Updated: Mar 27, 2018
The key to answering this question is dependent on how competent you are at your job. Like any good workplace relationship where there is an imbalance of power, the fundamental business relationship needs to be a good one.
Think of the relationship between a customer and supplier. If the fundamental business arrangement is flawed, it doesn’t matter how much two parties like each other, the relationship just won’t work because it doesn’t have a solid foundation. However, if the individuals in the customer-supplier relationship happen to respect each other as individuals, they are much more willing to work through the business issues to get to working relationship that is mutually beneficial. The same is true when working with your boss; your focus needs to be on gaining respect for a job well done.
Here are some key things to keep in mind to help build a solid work relationship with your boss and let the friendship component be completely separate.
Make their job easy for them, always present issues with your proposed solution – even if it isn’t accepted it shows initiative and ownership.
Recognize differences in your personalities and do your 50% to bridge the gap (in any good relationship each person needs to contribute by doing their 50%). However, make sure you communicate your needs to your boss to allow him/her to do their 50%. Your boss can’t read your mind and may be unaware of something they could be doing differently to allow you to be more productive at your job.
Keep them in the loop based on their preferences, not yours. If your boss likes lots of detail then give him/her lots of detail; over time, once you’ve gained their trust, you’ll probably be asked to provide less. However, let your boss be the one to make this decision. If your boss doesn’t need all the details, just that they are “covered”, then give him/her a minimum of detail. You can always take time to review work in more detail at an appropriate time to ensure they understand the depths of your talents. Choose the appropriate time for this based on your bosses ability to provide you with the attention you need.
Ensure your boss is aware of skills you don’t currently use in your job. Your boss is the number one person that can open doors for you, so make sure they know more about you than you are able to showcase in your current role.
In summary, trying to manufacture a friendship to help solve fundamental issues in the working relationship will likely result in the opposite effect and exacerbate the situation. If friendships develop at work, so be it. One of my closest friends in the world started off as someone that worked for me. The friendship developed over time, but was only made possible because of the high degree of respect that I had for the work that she delivered.