SURVEY SAYS: Does Your Boss Ask Your Opinion?

October 5, 2006 ( - As both a boss and a "subordinate," I was intrigued by the survey we reported on earlier this week about how often bosses do (and don't) solicit the opinions of those they work with.

Intrigued enough to ask readers how often (or if) your boss solicits your opinion on important matters.

More than half (51.35%) of this week’s respondents said their opinion was solicited “when it was needed”, (one reader expounded, “Since he’s a pretty smart guy that equates to “not very often” which wasn’t one of the choices”) , while 16% said it was sought most of the time (one said, “He’s an extremely good, consensus building boss who knows when he doesn’t know something and isn’t afraid to ask” , another said “We are fortunate to have a “boss” who understands the importance of getting input from the people who actually perform the work” , and a full 13.5% said it happened “all the time.”   One reader in the latter category noted, ” I say A – all the time.    There are topics he isn’t knowledgeable on, so he gets my input and takes the credit.”   However, there is seeking opinions – and then there is actually relying on them – as another in the “all the time” group said, “…but really is not interested in what anyone else thinks.”

The vast majority of the responses were positive, of course.   “I have a great boss and he always asks for my recommendations for projects that are assigned to me, but also seeks my input on other organizational issues. I know, I’m lucky and I try to never take it for granted,” noted one.  “I love being asked and giving input!” noted another, who went on to say, “It helps me be prepared for the next step when his or a similar position needs to be filled.”   Yet another observed, “My boss asks for my opinion/advice whenever there is a significant chance that I will be able to provide helpful input, and doesn’t bother me any other time. His ability to distinguish between the two is among his best features as an administrator.”   A surprising number of responses echoed this one; “when it is needed fornormal industry info or individual cases, more often than he/she should for computer issues.”

On the Other Hand

Still, more than 11% said their opinion wasn’t sought often enough, and the rest fell between “so often I should have his/her job” and other.   Among this last grouping, of course, were some of the more scintillating comments, including:

“When he can no longer BS his way around it or things are such a mess that it ends up on my desk to get cleaned up.”

“When it is needed AND (d) not often enough i.e., it is needed much more than it is asked for!”

“(d) Not often enough, unfortunately.   I might as well be part of the furniture.   And I even have an advanced degree, but the fact that I’m female apparently trumps it.”

“G) Other—I didn’t see a response for never.”

“”This is a mute point in that when I am asked for my opinion, I know that the exact opposite will happen or be chosen even if research and other evidence supports my “opinion.”   I have actually considered presenting the data and saying “Just because research indicates this is better, lets try it the this way.”   I am curious for what the response would be.”

b) Most of the time (c) when it is needed, but he’s learning to ask more often.”

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said their boss asked their opinion, …so often that I’m glad I don’t have his job.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!