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Bosses get bad rating in survey

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Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Would you take a bullet for your boss?

More than 70 percent of people who were asked that question in a recent survey conducted by bodyguard David Simmonds, whose job it is to do just that, said no way would they stand between someone with a gun and their boss.

Not surprising, right? Unless, like Simmonds, your duty is to protect the person you work for, it's asking a lot.

But what is startling is that many people dislike their managers so much that they're not even willing to cover up for their boss's mistakes, according to my very unscientific survey. Some say they would go as far as to sabotage the work.

The biggest frustration people say they have at work are “idiot” bosses. They define them as bosses who:

• Do not have a clue how to do their jobs.

• Aren't able to solve problems when you come to them with issues.

• Are insensitive to people around them.

Insensitivity includes managers who berate employees in front of others and who take credit for work they didn't do.

Surveys show quite a discrepancy between how employees rate their managers and how the managers rate themselves. The latter think they're a lot better at managing than their employees rate them.

Part of the reason managers don't know how folks feel about them is that only a small percentage of the workforce is given the chance to review a manager's performance formally. And most workers aren't going to take the risk of telling their manager what they really think.

Even bosses who are not mean, incompetent, clueless and insensitive have a tough go at it because of the nature of the relationship, which has a “sense of ‘superior-inferior,' ” psychologist Elizabeth Lombard says.

“Feeling ‘inferior' does not feel good. A worker is often anxious around her boss, second-guessing what she is doing because she expects her boss to be constantly judging her,” Lombard says.

The relationship “involves an uneven power dynamic,” psychotherapist Charles Allen says. “In general, people don't like being told what to do.”

They would be OK with being told what to do if — and that's a big if — “they have a high level of confidence and trust that the boss knows what they are doing and it will bring about a desirable result,” he says.

Too many workers don't have that level of trust. As a result, many will leave their jobs next year and for new bosses.

A survey by British recruitment firm Staffbay found that of 15,000 workers, 87 percent wanted to leave their job and would be hunting for another one in 2014. When asked why, 53 percent said: “I don't trust my boss.”

What exactly don't they trust? Many respondents said they don't trust them “to do the right thing by them and their career.” Others felt they weren't valued.

If you manage people and really want to know how you are doing, here's the simplest way to find out: Use the technique of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.

He would walk around the city and ask the people he served, “How'm I doin'?”

Write to Andrea Kay her in care of USA TODAY/Gannett, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22108. E-mail: andrea@andreakay.com.

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