SURVEY SAYS: How's YOUR Boss?

October 16, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Today is Bosses' Day (still not too late to get that card), so what better time to ask readers about their relationship with their boss.

Based on reader responses to this week’s survey, this should be a good “Bosses’ Day,” with more than half ( 52% ) saying their current boss is “the best” they had ever had.   One noted, “My boss is awesome.   She is very casual, and does not get uptight about much of anything.   Although she does not have children of her own, she is extremely understanding about needing time off to handle kids stuff. She is supportive, and never takes credit for the things I have accomplished. We were in a meeting with 7 executives once, and her boss congratulated her on a job well done, but she told them all that I had been the one to do the project.”  Another kudo came from the reader who noted , “I don’t learn anything from him in my field, but more crucial things….   management style, political style (not nasty stuff, just how to play with the big boys), and how to constantly maintain the highest level of integrity.”  But then went on to caution, “Please don’t ask my direct reports the same question….not this week !!!”

Nearly 16% weren’t willing to go quite that far – saying they were perhaps “not yet” the best, but had potential.   Some of the latter appeared to be a function of a relatively short working relationship, such as the reader who said, “Only been with the company about 3 months, so we are new to each other.   I am giving him the benefit of the doubt during the ‘honeymoon’ period.   He has to be pretty good, he hired me.”  But there were others, including the reader who noted, “My boss lets me do my job and I don’t have a lot of interaction with her.   In some ways that’s great, but it would be nice to have a boss who also takes the time to help me develop further.”  Another noted, “This person could be a spectacular leader of an organization but instead focuses efforts on external markets (media, customers, partners) while treating employees (and other issues of culture, motivation, etc.) with relative indifference…This person exhibits outstanding communication skills with external stakeholders but somehow loses that ability with internal audiences…shame really.…”

Less than 7% said their boss was only “fair-to-middling,” including the reader who said, “While my boss is a great person I am finding it more and more common that ‘Management’ does not happen.   The countless additional work assignments with no discussion of timetables, priorities, or service level requirements.   Simply assign and then ask why other tasks are not complete.”

Of course, not everyone has a good boss – nearly 12% said that their boss was “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.”  “If you hadn’t reminded me it was Bosses’ Day tomorrow, I’m certain he would have,” noted one.  “He never misses the opportunity to remind us that we work FOR him.   He criticizes in front of others and delegates with a loud, pompous attitude.”

Even worse – a somewhat larger group – roughly 14% – said that a poke in the eye would be BETTER, including the reader who said, “We tried to stage a coup last winter but it didn’t work like we had hoped. Life goes on.”   Another: “While we’re berated for arriving late to a staff meeting, his 15 to 20 minute late arrival times are always justified by saying, ‘If your schedule looks anything like mine, you can be late, too,’ as he drags out his calendar with back-to-back meetings. Funny thing, though, he and I had the same meetings before and after our staff meeting, yet I managed to arrive on time for every one.…”  And yet another said, “I wouldn’t follow him to a free lunch at a nice restaurant.”  

One reader noted, “My boss’s wife once introduced me to friends as the person who tells her husband what to do – enough said.”

Another offered an interesting perspective on bosses (see how many you can recognize from YOUR experience), “In my long employment history I worked for; ‘Godzilla’ (punched holes in the office walls…it was his building), ‘vampira’   (I know you have 3 little kids at home…but can you stay at least till seven?), ‘the 3 stooges’ (who’s in charge….does anyone know?), ‘the walking dead’   (is he breathing?   Can anyone get anything out of this guy?), and …a couple of mediocre people.”

But this week’sEditor’s Choicewas the one who said (and he wasn’t the only one), “Your lead story yesterday was that 92% of employers check on their employees’ use of e-mail and today you want me to comment on my boss? I thought you liked your readers more than that.”

As an interesting side note, we did a similar survey last year – and the results were remarkably consistent.  Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!

My boss is one of the (few) good ones.   He understands the work/life balance, is fair, and (gasp) he's very intelligent.


