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How to build trust with your new boss

You’ve got a new job; use these 3 savvy tips to succeed


Illustration of person at desk talking to supervisor, standing behind her
September 23, 2022

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the fall 2022 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

If you want to create bigger and better career opportunities, it’s crucial to forge a good working relationship with your boss, especially when you’re starting a new role.

So, how do you establish good rapport with your boss while getting up to speed in a new job?

A strong working relationship depends upon building trust, and here are three strategies for doing just that:

1. Create good contracting upfront.

Make sure you understand the task or project you’ve been asked to do. These questions can help you outline the task:

  • What does success look like?

  • What standard of excellence are we shooting for?

  • What’s the timeline?

  • Are there milestones?

The answers will give you the awareness to negotiate for more time or resources if you need them, and it will also prevent you from doing too much and wasting time. 

Additionally, knowing your project timeline and milestones gives you a helpful framework for updating your boss on what’s going on — which leads to the second trust-building strategy.

2. Create operational transparency.

Operational transparency is about making your progress, and potentially your process, visible to your boss as you go. This could look like giving progress updates to your boss as you complete each milestone, which will help your boss understand and appreciate the value you’re delivering. It can also help your new boss trust that you’re going to get your job done.

But giving a progress update does not mean sharing all the details. Share the amount that will make your boss feel able to trust you — and no more.

Now, on to the third strategy.

3. Create moments of delight for your new boss.

This is about surprising your boss in a positive way. For maximum effect, use this technique sparingly; if you do it all the time, it will become expected instead of surprising.

One way to do this might be to show extra creativity or finish something way before the deadline. Or you may look to take care of something that your boss doesn’t like to do, so that when they say, “Oh no, now we’ve got to do X,” you can say, “It’s already done!”

Creating moments of delight makes you memorable and showcases your unique abilities. And better yet, it can turn your boss into your raving fan.

Building trust is worth the effort

When it comes to your relationship with your new boss, their trust in you is essential. It’s what can make the difference between stagnating in your career and achieving the success you deserve. 

Story by May Busch, the former COO of Morgan Stanley Europe. She’s now an executive coach, speaker, advisor, author and executive-in-residence in ASU’s Office of the President. Go to maybusch.com/asuthrive for more career tips.

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