What’s love got to do with it?

Everything, if you want to establish a great professional relationship with your employer

In most relationships, there are good times and bad, ups and downs, minutes of pure thrill and moments of complete boredom. No less is true for the professional relationship between employers and their employees.

“Simply put, maintaining employ-ment is managing the relationship between employee and employer,” says Phyllis Shurn-Hannah, president of Cascade Associates Inc., a Philadelphia-based human resources consulting, staffing and recruiting firm that specializes in diversity recruitment. “It’s about give and take, respect, loyalty and communication-all those things you should find in other healthy relationships.”

Shurn-Hannah points out that “although relationships vary, there are some basic strategies to building and maintaining a strong, healthy relationship with employers.” Here are some of them:

  • Get to know your employer before you commit. “It’s imperative that you know all you can about the company so that you can make an informed decision about whether you want to (1) be a part of this company and (2) if the company will be able to meet your needs, professional and personal,” says Shurn-Hannah. Even if you’re already hired, take responsibility to continually learn about the company’s history and its philosophy. Research and analyze the company’s mission statement, which explains why the company exists, where it’s been and where it’s looking to go.
  • Take time to think things over. After gathering all of this information, make it a point to ask management for clarification, if necessary. If you find that you can’t support your employer’s vision, or that its practices and procedures aren’t in sync with your own values, then you are probably with the wrong company and should look to move on quickly.
  • Seek to impress. While making a great impression begins with your appearance, it goes much further. Beyond showing off an expensive suit or dress, it means exceeding your job requirements and your boss’s expectations. Concentrate on what you do and how you behave. Take pride in small things, such as saying “good morning” every day, and treat every task as an important project. Be punctual, keep promises, take responsibility, remember names, follow directions and consistently put forth your best effort.
  • Keep the “dating spirit” alive. Make your boss “fall” for you every day. Learn what he or she wants and provide it. Be alert to opportunities to help your boss look good, especially to his or her boss. Seek ways to make your boss’s job easier, and constantly sell yourself and your services to the company. Give your job everything you’ve got. Do more than you’re asked in less time than expected. Force your boss and co-workers to ask themselves, “How did we ever make it without her?”
  • Spread the love. Get to know others in the company. “Mingle, network and nurture relationships with co-workers and peers,” advises Shurn-Hannah. Set yourself apart by making time to help others succeed in their careers. Bosses and co-workers appreciate individuals who care enough to help. Exhibit help by supporting others’ decisions, offering suggestions about how a project can be improved, collaborating to achieve better results and “looking out” for the
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