A new study that brought together economic minds from Stanford and the University of Utah found that there are good bosses out there who are both working and teaching.
By bosses, the researchers are talking about supervisors, managers, and mid-level execs… the people who are parodied in movies like Office Space and on shows like The Office. Mimicking the work environment of something akin to a customer service call center, they studied nearly 24,000 workers and almost 2,000 managers. In that situation, productivity varied depending on who was in charge.
“The fact [that] there is wide variation…implies that there is a substantial productivity effect that bosses confer on their teams,” the researchers found. Closer analysis indicated to them that sustained high levels of work output were the result of lessons taught by these managers.
The sheer number of stories about the qualities found in great managers, offering tips for being a good manager, and giving advice about things to avoid so one doesn’t become a bad manager shows that this is top-of-mind for employees around the country. The interaction between supervisors and their staff members is intimate and fraught with the issues that come when strangers are brought together with a common goal (do the work) and one person is calling the shots.
While the research shows that there are good managers out there who are teaching and working well with their staff, the fact that there is variation also shows that some supervisors are better than others. There are a few things that employees can do to maintain positive relationships with their bosses:
-Manage your boss’ expectations. Tell them how long a project will take. Explain all the things you’re working on. Let them know of any changes or shifts that will impact how you do your job. Talking things over with your boss (or putting those issues in an email that can be forwarded to others if necessary) will help them understand what steps they have to take.
-Accept that things won’t always be great. When you’re working hard, you want things to go smoothly. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, you have to work through lunch, stay late, or someone makes a mistake. Take those instances in stride. When you prove that you can handle the bumps in the road, it’s a plus for you, your manager, and your department.
-Bring your sense of humor. Sometimes, the best employee is the one with the best attitude. It helps to build a rapport with a manager (even, in some cases, a prickly one) and it’s good for your own psyche.
Some supervisors are just terrible. But most people want to do a good job. Working well with your supervisor will put you on the fast track to take their job when they move on to the next position.