SURVEY SAYS – Does Your Boss Care About What You Do?

March 25, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Recently I was having breakfast with a former colleague (and former boss).

During the course of our conversation he posed what I thought was a provocative question – and one that, with some modification, this week, I’d like to ask you;

“Does your boss care about what you do?”

Also – “When was the last time your boss told you that you were doing a good job?”

The survey is closed – but the answers can be found HERE

All responses are confidential, of course.

Recently I was having breakfast with a former colleague (and former boss), and during the course of our conversation he posed what I thought was a provocative question - and one that, with some modification, I asked readers this week - " Does your boss care about what you do?"

For most of this week's respondents, the answer is "yes" - in fact, 44% said so.   More impressively, (another) nearly 12% said "yes, passionately!"   Of course, that included readers such as the one who noted, "She cares, but if she didn't it would make my job a LOT easier." 

Another said, "I would say Yes, passionately but I can't quite make that reach. My boss is fully invested in the HR dept, however she's a CFO and I don't think she's quite allowed to be passionate about HR issues except for the financial side of them. 🙂 However, she truly understands the value HR brings to the table and treats the entire HR team as business partners. I know we are very lucky to be so valued by our boss and our company."

That's the good news.   Just over 14% said their boss cared, "but because he/she has to."   Meanwhile, one-in-ten said it was "hard to tell," while 6% said "not really", 3.7% said they "didn't think so", and 3% - "weren't sure."

As for the rest, another 3.7% said "not at all!", and 3% simply responded "no."

There were a lot of interesting perspectives - both positive and negative:

"Only when it's billable."

"Only when I have to report some error that will cost the company some money."

"Good big picture people leave the hows to the whos and know enough that they can't load a camera. Does my boss care about what I do, no as long as it's done."

"But only so she can pick apart anything I do to see if there were any oversights or omissions."

"Because if I didn't do it, he would have to!"

"More importantly, he cares about whether or not I care about what I do. Even better, he does not seem to care much about how I do what I do -- he doesn't micro-manage -- as long as I continue to do my work well."

"As long as payroll, benefits, legal, insurance, and employee issues never get out of control, he could care less."

"Of course he cares what we do, it reflects on him! But he also cares on a personal level. We are a small group and work as a team constantly. It's a lot like a family. We have to work at it to keep our little family running smoothly and harmoniously. We depend on each other."

"She doesn't know what I do most of the time and as long as I meet my reporting commitments and she doesn't get called on the carpet by her boss for what I did or didn't do, she pretty much leaves me alone."

"It depends on your definition of the word "care". She doesn't care about me and what I do, but spends too much time caring about how I do it, when I do it etc."

"Clearly he wants everything done right, at the lowest possible cost, with no problems from the Benefits area, but I don't see much evidence that he cares about what I do. Employee Benefits are increasingly viewed as a liability of the company, and not as an important retention and recruiting tool. "If we could just get rid of these benefits expenses, our earnings would be much improved...".

"Doesn't know what I do most of the time. If we have 3 or 4 meetings per year, it's big. Knows I negotiate and administer benefits, that I recruit and hire, and negotiate the collective bargaining agreement. Other than that, he has no clue what my job entails. Does not want to know."

"She goes to bat for us all the time and is not afraid to stand up to others and challenge the long-standing internal ways of doing things if our group feels a new process would be better. She also truly cares about helping each of us develop to our full potential and offers us resources and tools to do so."

"Only in a Monday-morning quarterback capacity."

"Yes, and he's very glad he has me doing it. He doesn't want to deal with details at the level found in benefits and I love them so we are a good match. He doesn't tell me I'm doing a good job all the time but then don't need to hear it all the time. He comes through when I really need him. The rest of the time he just let's me do my job. It doesn't get much better than that."

But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said, "I think my boss does care about what I do, but I know he also does a good job of hiding that fact!"

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!

