus is firmly on a short term objective, your bold new idea for a new 5 year strategy, even if it is brilliant, will not only seem irrelevant, but will give the impression that you do not understand the firm's position or understand its goals.
Give Them a Chance to Praise You
It seems unfair but, not only do you have to perform acts worthy of praise, you have to engineer situations in which it is possible for your boss to acknowledge your achievements. You can achieve this by asking for feedback. There's every chance your boss my not realise how great you are until you invite him to think about it.
This is also a great idea as it makes your boss feel valued. Obviously it's a good idea to learn from your boss anyway, but if you can do it in a way that will give them the satisfaction of having imparted some of their wisdom, they will in turn place a value on you as their mentee.
Harry Henderson has a wealth of experience in business and helping people achieve their career goals is now his full time occupation. He starts by helping people in their job search before guiding them on how to progress through to their ideal 'job for life' position.
Image from: SXC