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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

Free Food's Great, But People Would Give it Up in Exchange for a Better Boss

There’s always something that drags our day down—a cranky co-worker, a noisy office, a boatload of demanding emails, rain, snow, getting attacked by a pigeon, I could go on forever.

So, we wanted to know: What’s one thing that would make every day better? In fact, we asked our fellow Musers (a.k.a., you!) to pick one thing that would make their work day a heck of a lot more enjoyable—a better boss, fewer emails, a private office, or free snacks. And the results, polled from 234 users on Twitter, were fascinating:

According to this, most people would choose to have a better boss over any other benefit we offered up—proving to employers that it’s not all about the perks.

In addition to this being interesting (and making me question how much I love free food), it also made us realize that the struggle is real when it comes to enjoying work when your manager is just meh. So, we wanted to go ahead and help you out if you find yourself in the same boat as our Twitter poll-ees.

First, figure out the disconnect. Is it a communication issue? A personality difference? An unfair system? Identifying this will make the next step easier.

The next step being that you need to get honest with your boss (in a professional manner). Yes, you have the authority, as well as the responsibility to start a conversation with your supervisor and come up with a better system for yourself—and for him. Remember that this person is human, and chances are he didn’t hire you just to make your life a living hell. Most managers want to help their employees be happy and succeed, because it means they’ll be happy and successful, too.

So, make an effort to develop a relationship filled with open communication—try scheduling weekly or monthly meetings to update each other on what’s working (and what’s not), then ask for regular feedback in these meetings so you can nip any bad habits in the bud or find out if there’s any miscommunication happening. Maybe your boss sends you confusing email responses because you’re not asking your questions clearly. Or maybe she’s not assigning you big projects because you regularly complain about how much is currently on your plate.

If regular meetings just aren’t feasible, make sure to use your next performance review to voice concerns you might have—big and small. Get clear on your upcoming goals and get as much as possible in writing so it’s easy to follow up. Lastly, you can even try managing up to make both your lives easier without her even knowing.

Having a not-so-great boss stinks, but it’s also very common (as shown by this poll). Rather than wishing on a lucky star that you’ll be handed a perfect one, there are ways to improve your situation now.

And if none of the above strategies work, we know of about 10,000+ job openings. (Just make sure to ask yourself these questions before you start interviewing to ensure you’ll be a fit from the start.)

And good news for the people who chose the other perks, we didn’t forget about you—look here if you want to receive less emails, here to create your own private office even in an open workspace, and here to make your own delicious office snacks.

Are none of these the thing that would turn your day around? Tweet us your answer!

Photo of boss in meeting courtesy of Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images.