Careers

3 ways to bond with your boss that actually work

Leslie Knope of NBC's 'Parks and Recreation' is, by most standards, a great boss.
NBCUniversal Media
Leslie Knope of NBC's 'Parks and Recreation' is, by most standards, a great boss.

As a professional who has had her fair share of odd jobs and internships, I've had many bosses— about 10 to be exact.

And while I generally enjoyed working with most of them, I wish I had known one thing earlier on in my career: Workers who have a friendly, professional relationship with their bosses feel more engaged at work.

They're also more likely to get a raise. While you don't want to develop a relationship just to get on his or her "good side," connecting with your boss can make work more enjoyable and rewarding.

From my experience, here are a few, simple ways to strengthen your professional relationship with your boss.

1. Propose a walk and talk

More often than not, your boss is busy. While asking your boss to lunch or coffee every so often is a good idea, he or she may not have time. That's where the "walk and talk" comes in.

As the title implies, it's a simple walk around the building, on your floor or to a nearby cafe with your boss that usually takes five to 10 minutes.

The "walk and talk," which I've taken from one of my former editors at CNBC, works for a few reasons. It's a small time commitment, which is great for your boss and allows him or her to take a break. It gets you both walking, which is proven to stimulate creativity and good conversation.

You can propose this to your boss by saying something like "Hi, at some point today I'm going to do a few laps around the building outside, would you want to join? We could catch up and get some fresh air at the same time."

2. Pull up an image of your pet or a vacation you took

If you've chatted with your boss about a trip you took, your cat or dog you adore or a cool activity you did, show them a photo. It's a fun and quick way to show your personal side and connect.

While you certainly don't want to overshare or do this too often, sharing an image of your dog, your weekend trip to a waterfall, or the half-marathon you just ran could spark conversation and show your boss that you're friendly.

But be careful when doing this. Don't pull the images from your Snapchat or private Instagram account, as you want to keep your personal life separate from your professional one. And while this should be a given, make sure the photo is appropriate, i.e. no images with alcohol or swimsuits.

And please, put the image in a separate folder on your phone if you're worried about accidentally swiping to an inappropriate photo.

3. Bring a fun food into the office

If you visit somewhere interesting, either abroad, in a different part of your state or even know of an interesting food store near you, bring a treat back for your team.

At CNBC, people have brought all sorts of interesting treats including sweets from Europe and candied bugs from Asia. But the food doesn't have to come from abroad, one of the biggest hits at our office was a bag of incredibly spicy chips a reporter brought from one specific New York City bodega.

The trick is to bring in a food with a story behind it that you share with your boss and your colleagues. Is it a unique snack from a cool place? Did you get it while on an interesting weekend trip? Share the story with your team members.

While you don't want to be your boss's friend, these three strategies can strengthen your professional relationship and make work more fun for you.