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What do bosses think?


Ever wondered what's going through your boss's head? Here's the 10 secrets they would love to be able to share.

Behind the guard ... many things go unsaid between bosses and workers.

Behind the guard ... many things go unsaid between bosses and workers. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Even if you're a remarkable boss, there's a lot you don't know about your employees. There's also a lot your employees don't know about you. According to business culture website Inc., here are 10 things bosses wish they could say to their employees:

1. I care about whether you like me.

I want you to like me. When I come off like a hard-arse who doesn't care about your opinions, it's mostly because I'm insecure or uncertain of my authority. If I'm the owner, my business is an extension of myself. If I'm your boss, the company is at least partly an extension of myself. So I want you to like your job. And I definitely want you to like me.

2. I don't think I know everything.

A few people stepped in, without being asked, and made a huge difference in my professional life. I will always be grateful to them. So I don't offer you advice because I think I'm all knowing or all-powerful. I see something special in you, and I'm repaying the debt I owe to the people who helped me.

3. I think it's great when you're having fun.

You don't have to lower your voice and pretend to be working really hard when I walk by. I know it's possible to perform at a high level and have a little fun at the same time. Before I started acting all serious, I used to work that way, too. When you enjoy what you do it makes me feel a little better about our company and about myself. I get to feel like I'm part of something more than just a business.

4. I want to pay you more.

I would love to be the employer of choice in the industry or the area. I can't, mostly due to financial constraints, and if I own the business, because the risks I've taken require a reasonable reward. (If I go out of business tomorrow, you lose your job. That's terrible, I know. But I lose my business, my investment, my credit, my house . . . I could lose everything.) Someday, if you become a boss – or especially if you start your own business – I promise you'll understand.

5. I want you to work here forever.

Job-hopping may be a fact of business life, but as a boss it's a fact I hate. I don't see you as a disposable part. When you leave, it hurts. A part of me feels like I've failed. I want to run the kind of business people hope to retire from.

6. We sell what we can sell.

I know you despise filling certain types of orders or doing certain types of work. It's aggravating, it makes you fall behind, it makes it tough to hit your targets and goals . . . it's a pain. You wish we would sell other work. Unfortunately (from your point of view at least) sometimes the jobs that take the most time are actually the most profitable for our company. And even if they aren't that profitable, sometimes the least desirable work (from your point of view) is the only work we can sell. And sometimes we take terrible jobs because it's the only way to keep the lights on.

7. I would love to turn you loose.

You can't stand to be micromanaged. That's good, because I hate to micromanage. But freedom is earned, not given. Show me you can fly on your own and I'll gladly focus on something or someone else. In fact, if you feel I'm micromanaging you, tell me. Say, "I can tell you don't quite trust me to handle this well. I understand, so I'm going to prove to you that you can trust me." Pull that off, and not only will I get off your back, I'll respect you even more.

8. I do notice when others don't pull their weight.

I'm not blind. But I won't discipline anyone in front of you. Every employee, no matter how poorly they perform, has the right to confidentiality and privacy. And sometimes I won't discipline those people at all, because occasionally more is going on than you know. You wouldn't realise that, though, because oftentimes . . .

9. There are things I just can't tell you.

Even though I would love to, and even though you and I have become friends. Still, I can't. Especially if it regards other employees.

10. Leadership is like a smorgasbord of insecurity.

I worry about sales. I worry about costs. I worry about facilities and employees and vendors and customers and . . . you name it, I worry about it. So occasionally I'm snappy. Occasionally I'm distracted. Occasionally I'm tense and irritable and short-tempered. It's not your fault. I'm just worried. More than anything, I'm worried about whether I can fulfil the trust you place in me as your boss.


If you're a CEO/manager/supervisor, what do you wish you could tell your employees? What do employees want to tell the boss?


44 comments so far

  • I do all those things and more.

    One time I spent all weekend at the office fixing a mistake an employee made while out one night. They said something about a customer that was not flattering, that got feed back to the customer and I had to fix it. Then they wonder why on Monday I'm grumpy.


