A shocking number of people believe they have a bad boss. According to study in the Harvard Business Review, 54 percent of employees believe they aren't respected by their leaders. Without a boss that respects you, it's a stretch to believe that they're looking out for your best interests. It's this critical relationship with one's boss that determines, for many, whether or not they're happy with their job.

Having a caring, respectful relationship with your boss can be really helpful when it comes to effectively working together. You'll feel more comfortable putting forward suggestions and critiques, and your boss will be more likely to hear you out if you have that solid relationship.

So, how do you know if your boss cares about you and your career? 

Short of asking them outright (which might be really awkward), it's not always easy to tell. Some very caring bosses are tremendously overwhelmed and might be missing an opportunity to connect with their staff--but they still care. Others are so focused on their own responsibilities and advancing their own careers that they don't seem to notice what might be going on with everyone else.

Here are some questions to reflect on to find out if your boss cares about you and your career.

Does your boss...

  1. Listen when you approach them with a problem or recommendation?
  2. Share appropriate information about the direction of the business and leadership decisions?
  3. Know your professional goals?
  4. Know your key skills and how you use those to help customers and clients?
  5. Provide insights about your performance that motivate you?
  6. Provide constructive observations about areas in which you need to grow or improve?
  7. Accept that you have a different (and maybe helpful) perspective on certain topics?
  8. Understand how best to relate to you?
  9. Ask questions out of genuine interest and desire to know your thought process?
  10. Treat people differently based on their individual needs?

Hopefully, you answered yes to most or all of these questions.  However, based on the data, we know that a lot of people don't have caring bosses.

If you're in this situation, there are a couple of important options.

  • First, give your boss the benefit of the doubt and assume that they do care. Based on this "going in" assumption, find ways to reach out and get to know them better. Some bosses who seem neglectful don't know that their employees don't feel cared for- they're just distracted. They also may be their new to the job and don't know what's expected of them.
  • Schedule a meeting and determine whether or not a recurring meeting on your calendars is appropriate, given what you're working on.
  • Ask about their priorities and concerns about work to better understand their perspective.
  • Demonstrate that you care about them and understand the pressure they're under at work.
  • Ask for feedback on your performance, if you're not automatically getting that information.

If you make a number of sincere attempts to get to know your boss and still are unable to make any headway, you can get gutsy ask more directly by saying something like, "I've recently been focused on trying to get to know you better so that we can work together well here. However, I feel like my work isn't a priority right now to you. Can you help me better understand how I can get the kind of feedback and guidance I'm looking for to improve?" If this- or even something more direct- doesn't get their attention, it might be time to look for work elsewhere.

Bosses should care about the welfare of their employees, in part simply because they're human and life is better when we can relate and connect with one another. It's also important because employees are there to contribute to the business, and feeling that they and their work are cared for makes employees more invested in the company. Caring about an employee doesn't cost anything.

Outside of our personal relationships with family and close friends, our relationship with our boss is one of the most important in our lives. Bosses can wield a tremendous amount of influence and control. Their words often have a much greater impact on our confidence and aspirations than they ever realize. For this reason, it is worth the time and effort to get to know your boss and create the best possible relationship you can. You'll ultimately be happier and more successful at work.

If after you've tried and are still not getting through, it might be time to look elsewhere for a better more respectful, caring work environment.

Published on: Jul 29, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.