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Employees Would Prefer Boss Who Is a High-Achiever, Rather Than Nice


Today is National Boss’s Day, which makes it a perfect time to ask employees which qualities they most desire in a boss. The Workforce Institute at Kronos is here to oblige. Through an online survey administered by Harris Interactive, they asked over 4000 workers in the U.S., Australia, and India what they wanted in a manager. Some of the results were surprising.

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(Photo Credit: akumar/Flickr)

“One of the interesting aspects of this survey is that U.S. employees would choose a high-performing and demanding boss over a nice but ineffective one,” says Sharlyn Lauby of The HR Bartender. “In the same vein, they’d prefer a manager who invests in their professional development over one who invests in making a fun working environment. Employees are saying they don’t need their boss to be their best friend, rather it’s important to them that they are able to work effectively, be challenged, and grow.”

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Seventy-five percent of employees surveyed said they’d prefer a demanding but effective manager over a nice, ineffective one.

Other results from the survey included:

  • 69 percent of employees feel their managers set a good example in the way they behave, and are trustworthy, collaborative, and creative.
  • Most employees prefer to receive praise from their boss privately. 43 percent prefer direct praise from their manager, while 32 percent want to hear from the boss’s boss. Only 25 percent want their peers to get an earful of their awesomeness.
  • Millennials are more similar to other generations than is generally supposed, at least according to this survey. They prefer individual recognition, would trade “fun” programs for more professional development, and prefer the high-achieving manager to the nice one.
  • Workers rated the following qualities most important in a manager: honesty (78 percent), goal-oriented (44 percent), and compassionate (40 percent).

And last, but least shockingly, 76 percent of employees with managers find business jargon annoying. The survey specifically called out “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) as phrases for managers to avoid, if they want happy workers.

Tell Us What You Think

What do you value in a boss? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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