    Date and time
    January 15, 2013, 8:55AM
    • As a SME business owner and boss, I think this article pretty much sums up bosses who own their own company or business.

      There is not one point that is far off the truth.

      However, I'm not sure if it describes your run of the mill senior manager in a big company.

      Also, I'm not surprised to read the general tone of the the comments.

      The only thing I would suggest to those people, is, if you are not happy at work, stop complaining, and go start your won business.

      Dont go looking for a job, make your own job! Start a business. Do something. Anything.

      Then, you will find what was written in this article, to be the truth.

      At the end of the day, we are all judged by what we do, not what we say we could have done.

      The thing is, I still remember having fun at work. It was when I worked for a big company years and years ago, and it wasn't my house on the line.

      Kam i Am
      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 12:55PM
    • The average worker thinks they are better than the average worker.

      Herein lies the problem. Let the boss bashing begin - after all it must be all the boss's fault.

      Date and time
      January 16, 2013, 2:52PM
  • There are always exceptions - some are JUST EVIL!

    J S Bach Jr
    Date and time
    January 15, 2013, 9:54AM
    • Too bloody true! My husband's boss is a mongrel. He looks down his nose at his employees and doesn't have nice things to say about anyone. He runs the company like it's a hobby with an idea of the week and expects everyone to jump to it.
      He's full of how things were so good back in the distant past, yet times have changed and so has the business landscape. He doesn't see this.
      Some of the recent decision making has been appalling. He's substituted a family member with no management experience or interest into a very senior management role and expects it all to run smoothly. Things are not good from a workplace culture point of view.

      mum in the stix
      Date and time
      January 17, 2013, 2:30AM
  • This is true of competent bosses, who are decent human beings.

    This is not true of the imcompotent nasty bosses. They simply spend all their time guarding their position, be they found out.

    Date and time
    January 15, 2013, 10:01AM
    • From my experience this article is not true in any situation.

      I have been blessed to have had some truly excellent management in my career and some truly awful as well

      For the good ones, I knew they thought these things because they discussed them with me.
      For the bad ones, I think this is giving them way more credit than they were due. In some more credit than they would even give themselves.

      You can learn from both

      Date and time
      January 17, 2013, 9:58AM
  • what kind of fantasy boss is this?

    Like a boss
    Date and time
    January 15, 2013, 10:14AM
    • This "fantasy" boss is the one who employs the fantasy workers, you know, those that are loyal, always come to work on time, never take sick days, wouldn't dream of moving to other employment. Look in your carpark early in the morning and late at night. Who's cars are there, thats right the real managers and the fantasy employees. Managers are an easy target because their workers always know more, know better and could do the managers job much better, until, of course they become managers. Well good bosses do exist and good workers do exist, 'strangely' mostly in unison. I would not want my bosses job for twice his pay, is he perfect, no, are his staff, no. We expect far too much of people in management positions and the nearer the coalface the worse that gets. Direct supervisors of workers face intolerable pressure from above and below. There is always somebody sitting in the wings who knows better its like driving a car full of people all wanting to go to different places all at the same time, offering constant advice and criticism, too fast, too slow, wrong direction, using too much fuel, put the windows down, no we like them up. All of this usual from people who can't actually drive. Try it someday, you might want to keep the day job.

      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 12:31PM
  • Perhaps for some.

    Perhaps for others the list reads more like the following:

    1. I want you to be honest with me so we can have a good working relationship
    Read: Come on, I dare you to call me a nasty egotistical b******d to my face

    2. If you have any issues with (other staff members who are bullying or harrassing you), please come to me first and we can try to resolve it
    Read: I can say this and sound like a good guy, because I know that HR are going to take
    my side anyway because they are all scared of losing their own positions

    3. Due to budget constrains I can't give you a pay increase
    Read: You're not one of my favourites / one the boys, so take it or leave it

    There are some absolute shockers of bosses out there - one seriously wonders how these people are allowed to 'manage' people when their psychological profile reads more of a clinical sociopath.

    Date and time
    January 15, 2013, 10:45AM

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