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A not-so happy National Boss Day

National Boss Day is here, and a survey reveals that being top dog is a thankless task.
Are you happy at work? Half of those polled in a recent survey say their boss is merely "adequate," while 11 percent classified their leader as "hopeless."
Are you happy at work? Half of those polled in a recent survey say their boss is merely "adequate," while 11 percent classified their leader as "hopeless."Getty Images file
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Psst. Aren’t you forgetting something? Today is a special day. No, it’s not your spouse's birthday. Nope, it’s not your anniversary, either. It’s not Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or take-your-kid-to-work day.

Give up?

It’s National Boss Day.

Stop laughing. Yes, there really is a day to celebrate your boss, and yes, it really is today.

In an age where there seems to be a holiday for absolutely everybody and everything, you can be forgiven for a scoff, chuckle — heck, even a belly laugh at the notion of a whole day devoted to toasting your leader. According to a recent survey, you would hardly be alone.

Consider this:

Fifty-four percent of American workers say “you could never pay me enough” to take their boss’ job. Women were far more likely to feel that way (68 percent) than men (42 percent).

“One of the things most job seekers say is ‘I want growth,’” says Janette Marx, Los Angeles region vice president for Ajilon, a specialty staffing and recruiting services firm. “But growth doesn’t always mean mangement. … It doesn’t mean the big title and big responsibilities that comes along with it.”

Why are women more likely to loathe their manager's duties?

“[Women are] tied to wanting that work-life balance and still trying to balance that out,” Marx says.

The Boss Day survey of 625 full- or part-time working adults — the first conducted by Ajilon — revealed some other interesting findings.

  • Fifty percent of respondents say their boss, as a leader, is merely “adequate.” Thirty percent classify their boss as a “champion,” while 11 percent say “hopeless.”
  • Thirty-seven percent say trust in their boss wavers on a day-to-day basis, while 22 percent say they have little to no trust whatsoever.
  • More than half of those polled neither envy nor pity their boss.

The survey raises the question: Why is it so difficult to attract and hire good bosses?

“Bosses are often seen as the bad guy, and some people just don’t want to do that anymore,” says Rod Fralicx, global employee research director of Mercer Consulting.

Surely adding to this image are headlines from companies like Refco, WorldCom, Tyco, Enron and others showing gross corporate mismanagement, overblown compensation and sometimes criminal activities — nearly all of which come at the expense of employees as well as shareholders.

In a survey managed by Fralicx earlier this year, fewer than half the people polled said their organization is well managed, and only 38 percent said senior management does a good job explaining reasons behind important business decisions.

Fralicx contends this is partly because of the type of person that is tapped as a boss.

“Too often, it’s a person who has been there the longest or has the best technical skills,” but not someone who necessarily makes the best leader, he said.

The job of creating a good work situation should not be the sole responsibility of the boss. Ajilon suggests several ways workers can show their worth:

  • Communicate with your boss in his or her terms.
  • Realize your boss’ success is tied to your success and work together.
  • Impress your boss when he or she is away by completing jobs assigned to you, making sure projects don’t go unfinished, and sending updates on the status of projects.
  • Toot your own horn and make sure your boss knows your accomplishments.
  • Show you’re committed to the company, not just yourself.

Ajilon's Marx suggests you consider that there is more to being a boss than meets the eye. “Management is a hard thing. It’s a tougher job than most people realize.”

National Boss Day falls on October 16, but this year is celebrated Monday, October 17 — the closest working day.