Boss’s Day Survey Finds How Workers Really Feel About Their Managers

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Oct 14, 2013

Did you know that this coming Wednesday — October 16 — is National Boss’s Day in the U.S. and Canada?

Well, I didn’t either, and the only reason I found out is that the Workforce Institute at Kronos conducted an online survey with Harris Interactive that explored attributes of the best managers; employees preferred form of recognition; and the management-speak phrases that employees find the most annoying.

You might find, as I did, that some of these results from the 2013 Kronos Boss’s Day Survey interesting and worth thinking about if YOU are a manager. For example:

  • An overwhelming majority of employees (69 percent) of employees believe their managers set a good example in the way they behave, agreeing they are ethical, honest, collaborative,creative, empowering, innovative, dedicated, and trustworthy. A whopping 92 percent of those who believe this to be true, also believe their managers adhere to those values on a regular basis.
  • When given the choice between a manager who is a high achiever but demanding, or a manager who is nice but ineffective, 75 percent of employees with managers would choose the high achiever.
  • When asked to rank the three most important attributes of a good manager, honesty was the front-runner (78 percent), followed by goal-oriented (44 percent), and compassionate (40 percent).
  • When asked whether they’d prefer a manager who invests in their professional development or one who invests in programs to make the work environment more fun, 61 percent chose professional development while only 39 percent chose fun.
  • When it comes to being recognized, most employees with managers would rather receive praise privately. Four out of 10 (43 percent) of employees with managers prefer direct individual praise from their manager; while 32 percent favor praise from their manager’s manager, and 25 percent prefer praise in front of their peers.
  • And in a survey finding that most will be surprised at, “only” 76 percent of employees with managers find business jargon terribly annoying. Phrases that they dislike include: “Think outside the box” (25 percent); “I don’t care how, just get it done” (24 percent); and “It’s on my radar” (19 percent).

Millennials? Not different from other generations

One finding that jumped out at me, because it breaks through all the generational nonsense you hear, is that the survey reveals that most employees don’t believe that Millennials are all that different from previous generations.

Their preference for individual recognition; investment in professional development over fun work programs; and high-achieving but demanding manager over nice but ineffective manager, are the same as previous generations within the workforce.

This last finding doesn’t surprise me in the slightest because I have been saying this since 2009:

The Millennial generation … is no better or worse than any other generation that came before. Yes, they have their own unique generational issues, but in my close experience with them, Millennials reflect what you find in other generations and society as a whole—some are good, some average, some clueless.

In my personal experience with the Millennial generation — I hate the nonsensical and meaningless Generation Y tag that some use to describe them — I have found that there is no one way to characterize or manage them. The three Millennials that I am closely related to are as different as any three people you would find on a street corner. And the classroom of Millennials that I teach writing to each semester at a local university follows this same pattern…

The notion that the Millennial generation is so unique and different from generations before them is nonsense. They are different, yes, but so is every other generation …”

A good question for next year

The 2013 Kronos Boss’s Day survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos Incorporated from Sept. 24-26, 2013 among 2,041 adults ages 18 and older, among whom 809 are employed full-time/part-time who have managers, and in Australia and India among 2,100 adults age 18-64, among whom 1,411 are employed full-time/part-time who have managers. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Boss’s Day is supposed to be a day for employees to thank their bosses for being kind and fair throughout the year. Although it’s nice we celebrate that on Oct. 16, it makes me wonder — why don’t we celebrate being kind and fair to each other every single day at work?

Maybe that’s a good question for next year’s Boss’s Day Survey