25 Ways to Win Back Your Boss’s Confidence

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Want to work in a happy and productive environment? Got a secret for you; you’ll need to have the trust and confidence of your boss to ever make this a reality. But, what happens when you have broken that trust by failing to meet a deadline, by delivering subpar work, or doing something stupid? We’ve all been there at some point in our life. Here are 25 of the best ways I’ve personally found to build back the confidence of a boss, colleague, or business partner.

1. Realize that relationships change.

The relationship between you and your boss will change over time. When you just started out, that boss was your mentor and took you under their wing. As a seasoned employee though, you no longer need your boss to guide you along. You should be able to handle tasks on your own. If you are settled in and still having to constantly be reminded about your regular assignments, how can this boss trust you moving forward?

2. Keep commitments.

This should be obvious. When you say that you’ll have a report on their desk by the end of the day, make sure that you have it there. This also means standing up and taking the heat on the spot, if the job really can’t be there until tomorrow. If your boss is angry or yelling about the project — stick with, “I’m sorry, it will really have to be handed in tomorrow.” If you always do what you say, the boss can relax. The problem is with the employee who says tomorrow and it really means the next day or the next. Nothing shatters the relationship between you and your boss like you failing to meet expectations, deadlines, and goals.

3. Accept challenges.

Don’t hide in the dark and let someone else make your boss look like a rock star. Yes, it is often up to you to make your boss look good. Step up to the plate and knock it out of the park for the win. We all remember the people who won the World Series and not the guy who struck out.

4. Delay self-gratification.

“Repeatedly demonstrate an ability to delay selfish gratification for small temptations,” suggests David DeSteno, author of The Truth About Trust. “For example, work through lunch or take on onerous or tedious tasks that need to get done but no one else wants to do.”

5. “Yes, I will.”

“If you’re asked to do something by your boss, it’s likely an issue that matters to them,” says Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., and author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results. Simply saying those three words, ” grows your boss’s trust, increases the chances of advancement, and cultivates your reputation as a trustworthy, dependable person.”

6. Be consistent.

Everyday there are hurdles to overcome. You may be sick. Your boss is grumpy. Your mind is preoccupied with the fight that you had last night with your spouse. And, while these can definitely impact your performance, you have to do your best and deliver consistent work on a daily basis.

7. Keep them in the loop.

Your boss expects you to keep them informed when a deadline or the scope of work changes. If not, how can they trust you again? Always keep them informed on the progress of a project, along with any changes that have been made.

8. Understand their goals.

If you haven’t done so yet, make it a point to learn your boss’s goals, objectives, and desired outcomes. Everything that you do is tied back to those desires of the boss and can be used to your benefit when completing tasks or assignments – you know what’s expected and can complete those tasks with the specific design to please the boss. Schedule a one-on-one meeting to discover, or even review, these goals. Besides assisting you in your work, it also shows that you care about the expectations they have set forth.

9. Hone your skills.

If you’ve lost your boss’s confidence because they’re questioning your competence, then David DeSteno recommends that you “need to be seen as working to hone your skills — doing extra reading, taking additional classes, etc. — in order to be trusted again.” This is a process that won’t happen overnight, so be patient and keep working on becoming a stronger employee.

10. Don’t wait for praise.

We all like receiving praise for our hard work. But, if your boss is a great leader, they will give you that well-earned praise. However, doesn’t feel a little immature to wait for them to pat you on the back? Generally speaking, your boss may not be the cheerleader type and if you are waiting around for the praise you so richly deserve – you likely will wait a long time. Work on congratulating yourself and try to let that be enough for you. Keep working your tail off with or without praise.

11. Admit that you don’t know an answer.

If you don’t know an answer, don’t guess and provide bad information. Your boss is trusting that you do know the answer and if that answer is wrong then allow misinformation can lead to a series of mishaps. Admit that you don’t know the answer if you don’t know it, and say you will find out the answer or you’ll ask someone who does know the answer.

12. Anticipate their needs.

You’ve already taken the time to learn their goals, objectives, and desired outcomes. Now use that information to stay one-step ahead of them. For example, if there is a meeting with a high-profile client in two weeks, take the initiative and ask your boss what needs to prepared so that the meeting can run smoothly for them.

13. Know how they communicate.

We all have various ways of communicating to each other. Some prefer detailed face-to-face meeting, while others just like to send out a brief email. Knowing how your boss communicates can assist you in avoiding any miscommunication. It takes time to learn this, but it will ultimately strengthen the relationship between and your boss if you learn to communicate on their level or in their desired manner – whatever that may be.

14. Hold yourself accountable.

When you make mistake admit it. Don’t blame others. Don’t get defensive. Your boss understands that we’re all human and mistakes happen. But, when they don’t understand that a mistake may happen, hold yourself accountable – it shows that you’re in charge, know what’s going on and that you can be trusted to fix things. You don’t want to be known as the employee that is either incompetent or someone who makes excuses.

15. Don’t let them get caught off-guard.

Let’s say that you just got an email from a client who is furious that they’re taking their business elsewhere. Are you going to sit on that information until the team meeting tomorrow? You could, but that’s going to blindside your boss. Whether it’s bad new or good news, don’t ever put your boss in the situation where they’re not prepared.

16. Arrive to work early and stay late.

Getting to work before everyone else, even your boss, shows that you’re reliable and dependable. Additionally, rushing out of the office before your boss doesn’t put you in the best light. Take this additional time to prepare for the next day, or do some housekeeping like returning emails.

17. Be transparent.

During his first inaugural address in 1933, FDR said, “Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.” If you want to win back your boss’s confidence, then always be honest with them. Again, if you don’t have an answer to a question, admit it. If you made a mistake, own it. If you have crucial information, share it.

18. Let them know what your strengths are.

Great managers have a knack for identifying the strengths and uniqueness of each team member so that they can exploit it. For that to happen, you have to speak up and let them know what you’re awesome at. Not only does this include your skills and experience, but your personality, like how you handle pressure and collaborate with others. Letting your boss know where you can be of the best service demonstrates what value you bring to them and the team as a whole.

19. Empower them.

Want to get on your boss’s good side? Make them look amazing. It’s kind of like the shortstop who makes the final out in a baseball game and protects the no-hitter for the pitcher. Even though the pitcher receives all the glory, it was the shortstop who sealed the deal for them.

20. Don’t be “that” person.

We’ve all worked with “that” person. You know. The one who gossips or constantly complains. That just creates a toxic workplace environment and you can bet that your boss wants none of that. If you’re frustrated, vent outside of work and never to current employees.

21. Respect their time.

Time is extremely valuable for all us. And, especially your boss. Don’t waste their time with office nonsense or making them have to follow up with you after you missed deadline. Meet your deadlines and find out the best times to come to them with any questions or concerns.

22. Act early.

If you’ve made a mistake don’t let it boil over. Bring it to the attention of your boss as soon as possible so that it can be handled properly. If you have a question, ask it early.

23. Pick your battles wisely.

Sometimes you do have to stand up for yourself and confront your boss. But, this shouldn’t be any everyday occurrence. Know which battles are worth fighting for and which ones are better left alone.

24. Make room to change.

One of the most powerful ways to rebuild trust is to make a change on your end. For example, if you lost your boss’s confidence because you made an uncomfortable presentation, then sign-up for a public speaking course. It shows that you acknowledged the mistake and doing something to prevent it from happening again.

25. Demonstrate your loyalty.

Finally, prove that you’re on their side. Don’t keep a secret from them. Align your goals with theirs. Work with them to complete a project on-time. Always speak well of you boss, especially to the other employees at the office.