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Don’t Like Your Boss? Don’t Fake It

Don’t Like Your Boss? Don’t Fake It

Don’t particularly like your boss? A new study shows that it’s counterproductive to “fake it.” In fact, your job performance can actually improve once you and your boss see eye-to-eye about your relationship.

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

He noted that past research suggests workers and their bosses often have differing views about the quality of their relationships. That why he and his research team set out to examine whether that affects actual work engagement or motivation.

It does, they found.

According to the study of 280 employees and their bosses, motivation suffered when an employee believed he or she had a good relationship with the boss, but the boss saw it differently.

The finding held when the flip side was true and the boss believed the relationship was good, but the employee did not, according to the researchers.

The researchers found that employee motivation was higher — and the employee was more apt to go above and beyond his or her basic job duties — when the worker and supervisor saw eye-to-eye about the relationship, even when it was poor.

The researchers surveyed both sides separately, meaning the boss did not necessarily know how the employee felt about him or her, and vice versa.

The study included a wide range of employees, from cashiers to senior managers, in a host of industries, including automotive, retail, and financial services.

“It’s nearly impossible for a supervisor to have a good relationship with every employee — there’s only so much time and so many resources a boss can invest toward that goal — but at the same time it’s human nature to want everyone to like you,” Matta said.

“Some people would say it’s better to fake it, but our results indicate that the opposite is true,” said Matta. “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 published in the Academy of Management Journal.

Source: Michigan State University

Serious discussion with boss photo by shutterstock.

Don’t Like Your Boss? Don’t Fake It

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Don’t Like Your Boss? Don’t Fake It. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 22 Nov 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.