Good boss, bad boss?

Results of the government’s annual (since 2003) how-much-do-you-hate-your-boss-job-mission-agency? survey are in. Guess what?

A lot of people think their immediate supervisor stinks. Or that their agency or office could be run better. Those aren’t the exact categories, but the idea is they are less than pleased with how things are going at work or their immediate supervisor. Even more feel that their supervisors’ supervisor, that is the man or woman who runs the commission, agency, board or cabinet department where they work is pretty much a loser, too. Worse in most cases than the boss closest to them.

Some agencies have improved in the four categories (leadership and knowledge management; results-oriented performance culture; talent management and job satisfaction) surveyed.

Interesting? Sort of.

Revealing? Maybe.

Useful? To some.

Likely to change anything? Probably not.

The first employee job satisfaction survey?
Stop-the-presses news? Not so much.

The fact that labor and management don’t always, or even often, see eye to eye shouldn’t be a surprise.

A friend who is a wannabe-Egyptologist once told me that when archeologists excavated a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Upper Egypt in the 1920s, they discovered carvings on some of the pillars. When the hieroglyphics were translated, one of them turned out to be instructions as to where Ramans (presumably the foreman of the crew) could store his whip!!!

Obviously there have been tensions between workers and bosses for a long, long time.

The Office of Management and Budget which conducted the wide-ranging survey said that 266,000 people responded. That’s a lot of people. Although assured that the results would be confidential and untraceable, some folks — as in any such survey, federal or private sector — probably had reservations about venting too much spleen at the boss.

As expected, the results showed that some agencies improved in some categories. Some went down in points.

The bottom line depends not only on the data, but on each individuals analyses of it. The spin each of us put on it.

In most instances, the 2011 survey winners had done well before. An update by rounding up the usual suspects. The winners tended to be agencies with lots of higher paid professionals (Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the highly autonomous Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., NASA and the State Department to name a few) with a strong and well understood sense of mission.

Those at the bottom of the totem pole tended to be large with lots of mid-to-lower grade GS workers. Some (like DHS and HUD) have organizational issues. Others, like the Securities and Exchange Commission, have received bad press. To check out the survey for yourself, click here.

So, do you think the survey is useful? And if you took it: Did you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you Job?


By Jack Moore

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