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Jason Telerski

This is an interesting thread. I hadn't really thought about things being better now then they were 3 years ago, but in many ways they are.

I have fewer employees so I get to spend more time with each of them and as a result my relationships with them have improved.

I also have fewer customers and get to spend more time focusing on their individual needs. This has made them much happier and easier to work with.

Taken together these factors have resulted in a better day-to-day experience for me at work. Perhaps the combination of a more focused and attentive boss and happier customers is also making things better for my employees.

Bob Sutton


Thanks for finding this and telling us about it. Both studies use bad samples, they arent representative of the US workforce, the better samples are the bullying and -- I think -- the other one that show bullying is going down and most Americans rate their boss's pretty highly. The one you found is really crummy, it is just 231 people who completed an online survey. Note the description:

The October 2010 Spherion Bosses’ Day Workforce Survey was conducted online within the United States by Monster Worldwide on behalf of Spherion Staffing Services between September 29 and October 7, 2010 among a U.S. sample of 231 working adults, aged 20 years and older. Respondents represent those invited to participate in the survey, which includes full and part-time workers.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Monster feels the use of "margin of error" is misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published surveys come close to this ideal.


I've just come across another survey (published today) which suggests exactly the opposite:

"A noteworthy aftershock from the economic recession emerges as nearly half (45 percent) of U.S. workers indicate their relationship with their boss has been affected by the recession. Of these workers, 74 percent say the recession has weakened their relationship with their boss negatively.

These are findings of the most recent Spherion Staffing Services Snapshot survey. The 2010 Boss Day Survey, conducted by Monster on behalf of Spherion Staffing, also found that more than one-third of workers (34 percent) say they are somewhat or very dissatisfied with their relationship with their boss."

The three reasons cited:

1. Bosses offer little support in career development, with many undermining their workers.

2. Eroding trust in bosses.

3. Workers have little admiration, respect for bosses’ jobs

The full release is here:


This post is a bit confusing, because the title suggests that employees are more satisfied with their bosses, while the text emphasizes that bosses are more satisfied with their employees. Could it be that, as employees become more afraid of losing their jobs like so many others, they behave in a more deferential and obsequious way to their bosses? If so, that would definitely give the bosses the impression that their employees were happier with them, and they with their employees, even if it were not the case.

Employees may be running so scared now that they are also afraid to be truthful on a survey like this, afraid that if they are negative about the boss, it might get back to him or her.


There's a really interesting talk on TED this week by Tim Jackson ( I'm in no way an economics expert, but he seems to be arguing that the current consumer and growth based economy is unsustainable (which makes intuitive sense, I've been wondering for a long time what it was about our economic model that I didn't understand the meant it could go on growing for ever once every economy was "developed"). The system he would like to replace it with is one of reduced profits and investment in society by business as well as the other way around - in other words, the chasing of a better society rather than simply seeking more wealth. He suggests that the increasing number of successful ethical businesses are evidence that we are moving in that direction. It's not just that it would be nicer, either, he is arguing that it is truly sustainable, in both environmental and economic terms, and so may actually be our only choice.

And finally, onto my point: it seems likely that sustainable ethical business are more likely to also subscribe to a "no asshole" attitude, so perhaps the rising numbers of the two are linked?

Obviously, very few share holders are going to support a move from high profit to a more modest ethical income while the current system is still functioning, but that would seem to be in doubt and, equally, no sensible investor is going to turn down a modest income in favour of a certain loss.

It also seems likely to me that the modest and ethical companies will be more efficient and successful if they are employing non-assholes, and, as this possible new economical model takes over (I hope!), perhaps we will see much fewer rewards for assholes as their "talents" become less useful and they become anachronisms?

We can but dream!

Dean Zatkowsky

Sometimes, resentment between bosses and employees results from the bosses' tolerance of incompetent employees. Cutting a lot of dead wood during downsizing can raise everyone's spirits. Even if bad leadership remains in place, other obstacles to better performance are removed. And most people like to perform well.

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