SURVEY SAYS: What One Thing Would Your Boss Change About YOU?

June 23, 2011 ( - OK, let’s assume that after his/her visit to you, our new friend the job satisfaction genie dropped by your boss’ desk. 

…and let’s say the job satisfaction genie offered your boss one wish to change ONE thing about YOU.  What would THAT be?   

First off, I asked readers if they agreed with what their boss would have them change – and while 38.9% said “yes”, about half as many (19.8%) said “no.”


On the other hand, a plurality (41.3%) of responses agreed “some days.”


As for those things to change…


Now, I gave readers a list – though as one reader noted, “Your survey doesn’t allow me to check “all of the above”.  True enough – there are a myriad of behavioral attitudinal changes our bosses might want to make – but the job satisfaction genie has limits!

Before we get to that list, a number of readers commented on desired changes that weren’t on the list provided:

The boss complains we don't come up with more fresh ideas or "better" ones, but if we do, he shoots down our ideas right away.  Most of the time we don't speak more than a few words before he interrupts and ends the discussion.  But if HIS way doesn't turn out like he planned, we get blamed for not pushing harder to do things our way.  You cannot win.

I get tired of reminding people of what they should be doing, so find it easier to do it myself or let it go. 

My boss would like me to be tougher.

I am a top producer, that being said, they always want more.

I adhere to a 40 hour work week unless there is a project or issue burning fire.  The rest of the department has a stay late everyday mentality.  It irritates them that I smile sweetly and disappear like a genie at quitting time.  Caveat - my work is done, I'm not late on deadlines, and my performance reviews are good.

I know my boss would want me to be more accurate.  Anything less than absolute perfection bugs him about everybody and everything.

At a Japanese company, everyone is expected to put in 10+ hours per day.

Regarding what I think my boss would tell the genie to change about me, I think she might say that I need to pursue my company certification in project that's why I picked ""do more.""  She's often telling me I'm doing a great job and I needn't change anything ;-)" 

I've changed my perceived "work behavior" in order to meet my boss' expectations.  I'm really not any different but it makes it easier to work for her.  As long as they continue to pay me, I'll continue to play the "game".

This is not an option in the list, but my boss would request that I work more quickly.   My quest for perfection generally results in things taking longer than they perhaps should.

My first performance review on this job is next week. I'm not at all sure what he would say, but hope to find out soon.

Just taking it day by day and picking up what I can.

If genie could grant my wish, my bosses wish would come true.

Interesting question! I don't know what he would say - I pick "do more" because our group has so much work to do, it would help all of us if we all "did more."

He'd tell me to delegate more, as well.

Why am I compelled to comment on everything????  He is right---sometimes I, and everyone else considered, would be better served if I just listened to everyone else's comments and left my own in my mind and not out my mouth.

It's mostly in regard to meetings.  Maybe less double booking and/or back to back meetings would allow for more timely arrivals.

Work life balance is very important to me.  I try not to work more than 9 hrs a day unless there is a big deadline.  I never seem to work enough hours for my boss.  The thing is, there aren't enough hours in a day to get my job done anyway.

I get distracted because of having to do other departments' work so that I can do my work.....

My boss would love it if I agreed with everything he said and endlessly complemented him on his brilliance and his ace abilities as an HR Director.  Unfortunately I view him as the most inept boss that I have ever had the misfortune to work for in my 30+ years of working in HR.

Don't believe he has any idea of how his subordinates deal with issues and people. He is all knowing and has a better way to do everything.

With all the new work because of the cutbacks, thee just isn't enough "hiding space" for all the projects until they can be addressed and completed.

The company/department/job/work was here before I got here, it's here while I'm here, and it'll be here when I'm gone. Don't take yourself so seriously 'cuz you'll miss the best part of being here.

As a wise man once said, "Why can't we all just get along"?  For most I succeed, but those one or two...(you know who they are). 


However, on the list provided, the changes least often named were:


Be quieter


Get along with others better


Leave work on time


Arrive at work on time


From that, one might reasonably conclude that our readers get along with folks, are relatively quiet, are at work on time – and leave work on time…or at least work for bosses that don’t care if they do.  As for quieter, one reader acknowledged "Hah...everyone knows who I am just because of the sheer volume and ability of my voice to carry. I can think I'm talking in a very reasonable volume and be told I'm shouting”.




The next tranche of responses included:


Be less demanding


Work harder


Work longer


Work neater



And from that, one might reasonably conclude that a noticeable percentage of this week’s respondents already work hard, long, neatly, and are pretty demanding….


On the topic of working harder, one reader noted, “I'd love to work harder but for some reason upper management prefers we check our brains at the door and not make any decisions on our own.  We must consult with every manager within HR before a decision can be made.”



The most changes that this week’s respondents most frequently cited as things their boss would like to change about them are:


11.9% - Talk back/speak up less


13.4% - Do more


14.9% - Be more organized



From that list, one might reasonably conclude that respondents speak up/talk back pretty regularly (perhaps too regularly), that they have bosses who expect them to do more, and who would like them to be better organized.  Though, as one reader noted, “I speak up when I see the need to, and while the company preaches openness and honesty, it certainly doesn't appear to be appreciated when it's given!”  Another said, “After 29 years at this job most folks think I have too many opinions!”

On the subject of organization, one reader noted “I'd be more organized if we had more help(:  I'm wearing too many hats at present, and sooner or later one will fall off and take the rest with it.”



That said, this week’s most commonly cited change (17.2%) desired by bosses was….



To be more demanding.


By which, it seems to me that a plurality of this week’s respondents think their boss would be more demanding of others (and, based on the talk back comment, “others” is probably not their boss!


Among my favorite verbatims this week, several were directed toward our new friend (the job satisfaction genie):

If available, we would be happy to hire the genie and set up a non-qual plan just for him/her.

"What would the job satisfaction genie change about his (or her) job? 

As soon as the Genie drops by to gets us more staff then I won't have to be here so late at night.



Other favorites included:

Amazingly, I don't think my boss would choose any of those.  She may ask that I cuss less during her directors meetings :o).

I'll admit to having a perpetual problem being on time, but since my boss shares that problem, it generally hasn't been too much of an issue, especially since I work about 10 hours a day.  But maybe the job satisfaction genie can work his magic and find a way for me to go to bed earlier so I can actually wake up before I'm already late for work!

I work out of a home office and as a consultant.  In my case, the "boss" is my wife and she is persistent in asking me to be more organized.  I'd share her most recent thoughts with you but I can't find the note.  Where is that dumb thing ...

Really her comment is to have more initiative but I didn't see that listed - anyway it's hard to do when you are already doing it all.  I know, cue the violins!  (You should be here.)

Gosh, I do all those things that are in your list of "things the boss would choose to change about me."  Apparently, I am the perfect employee (and I bet there are a lot of others out there just like me).  Now how do I get my boss to appreciate me instead of taking me for granted?

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who explained that “The "work longer" in my case, means don't quit until the boss is ready to retire.  Maybe.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!