You’ve been at your job nearly five years now, and are still making just above minimum wage. You’ve had one sick day, and only because your ill daughter needed a parent at home.

Finally, you gain the courage to subtly mention the hope of a raise, and the boss promises the pay hike will take effect in a month. But it doesn’t, and you figure it never will.

Your boss may be among the nearly 40 percent who, according to a new study, don’t keep promises.

The survey, conducted by Florida State University College of Business Associate Professor of Management Wayne Hochwarter, and two doctoral students, surveyed 700 people from a variety of jobs. The study focused on how bosses treated employees, and concluded the poor management resulted in numerous problems for companies – including poor morale, less production and higher turnover.

Marsha O’Neil will soon be looking for the perfect job, and she knows exactly what she’ll be seeking in a boss after she spent time in a manager’s position at a California convenience store.

“I don’t want a boss who stresses out the employees when it isn’t necessary,” said O’Neil. “The hardest part of a job is being uncomfortable at work, dealing with the migraines from something that’s really nothing.”

O’Neil feels it is extremely beneficial and equally important for job applicants to interview the prospective boos, in a respectful, interesting way.

“Get a feel for their attitude and their morale,” she suggested. “If they don’t seem interested in knowing you as a person, or if you walk away from an interview with a feeling of untrust toward the person who could be your boss, chances are you won’t make it at the job.”

And O’Neil knows when she walks away from an interview whether she would truly survive in that workplace.

“I’ve had interviews before where the person asking the questions - a lot of times, the boss - makes inappropriate jokes about other employees’ incompetence,” she said. “That’s a sure sign you don’t want to work there.”

Hochwarter told LiveScience.com not only do many bosses fail to keep promises, more than 25 percent of them make negative comments about them to other employees or managers. This has had a significant impact on many employees.

“They say that employees don’t leave their job or company, they leave their boss,” Hochwarter told LiveScience. “They [employees] were less likely to take on additional tasks, such as working longer or on weekends, and were generally less satisfied with their job. Also, employees were more likely to leave if involved in an abusive relationship than if dissatisfied with pay.”

The results of the negativity from a boss, according to the study, can include more exhaustion, tension on the job, nervousness, depressed moods and mistrust.

“It’s hard - really, really hard - to be a boss and never have a bad day,” said O’Neil. “In fact, it’s probably impossible. There were days when I was running the [convenience] store that I wanted to just go off on a shouting match with an employee, but once I had a year’s experience or so, I realized they are just as human as I am, and if I wouldn’t tolerate my boss treating me in that manner, they wouldn’t tolerate it from me.”

Tahlequah Lumber Co. Manager Randy Skinner, who was voted Tahlequah’s “Best Boss” in the 2006 Tahlequah At Its Best poll, likes to see employees treated with respect throughout their stay in a particular job.

“We like to treat everyone with respect, all the way up until the time someone might have to be fired,” said Skinner. “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect; you don’t have to cram it down their throats.”

Skinner feels employees at the lumber company have a sense of camaraderie and family.

“Everybody tries to generate a sense of family among employees,” he said. “People like to feel good about going to work. We’ve got a lot of people who kind of refer to it as their family.”

According to the local poll, Cherokee County Assessor Erlene Luper is also considered one of Tahlequah’s best employers. As a boss, she simply refers to a sort of golden rule.

“I just try to treat them like I like to be treated,” said Luper.

The assessor has only six employees, but all have been a tightly knit group for years.

“We’re pretty much [like a family],” she said. “We’ve all worked together a long time.”

But when the mood seems a little negative at the workplace, Hochwarter said frustrated employees should remain optimistic.

“It is important to stay positive, even when you get irritated or discouraged, because few subordinate-supervisor relationships last forever,” said Hochwarter. “You want the next boss to know what you can do for the company.”

When it comes to what potential employees are seeking, the equation is simple.

“I think they want someone they can go to, to talk to about any problem,” said Luper.



Did you know?

Results of the study conducted by the Florida State University also show:

• Thirty-seven percent of employees said their supervisor failed to give credit when due.

• Thirty-one percent said their supervisor gave them the “silent treatment” in the past year.

• Twenty-seven percent said their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers.

• Twenty-four percent said their supervisor invaded their privacy.

• Twenty-three percent said their supervisor blamed others to cover up mistakes or to minimize embarrassment.

The findings are scheduled to appear in the fall 2007 issue of “The Leadership Quarterly,” a journal aimed at consultants, managers and executives.

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