C.   While my boss is a great person I am finding it more and more common that "Management" does not happen.   The countless additional work assignments with no discussion of timetables priorities service level requirements.   Simply assign and then ask why other tasks are not complete.


(a) one of the best I've had.

He's pretty much the reason I stay here because he lets me do my job w/o interference, plus allows me to take on new challenges and research different ideas.   Always evenly tempered and always says "thanks" at the right time.


If you hadn't reminded me it was Boss' Day tomorrow, I'm certain he would have.   He never misses the opportunity to remind us that we work FOR him.   He criticizes in front of others and delegates with a loud, pompous attitude.   We are all waiting for his fall.   It will be a long drop.


How ironic that I should leave my current employer on such a day, and one of the reasons, d) maybe a poke in the eye would feel better after all.   As a boss myself, I think that the best compliment one should expect tomorrow is good responsible direct reports.   The role of a boss is to lead, encourage employees to their full potential, help them grow, which will always lead to better productivity, a win-win situation for an organization.

I my many years working, my conclusion is that too many people, with the wrong skills are promoted to management causing companies tremendous loss in production, revenue and most importantly talent.  


My boss's wife once introduced me to friends as the person who tells her husband what to do - enough said.


"a" - definitely the best I've ever had.   Unfortunately, he will retire in a few months.   Glad I got to work with him for 9 years.


Bosses Day - Sweetest Day - What the heck?   Yes, these are the kinds of holidays that one does feel compelled to at least buy a card because you don't want anyone to feel bad that you left them out!   We have a company wide breakfast or lunch for everyone to attend on Bosses Day and Administrative Professionals Day in April.   The idea of the get together is a nice idea but I'm not crazy about these "made up" holidays.   My boss is a very good leader and a very caring person.   One of the best bosses I have had.  


The answer is (b).   Sometimes he miscalculates just how high the pressure is but most times, except for a lack of support for additional staff, he's pretty good.   And even in that, I understand.   It would probably be a lot more entertaining to ask us about our worst bosses'.   As the expression goes - "I could write a book!"


I choose e - a poke in the eye would feel better.

Working with investors these last few years has been, excruciating - at best. MY boss has decided that his direct reports, my peers, and me should use this opportunity to learn leadership skills so we can motivate our respective teams to greatness. After our intensive training - and training I designed and delivered to the entire staff, rather than cooperate in the demonstration of leadership skills identified and agreed upon as critical for the success of any leader, MY BOSS decides instead to adopt a "Do as I say, not as I do." style.

While we're berated for arriving late to a staff meeting, his 15 to 20 minute late arrival times are always justified by saying "If your schedule looks anything like mine, you can be late, too." as he drags out his calendar with back to back meetings. Funny thing, though, he and I had the same meetings before and after our staff meeting, yet I managed to arrive on time for every one...

Thanks for letting me vent - I feel better already!


Have the Best - we are very lucky to be working here.


My answer is (b) but of the bosses, this one has the biggest gap between current performance and potential.   This person could be a spectacular leader of an organization but instead focuses efforts on external markets (media, customers, partners) while treating employees (and other issues of culture, motivation etc) with relative indifference.   Communication is one of many core elements required to be a good boss and organizational leader.   This person exhibits outstanding communication skills with external stakeholders but somehow loses that ability with internal audiences...shame really...


"Best I ever had"   --- I don't learn anything from him in my field, but more crucial things......   management style, political style (not nasty stuff, just how to play with the big boys) and how to constant maintain the highest level of integrity.

Please don't ask my direct reports the same question....not this week !!!


Survey Question.   My answer is E.   My manager is the worst one I have ever worked for.   He has no people skills, and doesn't support his subordinates.   In other words, he has no b--ls.   Needless to say, when the economy picks up a little more, I'll be checking around for a new position.


I have worked for enough "E"'s to know my current boss is an "A"!!


Mine is a definite A+++.   I've worked for the same company since graduating college 24 years ago - the past 14 years with the same boss.   Besides being intelligent, well respected both within and outside the company, easy going and fair - he's just a nice guy.   Even if I hadn't worked for him, I'd want him as a friend.


b)   Only been with the company about 3 months, so we are new to each other.   I am giving him the benefit of the doubt during the "honeymoon" period.   He has to be pretty good, he hired me.


b - not the best, but definitely has potential

I appreciate him because he gives me credit for thinking and doesn't take credit for my suggestions.   I love it - an honest manager!


