Survey reveals most unusual requests from bosses
During a memorable scene from the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly asks her assistant Andrea Sachs to get her twin daughters the latest, unpublished Harry Potter manuscript for their trip to their grandmother’s. Priestly tells Sachs that if she doesn’t accomplish the seemingly impossible task, “Don’t even bother coming back.”
While that may seem like an outlandish order only found in the movies, many workers across the U.S. have been asked to do some pretty crazy – and at times potentially dangerous – things for their bosses. According to a new CareerBuilder study, nearly one in four workers (23 percent) report that their bosses have asked them to perform tasks that are not related to their jobs.
The national survey, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive from February 11 to March 6, 2013 and included more than 3,600 U.S. workers across industries and company sizes, asked workers to reveal some of those ridiculous requests, as well as what they really think about their bosses.
Spying, surrogacy and stitches
You may get annoyed when your boss asks you to grab lunch for her while she’s in back-to-back meetings, but that pales in comparison to what other workers have had to endure. Workers surveyed share the following real-life examples of the most unusual requests they received.
Their bosses asked them:
- To be prepared to delete all emails and computer files at a moment’s notice*
- To be a surrogate mother for her — more than once*
- To spy on senior management
- To buy a rifle for him, and he would reimburse the employee
- If she knew of anyone who could “hook him up” with illegal substances
- To go online and post false good comments about him*
- To come up with a science fair project for her daughter
- To fire his (the boss’s) brother
- To lend him $400 for a down payment on a car
- To remove her stitches*
- To be better friends with him
- To scour an abandoned office building for furniture and supplies they could use
- To bail another co-worker out of jail*
- To clip her dog’s nails
- To help plan her wedding*
Grading the boss
Extreme requests aside, many workers do have good relationships with their superiors; 64 percent of workers report they respect their bosses. When asked to grade their boss’s performance, the majority — 66 percent — gave an above average rating:
- A – 26 percent
- B – 40 percent
- C – 20 percent
- D – 9 percent
- F – 6 percent
Yet it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to how workers view their managers. Just 37 percent say that they learn from their boss, and 32 percent believe they are smarter than him/her*.
Communication is key
No matter how you feel about your boss, it’s to your professional advantage to have a good working relationship with him. That starts with communication. If you don’t think you’re learning as much as you could from your manager, set up regular meetings to discuss his insight on current projects or issues. If he’s assigned you a task that sounds suspicious, address your concerns. Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, says, “If your boss is asking you to do something outside of your scope of work responsibilities, it’s important to have open communications around what is appropriate.”
*Responses from a separate CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive November 2012 survey of more than 3,500 U.S. workers.