I have the good fortune to have a boss who knows exactly what I'm working on and its importance to our company -- which is the reason it was given to me!
Only when it's billable.
Everyone loves a good picture/graphic
Only when I have to report some error that will cost the company some money.
Good big picture people leave the hows to the whos and know enough that they can't load a camera. Does my boss care about what I do, no as long as it's done.
But only so she can pick apart anything I do to see if there were any oversights or omissions.
I think the most part they (the two partners) do care about what I do since I'm the CFO of the law firm and my actions can directly impact not only the bottom line but also their personal tax liability. That being said, there are times when their actions work against my goals of protecting the firm's assets to ensure profitability etc.
Because if I didn't do it, he would have to!
My boss believes as I do - you're only as good as your staff!!! Therefore, he cares about what's going on both inside and outside of the office.
They care about what you do because it usually reflects on them. As long as the work gets done on time and correctly they do not care how or why.
Well only insofar as he needs something for his metrics reports and projects he is taking credit for.
More importantly, he cares about whether or not I care about what I do. Even better, he does not seem to care much about how I do what I do -- he doesn't micro-manage -- as long as I continue to do my work well.
Depends on the mood or day
What do you mean by care? Am I micromanaged? Often. Is my supervisor aware of what I do? Sometimes. Does my supervisor give conscious thought to my feeling of accomplishment in my work? Doesn't seem to.
She only cares if it serves her interests or if it affects the bottom line.
As long as payroll, benefits, legal, insurance, and employee issues never get out of control, he could care less.
Deep down, he cares, but he will also say that he doesn't know what I do (and can you believe he is the ultimate micromanager?). Talk about confusing!
Only if he personnally derives some benefit!
The only time he cares is if getting a project done is preceived as him doing a good or bad job.
My boss is pretty much disengaged from the work issues that staff are dealing with on a daily basis. His greatest asset is attendance taking. Rumor has it that he may receive another promotion. My boss' greatest concern or care is self-promotion.
Of course he cares what we do, it reflects on him! But he also cares on a personal level. We are a small group and work as a team constantly. It's a lot like a family. We have to work at it to keep our little family running smoothly and harmoniously. We depend on each other.
He's retired but still has liabilities if things go south.
I would say Yes, passionately but I can't quite make that reach. My boss is fully invested in the HR dept, however she's a CFO and I don't think she's quite allowed to be passionate about HR issues except for the financial side of them. 🙂 However, she truly understands the value HR brings to the table and treats the entire HR team as business partners. I know we are very lucky to be so valued by our boss and our company.
She doesn't know what I do most of the time and as long as I meet my reporting commitments and she doesn't get called on the carpet by her boss for what I did or didn't do, she pretty much leaves me alone.
Considering I had to tell my newly assigned boss WHAT I do, I think the answer is unequivocally NO. Even with all of the duties I reported, she wants me to add the mundane work that 50 other employees are already doing.
Are you kidding? Care?
It depends on your definition of the word "care". She doesn't care about me and what I do, but spends too much time caring about how I do it, when I do it etc.
But only if it is something he understands. Sadly, he understands little of what we do.
Clearly he wants everything done right, at the lowest possible cost, with no problems from the Benefits area, but I don't see much evidence that he cares about what I do. Employee Benefits are increasingly viewed as a liability of the company, and not as an important retention and recruiting tool. "If we could just get rid of these benefits expenses, our earnings would be much improved...".
He prefers to sit in his office with the door closed and I doubt really knows what I do all day.
On a practial level my boss does care about what I do because it can impact her career.
Doesn't know what I do most of the time. If we have 3 or 4 meetings per year, it's big. Knows I negotiate and administer benefits, that I recruit and hire, and negotiate the collective bargaining agreement. Other than that, he has no clue what my job entails. Does not want to know.
She only cares when it affects how she will be perceived.
He has no interest in the area that I work in and trivializes it.
She goes to bat for us all the time and is not afraid to stand up to others and challenge the long-standing internal ways of doing things if our group feels a new process would be better. She also truly cares about helping each of us develop to our full potential and offers us resources and tools to do so.
personally no professinally only if problems come up
My boss's boss (the CEO) always comes to me directly and we work on projects together. So my actual boss and I are often doing completely separate things. Most of the time, we're a lot more like coworkers.
Only in a Monday-morning quaterback capacity
I think my boss does care about what I do, but I know he also does a good job of hiding that fact!
I have a dual reporting relationship. In the land of politics, my previous full time boss and now partial boss cares passionately about what I do. My new partial boss probably sees me more as a tool that she's not sure what to do with.
Unless a problem in my area impacts him directly he does not care about what I do. He doesn't have an understanding of 95% of my job duties. Scary for him if I decide to leave.
Yes, and he's very glad he has me doing it. He doesn't want to deal with details at the level found in benefits and I love them so we are a good match. He doesn't tell me I'm doing a good job all the time but then don't need to hear it all the time. He comes through when I really need him. The rest of the time he just let's me do my job. It doesn't get much better than that.