I have THE best boss and THE best husband -- and I waited over 30 years for each of them.   My boss is appreciative, compassionate, gives good directions, has a great sense of humor, strong sense of ethics and high morals.   He is devoted to his family and actually takes the time to attend the scholastic and athletic events of his children.   He is ALWAYS in a good mood and never has an attitude.   It doesn't get any better and I feel truly blessed to be working for him.   There's nothing worse than working for a chauvinistic, demeaning jerk -- the kind I've had most of my working career.


Your lead story yesterday was that 92% of employers check on their employees' use of email and today you want me to comment on my boss? I thought you liked your readers more than that.


Depends on the day of the week - some days it's great - other days I can't figure out how she got where she is!   Very knowledgeable about the job but the common sense part.....is scary.


a) The best I have ever had.   Earlier this year I almost took a position in another department.   When I went to her to tell her that they had offered me the job, she told me that no matter what I decided I had to promise her right then that I would never loose contact with her.   After having a couple more conversations with my potential new boss I realized I would never be able to have the relationship that I had with my current and turned the job now.   Through this experience I came to realize how important my manager is to me and that she is truly an internal champion for me.   When no one else got a raise this year, she got me a 4.7% increase and a promotion to Director to say thank you for staying since I turned down a 15% raise to stay.


This will mark my third "Bosses Day" with my boss Timothy O'Connell, Chief Actuary.   He is the best boss I've ever had by far. Of course a poke in the eye with a sharp stick will mean a long sick leave for me, sorry, I look forward to coming to work everyday and serving Tim and this Company.


My boss is an A+. Although I have only worked for him, for the past twenty-nine years, I cannot imagine ever working for a better boss. He has always been very kind and supportive of all his employees. He has managed to take a local TPA firm from its inception to handling over 700 qualified plans, and shared the benefits of that growth with his employees. The majority of our twenty seven employees have stayed together for over ten years. I attribute this to his leadership and always treating his employees on the plus side of fair. He has set a fine example for all to follow. He works harder than anyone else in the company even though he is the owner and could delegate more and do less if he chose. When times were not that good, he made sure that the employees did not suffer even though it curtailed his income. He did not reduce any benefits or let any of our staff go, even though our number of plans and workload had been significantly reduced. I consider myself very lucky that fate hooked me up with such a Great Boss from the start.


My answer is (b).   My boss lets me do my job and I don't have a lot of interaction with her.   In some ways that's great, but it would be nice to have a boss who also takes the time to help me develop further.


Thankfully I can say (a), because she is the best.   She took the department to the country club for the day of pampering recently which has never happened to me before.   She is great.   Unfortunately my wife is on the other end of the spectrum with the wicked witch of the west who tortures everyone daily with her incompetence.   We wonder how she remains employed.   She is so bad, that there has been talk of mutiny and/or a conspiracy to get her thrown out among her subjects.   I remind my wife of the '4 C's' of any ones employment: Any Correlation between Competence and Credentials is purely Coincidental.


C- not as bad as a poke in the eye, more like when you are walking around in the dark and stub your toe - it hurts for a second, then you get over it.  


Bosses - (family aside) the three things I love are (1) my boss, (2) my company, and (3) that they monitor my e-mails.


My boss is great.    Not perfect, but who is?   His best quality, to me, is that he puts family above all and expects us to do the same, which makes for a great workplace culture.


My boss is awesome.   She is definitely the best boss I have ever had. She is very casual, and does not get uptight about much of anything.   Although she does not have children of her own, she is extremely understanding about needing time off to handle kids stuff. She is supportive, and never takes credit for the things I have accomplished. We were in a meeting with 7 executives once, and her boss congratulated her on a job well done, but she told them all that I had been the one to do the project.   She is appreciative and generous. All of us should be so lucky to have such a great boss.


