Monday, August 25, 2008

I Have More Sympathy for Bosses than for Supervisees

The media almost always takes the side of workers over the bosses. Witness the endless parade of books, articles, and TV shows, about bad bosses. Their supervisees, however, are usually painted as saintly.

In fact, on average, people become bosses because they are smarter and harder working. And what do they get:
  • Often bosses must supervise less competent and less hard-working people, and their hands are tied in doing so. If praise and gentle suggestions don't improve a weak employee's performance, threats of union grievances and harassment claims often tie bosses' hands.
  • Firing is often very difficult, requiring months or even years of painstaking documentation, after which significant risk still remains of a wrongful termination suit or of the surviving workers' morale declining from the loss of their pleasant if unproductive pal.
  • Bosses are often caught in the middle between higher-ups demanding more productivity and unproductive supervisees already complaining of overwork.
  • Not much more money. Unlike workers, who get overtime pay after 40 hours, managers are exempt, meaning they can (and often are expected to) work 50-60 hours a week but receive no overtime pay. And the increment in salary for being a boss is taxed at their highest rate, so, after taxes, unless they're a true big-wig, the improvement to their lifestyle is usually minimal,
If you're a boss, I want you to know that at least someone's on your side.


Okie said...

People become bosses because they are smart enough to kiss a tush.

Marty Nemko said...

Alas, that is too often true. (sigh.)

Jeff Shore said...

I've met so many managers who inherit and then are stuck with crappy, unmotivated employees. But the paranoia that is intentionally instilled into these managers by their own HR departments makes them believe that if they fire someone, even with justifiable cause, the world will surely cease to rotate. In most corporations today it seems that snorting cocaine directly off one's desk is the only remaining terminable offense. Fire someone for poor performance? That is so 1945!

Anonymous said...

Leave it to Marty to speak the unspoken truths people refuse to hear.

It's generally viewed as proper for employees to negotiate for the highest salary they can get, but mean-spirited for employers to negotiate for the lowest salary they can pay. Why should not each act in their own best interest?

Dr. Michael R. Edelstein

redrajesh said...

How about those who become bosses because of PC crap like diversity? For instance, a lot of female or minority bosses did not deserve to be there in the first place but got there because of PC. They did not accomplish and they sometimes lord over their much better subordinates who were denied anything because of not being in the politically pampered section of the population. And all these bosses do is to push targets down with no concern for how it is done and they do not set right the expectations of upper management as far as productivity improvements are concerned and just blindly accept them and ram them down the throats of their subordinates.

Grace said...

True true true. I've been a boss at different times in my working life, and I prefer positions of leadership. However, when I have officially been "the boss", I have not been given extra compensation but I've been given extra headaches. I just turned down an opportunity to be a boss. Even with the slight increase in income (which would just increase my taxes), I was not willing to take on the extra abuse. Most bosses have their hands tied and their employees don't understand the limitations that they have to operate in. I always show respect to my bosses, because for the most part, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. Until I find a promotion that gives me a real benefit (learning a new skill, meeting new mentors, etc.) I will just continue to seek unofficial positions of leadership.