Now, while I was on the topic of caring bosses, I also asked when was the last time your boss told you that you were doing a good job.   Once again, this week's respondents (or perhaps more precisely, their bosses) seemed to be a good crew.   Nearly one-in-four ( 23.6% ) said they had been affirmed in the past week, while 7.6% had been told so in the past 24 hours.  

Just over one-in-five ( 20.1% ) had heard that "good job" message in the past month, and for 12.5% , it had been "sometime in 2009."

On the other hand, for 13.2% , it had been "sometime in 2008", just over one-in-twenty ( 5.6% ) said it had been "sometime…surely", and 9.7% said they couldn't remember when.   Still, that was better than the remaining 7.6% who said their boss "never has" told them they had done a good job.

There were a number of interesting, humorous - and painful comments this week.   Here's a sampling;

"She told me during my annual review earlier this month. Otherwise I might have a different answer."

"My boss is continually providing feedback to the whole team by relaying compliments, his praise for our work, etc. -- and it is always off the top of his head. He always gives the impression he's thinking of our team before anything else he does."

"I've had more positive, and helpful critical feedback from my boss on my performance in the one year that she has been with us than I've had in the prior 23 years of my career from other bosses.

"You know those people who have to look for your errors to feel good about themselves???...that's my boss. I constantly receive recognition and praise from the people I serve, our employees, but unfortunately, the person holding the pen that writes my evaluation does not share in that opinion. I love the work I do, but the job is killing me!"

"Not only does he tell me when I do a good job, he also tells me when I don't. Fair enough !!! The good thing is he says that when I retire and/or move on, he will too!!!!"

"He starts every staff meeting by telling us how much he appreciates what we do for him and for the company."

"There is no recognition, no motivation, no understanding of what I do or what it takes to do what I do. This is why HR shouldn't report to the CFO... I forget, why am I still here? Oh, yeah, it's that bad economy and the high unemployment rate."

"My boss often tells me and my staff that we're doing a great job. Though she more often tells us how valued we are. I like being valued more than someone simply saying I've done a great job. Even though my boss is a CFO she truly "gets" HR and ensures me and my staff know we are business partners in the organization."

"I think it was in August last year when I negotiated a good health insurance renewal...via e-mail he said "good job". I do not get performance reviews, even though it is our company practice. His view is no news is good news and if there is a problem I'll let you know. For a high achiever who takes pride in her work, it's not enough."

"The management at the company I work for is very concerned about the employees. There are lots of little added things that go on around here, like periodic lunch outings, payment of continuing education and certifications, in-house training on a regular basis, ability to flex your work schedule, ... This is a nice little company to work for."

"I was doing a task (making copies) that was way below my job description for a project that had an immediate deadline. My boss recognized this and thanked me for doing the copying."

  "After many years working for less than competent managers, tyrants and there but not there managers, it is so refreshing to work with a manager who not only works right along with me but appreciates my input, regularly pats my back for a job well done, and enthusiastically champions my work and ideas. Her boss is also a great manager. He is regularly seen in the department saying kind words of encouragement and will pull everyone together to announce a small or large project completed with accolades to all who participated. I guess that is what they mean when they say that you have to pay your dues. I don't know how long this position will last, but while I'm on this ride, I will enjoy every blissful minute. I am grateful for the experience."

"She frequently tells me I'm doing a good job, however my salary doesn't reflect it."

But this week's Bonus Question Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said, "I have 25 bosses. Some days it's just hard to keep track of anything they say."

Thanks to everyone who participated in our bonus question survey!

