Work Matters

Straight Talk and Solid Evidence About Organizational Life

There are a LOT of Good Bosses in the U.S.

New Study of American Workers Reveals Good News Amid Job Insecurity

In the introduction to Good Boss, Bad Boss, I emphasize that -- following an inspiring comment from my wife, Marina, who has worked in numerous management positions -- my motivation for writing it was to describe the moods and moves of the best bosses.  Or as Marina put it, to draw on the best evidence and cases I could find to show "what that looks like."  I sometimes worry that in talking about bossholes, brassholes, and assholes that I emphasize bad bosses too much.  I think it is important to keep in mind that most bosses want to be both competent and caring, and there are a lot of good bosses out there who are aiming to hone their craft.  Those are the people that I had in mind when I wrote the book -- not so much the losers and jerks.

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Toward the end, a new study came out today that reinforces this positive spirit.  It is based on a nice random probability sample of Americans by StrategyOne, which suggests that most working Americans have good bosses.  In this survey, over 80% of respondents reported that they felt respected by their bosses and that their bosses respect their work.  There was evidence that some people out there fear their bosses, as 26% feared being fired by their bosses if they took a day off from work.   On the whole, however, this survey paints a picture of people who are generally satisfied with their work, bosses, and companies -- although I given all that, I found it strange that 56% would be at least somewhat interested in leaving for a job with the same compensation elsewhere. Perhaps that was explained in part by the general job insecurity out there, which you see in this survey as well, with 44% reporting that they have had their pay cut in the last couple years and 46% reporting being concerned about losing their jobs. 

To return to my main point, however, I think it is important -- as Labor Day weekend in the U.S. is starting -- to take some pride in the quality of most of the 20 million or so bosses in our country (estimates run as high 38 million bosses), and to remember that while work can be a source of dissatisfaction and distress, and bad bosses do suck, that most of the 90% of us in the workforce who have bosses are satisfied with these immediate superiors and, more important than that, feel respected by them.  I would also add that, equally heartening, is that most bosses I know are not only competent, most devote considerable energy to getting better at their jobs.  As I said at the outset, I wrote Good Boss, Bad Boss in hopes it would be of some help to all the hard working bosses out there strive to keep honing their difficult craft.

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See my book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to be the best... and learn from the worst.

Is your boss good?  Or a certified brasshole?  Take the BRASS quiz and find out

 

Bob Sutton is an organizational psychologist, Stanford professor, and author of five books including bestseller The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss (September, 2010).

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