Funny Bosses Are Better Than Honest Ones, According To Workers' Poll
An honest, open, respectful boss is nice and all, but employees care more that their manager is a good jokester, according to a new poll. Over a quarter of respondents said the ability to make them chuckle was the best way to create a good boss-employee relationship, and 50 percent more women said this than men.
Twenty-six percent of the 600 employees surveyed by officebroker.com, an agency that helps businesses find office space, said humor was the most critical characteristic for a good boss. That beat out:
- trust (20 percent).
- respect (15 percent).
- patience (13 percent).
- fairness (10 percent).
- open communication (9 percent).
- honesty (7 percent).
And of all the employees who chose comic ability as the most important trait, 60 percent were female. It's interesting that humor should be a higher priority for women, since women are seen as less adept at humor in an office setting, at least according to a study by Judith Baxter, a scholar at Aston University. She analyzed 600,000 words spoken at board meetings at seven top British companies, and found that 90 percent of men's witty remarks got a laugh, while 80 percent of women's jokes received a big, awkward silence.
If getting titters out of your employees is a manager's most valued skill, and women are way worse at it, it seems that the female half of the species is at something of a disadvantage. But another poll of 2,200 employees, by About.com, found that fairness and not funniness was actually the most desired trait in a supervisor.
It's not clear which gender has a monopoly on justice in the workplace. Psychologist Carol Gilligan found that, in general, men are more likely to stand on principle (no, it's not OK to steal a drug you can't afford, to keep your wife from dying), while women were more likely to use compassion (save your wife from dying!).
Fairness, it seems, might be just as subjective as humor.
What traits do you think are most important in a boss?
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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