When he handed me a nice bonus check. It was unexpected and a pleasant surprise. Of course, there was an awful lot of withholding taken to "invest" in the future of our nation.
So long as I'm not told "You're doing a bang-up job".
My boss is continually providing feedback to the whole team by relaying compliments, his praise for our work, etc. -- and it is always off the top of his head. He always gives the impression he's thinking of our team before anything else he does.
My current boss cares about what I do and has told me I am doing a good job, but that doesn't mean all of my bosses have done so. Actually, most of them have only told me when I am doing something wrong, so I have come to believe that no news is good news in most cases.
Both of my bosses have.
Annually around review time.
Yep, just before he said but...
You know those people who have to look for your errors to feel good about themselves???...that's my boss. I constantly receive recognition and praise from the people I serve, our employees, but unfortunately, the person holding the pen that writes my evaluation does not share in that opinion. I love the work I do, but the job is killing me!
There are only four of us and unfortunately I'm the one with the least experience. However, our boss often compliments us all on our work. It's a shame that she does not get the same recognition as the boys around here, and we are unable to explain to business partners why she is still stuck at the VP level when those obviously less qualified (but with much much much bigger egos) are gunning for EVP titles.
I'm told at performance review time.
He thanked me for a good job, but every compliment is followed by a dig. Today he said "Good job-we'll keep you around for another 30 days!" I've been here for 3 1/2 years.
If I wasn't around, my boss would have to do my work! And there's plenty of it to be done!
Just telling me I can handle a vendor meeting on my own is telling me I do a good job. I definitely got told I did a good job last year during my reveiw. (But then that is cheaper than a raise when the organization has no money!)
That said, I have a fairly new boss. He's been in this role less than a year. My old one did tell me from time to time that I was doing a great job. My new boss is one who doesn't think anyone is smarter than him and he can take on any job easily. By the way, he didn't have any benefits experience. Just goes to show you, it's not important what you know but it's who you know.
Not only does he tell me when I do a good job, he also tells me when I don't. Fair enough !!! The good thing is he says that when I retire and/or move on, he will too!!!!
No one cares what anyone else does these days. We have a new VP firing people right and left without having any idea of their function or worth to the potential success of the business. I understand economics but I don't understand cutting heads that actually contribute required function just to be able to brag about cutting heads.
Considering that my work helps determine our standing with the OCC, my boss really does care about what I do. The best compliment I ever received was when the OCC auditors said I was doing a good job. In fact, the CEO of our company just gave me a huge bonus for good work! Now that was a very welcome surprise with the state of the economy these days.
He's as quick to communicate his appreciation as he is displeasure. I've had the bosses who only spew criticism, so I'm lucky to have a straight-shooting, balanced chief who just lets you know where you stand.
Monthly one on ones (required by HR) he has to list my monthly accomplishments and challenges.
He starts every staff meeting by telling us how much he appreciates what we do for him and for the company.
There is no recognition, no motivation, no understanding of what I do or what it takes to do what I do. This is why HR shouldn't report to the CFO... I forget, why am I still here? Oh, yeah, it's that bad economy and the high unemployment rate.
He said "thanks" after we successfully completed an RIF last month. He's Japanese and telling someone that they did a good job isn't in his character. He just expects that you'll do your job and do it correctly.
My current manager is OK, however, a previous manager mad me feel much more involved and respected with words like: "Thanks to you there are many issues that we don't have to worry about, because you have seen to their accurate and consistent treatment. Because you are so diligent and reliable you are probably somewhat overlooked from a management standpoint. I apologize for that, However, I think you know (and you have demonstrated through your active involvement) that I am always interested in your views and ideas."
My boss is more quick to point out what is wrong that what is right.
He is one of the bosses that tries to rule by indimidation. We (his entire admin staff) are trying to bring him around, but he keeps defaulting to his old ways even through he seems somewhat aware that this does not work and it destroys employee moral. The joke around here is "no news is good news".
He occasionally tells me I'm doing a great job for completing the stupidest "projects". As an example he wanted me to write a bulletin to go out to all staff. He sent me an e-mail asking me to do this, but had written the whole thing himself in the e-mail. So all I had to do was cut and paste into the correct memo format. He was amazed at how quickly I got it done. Go figure.
She cares, but if she didn't it would make my job a LOT easier.
I have 25 bosses. Some days its just hard to keep track of anything they say.
She frequently tells me I'm doing a good job, however my salary doesn't reflect it.