I'll have to cast my vote this week as, unfortunately, an E. We tried to stage a coup last winter but it didn't work like we had hoped. Life goes on.


a) the best I've ever had. He's very easy going and understanding. He gives me full reign in doing my job without looking over my shoulder.


My boss is the best I've ever had and I can say this after working for him for over 5 years!


In response to your survey question, I would say all of the choices

listed below apply and here's why.

(a) the best you've ever had - Pretty flexible and is not a micro manager.   (b) not yet the best, but has potential, - Smart and has potential but is afraid to take a stand against management. c) fair-to-middling, extremely analytical which can be good or bad.   While doing research it helps but when he makes a mistake, becomes extremely defensive.   Takes forever to go back and figure out what went wrong and whose fault it really was cause it couldn't possibly be his.   (d) better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, or   - It's not so bad working with him as he is a good person but when it comes to providing the things you would expect for a manager (mentoring, knowledge base and the capability to make a decision), does not posses any of those qualities. (e) maybe a poke in the eye would feel better, after all. - At least you know the poke is coming. Things can move painstakingly slow when not able to make a decision on something and feels that he has to go to management for every little thing.

Overall he is a good person but just does posses the qualities of a good boss. We don't typically make a big deal of boss's day so I doubt we will be doing anything tomorrow.


I'll go with "D" and I won't be acknowledging the "holiday."   First, I hate manufactured holidays.   Secondly, it would be hypocritical to do so.   I have a boss who rarely talks to me.   


(a):   Best boss, I've ever had.

He gave me two primary objectives:

1) Make him look good &

2) bring in as much business as possible.

In return he provides great leadership, compensation, constructive feedback, and most important, coaching within our industry as well as around self, family & community.


Response would be "A".   Started new job in July 2003 and this is the best boss I've ever had.   He has provided the proper guidance and delegated responsibility with corresponding authorization to accomplish tasks.


IN MY LONG EMPLOYMENT HISTORY I WORKED FOR;

"GODZILLA" (PUNCHED HOES IN THE OFFICE WALLS...IT WAS HIS BUILDING),

"VAMPIRA"   (I KNOW YOU HAVE 3 LITTLE KIDS AT HOME...BUT CAN YOU STAY AT LEAST TILL SEVEN?)

"THE 3 STOOGES" (WHO'S IN CHARGE....DOES ANYONE KNOW?),  

"THE WALKING DEAD"   (IS HE BREATHING?   CAN ANYONE GET ANYTHING OUT OF THIS GUY?)  

AND A COUPLE OF MEDIOCRE PEOPLE.

I CAME TO WORK HERE 11 YEARS AGO.   I REPORTED DIRECTLY TO THE CEO OF THIS ORGANIZATION.   HE IS WONDERFUL, AND   A GENUINE "HUMAN BEING".    I'M SULKING, BECAUSE SINCE WE HAVE GROWN, I NOW REPORT TO SOMEONE ELSE.


My reply to the survey would be d.

I guess the biggest complaint I have about bosses in general is that they are typically promoted to this position for performing their job duties successfully.........not for their people skills! As long as management continues this trend, most of us will have to deal with the consequences. I know some of the most motivating leaders I have ever worked with have been co-workers......not bosses!


If leaders are people you would follow, then I can safely say he is not a leader.   I wouldn't follow him to a free lunch at a nice restaurant.   I vote we get rid of him and give me a sharp stick so I can poke myself in the eye.   I really would rather have that than my second line.


How about, cannot feel safe replying, as email is monitored?


My boss hasn't figured out yet how to supervise.   Every person that has ever worked for her has either transferred or quit in the ten years she has been here and she never has supervised more than one person at a time.   I myself am looking for the door.


she is (a).   Although its hard to compare when I've only had one "real" job covering the 17 years I've worked here, my boss is fair, very knowledgeable in the field, approachable and supportive of the staff.   She somehow balances her duties here with being a mom (with little assistance from her husband), actuarial exam committee work and church responsibilities, among other things.   She is a good example and one who is easy to work for.   She makes it easy to put in that extra effort to get the work done.


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