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Build Your Career Office Life

Admit It: Hating Your Boss May Not Be So Bad

Admit It: Hating Your Boss May Not Be So Bad
Credit: Gonzalo Aragon/Shutterstock

If you don't get along with your boss, you're better off coming to terms with it, rather than trying to pretend that everything's OK, new research suggests.

Job performance and motivation improve when employees and their supervisors are up front about a bad relationship, according to a study recently published in the Academy of Management Journal.

"Seeing eye to eye about the employee-supervisor relationship is equally, if not more important than the actual quality of the relationship," Fadel Matta, lead investigator on the study and a management researcher at Michigan State University's Broad College of Business, said in a statement.

When examining 280 employees and their bosses, researchers found that motivation suffered when an employee believed he or she had a good relationship with the boss but the boss saw it differently. The same held true if the boss believed the relationship was good but the subordinate did not.

The study examined a wide range of employees, from cashiers to senior managers, in a host of industries, including automotive, retail and financial services. Researchers surveyed both the workers and their bosses separately, so neither knew how the other felt about them. [5 Simple Ways to Be a Better Boss ]

When the two saw eye to eye about the relationship, even when it was poor, not only was employee motivation higher, but the workers were also more likely to go above and beyond their basic job duties, the researchers found.

While it's human inclination to want everyone to like you, it's tough for boss to have a good relationship with every single employee, Matta said. In the end, it's most important that supervisors and workers don't misrepresent how they feel about their relationships.

"Some people would say it's better to fake it, but our results indicate that the opposite is true," Matta said. "At the end of the day, it's better for everyone to know where they stand and how they feel about each other."

The study was co-authored by Brent Scott, a professor at Michigan State, and Joel Koopman, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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