Boss's Day Truth: Being the Boss Sucks.

Let’s be honest: Boss’s Day is a strange notion. Supervisors, managers and executives generally make more money and have more autonomy – so why do we have a compulsory holiday to celebrate them? (U.S. News and World Report, among others, has said we shouldn’t celebrate “this crock of a holiday.”)

We don’t recommend mandating gifts or parties, but Boss’s Day is a good time to acknowledge a simple truth: Being the boss can suck.

An elevated title usually comes with elevated pressure. Research from Columbia University showed that managers were 50 percent more likely than blue-collar workers to report symptoms of depression. A study of 3,000 managers in Norway identified their four most significant stressors to the position:

  • The job itself – the work requirements facing the manager;
  • The emotional strain – anxiety and fatigue;
  • How to handle increasingly challenging work – more projects, harder projects or longer hours;
  • Conflicts between the demands of work and family/leisure.

From our experience, we’d add a few more to the list:

  • Management is lonely. You can’t get too close to your direct reports, so depending on the size of the organization, managers may lack friendships or social bonds at work.
  • Exempt employees are never really off the clock.
  • Middle managers can be put in the awkward role of buffering between top leadership and the rank-and-file.

It’s no wonder, then, that two-thirds of workers say they don’t want to be in management.

Being the boss is hard, depressing, lonely and nonstop. So forget the balloons and cake: What should we do, on Boss’s Day and every day, to acknowledge the individuals we have entrusted to lead us?

PayScale’s Career News blog had some fine ideas:

  • Take your one-on ones seriously: “If you love your boss, chances are that he or she makes time to meet with you one-on-one. Make the investment worthwhile by coming to the table with a list of things you’d like to discuss . . . using your boss’s time wisely is the best gift you could give them.
  • Plan for difficult conversations instead of springing them on your manager: “Choosing a time and place to discuss [challenging issues] is essential.”
  • Forgive them for being human: “Give them a break . . . We all have bad days.”
  • Trust them with tough feedback: “If you see the potential holes in a plan, say so . . . prevent your boss from making a mistake that will cost them professionally.”
  • Say thank you: “If your boss has done an exceptional job . . . tell them so. They’ll appreciate it a lot more than they would a World’s Best Boss mug.”