When she arrived at work Tuesday morning, Alison Hafar, president of Spaces Inc. commercial design firm in Edmond, and her partner were treated to a homemade breakfast of biscuits and sausage gravy prepared by their staff, who sang “Happy Boss' Day” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, jeweler Valerie Naifeh's employees presented her with flowers, while Nona Merriman and co-workers honored their bosses at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals with bagels and doughnuts.
Sarah Sears, principal of S Design Inc., was surprised with a bottle of one of her favorite wines, while communications expert Kym Koch Thompson was lauded with kudos on Facebook, along with a huge mum and chocolate-covered strawberries.
The praised bosses were among the minority Tuesday, according to survey results released Monday by psychologist and author Michelle McQuaid.
In a recent online poll of 1,000 workers across the U.S., only 38 percent planned to thank their boss on National Boss' Day, McQuaid found. Forty-two percent said their bosses don't work very hard, nearly 20 percent said their supervisors have little or no integrity, and only 38 percent described them as “great.”
Moreover, some 70 percent of respondents said they'd be happier at work if they got along better with their bosses, pollsters found. Thirty-one percent feel uninspired and unappreciated by their bosses, and close to 15 percent feel miserable, bored and lonely.
Oklahoma natives Gayle Roberts and Glenda Crider aren't surprised with the findings, having put up with respective bad bosses. Roberts' old boss constantly would check his watch while she was discussing concerns with him. “His body language was clearly saying ‘I don't have time for you!'” she said.
Crider said a former spiteful boss stationed her at a non-ergonomic desk that led to a hand disability that forced her early retirement.
McQuaid said such poor management is triggered by the bosses' various fears.
For example, “controlling bosses fear something bad may happen and they won't be able to cope,” she said. “Meanwhile, lazy bosses are afraid they may lose something important, so they do as little as possible.”
Workers say unpredictable bosses are the worst, McQuaid said. “Employees don't know where they stand with them,” she said, “because those bosses will swing from bad to good, when they fear they may have been too harmful.”
Once employees become aware of the fears that trigger their bosses' bad behaviors, they can create a separation that can change the way their brains respond to their bad bosses, McQuaid said.
“If you're calmer and more confident, your boss will pick up on that same behavior,” she said. “Put a smile on your face and ‘fake it 'til you make it.'”
Kevin Kennemer, principal of The People Group consulting firm in Tulsa, has found most poor bosses lack good communication skills. Often, they don't share enough information about what's going on in their companies or even their own departments, Kennemer said.
Others show mistrust of their employees, he said, by being too focused on when they come and go, versus their performance and results.
“Employees today don't need managers,” Kennemer said. “They need leaders to help coach them, not get in their way. Employees want to be able to come to them with questions, and know that their bosses care for them as a person,” he said.
Companies must invest in training, so managers learn how to lead, and managers and employees know their company values and what's expected of them, Kennemer said
“It's not only the right thing to do, but also financially wise,” he said. Firms with strong cultures foster innovations that lead to success and have half the turnover of those without, he said.