After many years working for less than competent managers, tyrants and there but not there managers, it is so refreshing to work with a manager who not only works right along with me but appreciates my imput, regularly pats my back for a job well done, and enthusiastically champions my work and ideas. Her boss is also a great manager. He is regularly seen in the department saying kind words of encouragement and will pull everyone together to announce a small or large project completed with alcolades to all who participated. I guess that is what they mean when they say that you have to pay your dues. I don't know how long this position will last, but while I'm on this ride, I will enjoy every blissful minute. I am grateful for the experience. My last manager was a tyrant. If she wasn't made to look like a rose, you were made to look like a weed, humiliating you in front of your whole department. Words so cutting, you would bleed for a week. Praise was never given in public. Pats on the back were seldom and made privately, no one needed to see her soft side.
Our boss let's us know constantly if we are doing things right (or wrong). Sometimes we feel he's too picky and we feel his pain when he is severely stressed, but he also gives compliments regularly. And he tells other execs and managers that we do all the work, etc. He has his quirks, but he also looks out for us and spreads much of the credit around. All in all, he's a good guy.
My boss often tells me and my staff that we're doing a great job. Though she more often tells us how valued we are. I like being valued more than someone simply saying I've done a great job. Even though my boss is a CFO she truly "gets" HR and ensures me and my staff know we are business partners in the organization.
More in the line of gratitude when I can quickly provide insight to a vexing issue.
That's something I'll never hear from the boss I have currently! It's tough because my last boss was really good about telling me that all the time.
The management at the company I work for is very concerned about the employees. There are lots of little added things that go on around here, like periodic lunch outings, payment of continuing education and certifications, in-house training on a regular basis, ability to flex your work schedule, ... This is a nice little company to work for.
We do annual and mid year reviews and its like he pushes a recording each time. I express what I feel and he doesn't even hear me. I've told him I feel underutilized, frustrated, left out....but nothing. I try to seek things to do, but when I prepare something and give to him to review and comment, it just sits on his desk. Its unfortunate because even though I make good money, I'm dissatisfied with my current job and have been looking to find another job that will be more satisfying.
My boss is a serious control freak/micromanager of everyone - even those she does not directly supervise. No work product is good or complete unless it has her imprint.
I was doing a task (making copies) that was way below my job description for a project that had an immediate deadline. My boss recognized this and thanked me for doing the copying.
I think it was in August last year when I negotiated a good health insurance renewal...via e-mail he said "good job". I do not get performance reviews, even th ough it is our company practice. His view is no news is good news and if there is a problem I'll let you know. For a high achiever who takes pride in her work, it's not enough.
Interestingly, she tells me frequently that I'm doing a good job, but always after I've finished some stupid task that really means nothing. When I've completed a more important, difficult project (one where there's some meaning attached and the client is happy), I hear nothing. Makes me so proud to know that I filed my expense report correctly; who cares about the successful client project that's paying my salary.
Usually it is with a back-handed compliment. "Good work, but it's really our standard stuff."
But only because he was doing my performance appraisal.
I've had more positive, and helpful critical feedback from my boss on my performance in the one year that she has been with us than I've had in the prior 23 years of my career from other bosses.
Good Job? Thats a good one!!! A good job or working extra hours/days is not recognized here at all but make a mistake and I got a line forming out my door as to how and why it happend-either way I get no recognition, bonus or bailout
If my boss could do my job for me, he would - he is that mistrustful!
On my 25th service anniversary my boss did nothing to acknowledge my time with the company even after a colleague reminded her to do so.
But only in the course of my annual review, never spontaneously.
Only because we landed a new plan and he congratulated me on it.
She told me during my annual review earlier this month. Otherwise I might have a different answer.
He tells me what a good job I do every day. I have, without a doubt, the best boss in the entire world.
But she had to say something, it was annual performance review time. It's much better than one previous boss, who, five minutes into our biweekly update meetings, would start answering emails with her back to me, saying all the time "Keep talking, I'm listening" or take personal calls with "Excuse me, this is important".
My boss seems to genuinely care what's going on with my work. I report to her, but I work for others at IBM (a common set up). But we talk at least once a month (that's good considering our whole department works from home so we never even SEE each other), and she asks about my projects and their progress and offers suggestions as needed. I believe she cares and isn't just acting. She's not the best boss I've had, but she's in the top 5.
Only during annual reviews and then it's given grudingly. I used to tell him when a project had gone unusually well but his response was always a negative comment. For instance...."the audit went very smoothly this year" and his response would be "shouldn't it have cost us less then?"
I would say that my boss has told me that I have done a good job on a particular item, but probably not a good job as a whole. It seems like whenever I get comment about how I did good on something, it is followed by "Have you gotten this or that done yet?" There are days that I just want to make a comment that while I can multi-task, I cannot get everything done at once!

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