I recently heard a segment on the radio in which listeners submitted questions that they would ask their spouse or significant other anonymously. The submissions ranged from, “What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told your spouse?” to things much more scandalous. My first reaction was that if you have to ask your spouse anonymously, then the level of trust and honesty in your relationship isn’t as good as it could be. Yes, honesty is the best policy, and in a relationship, two people would ideally be completely honest with each other, but…relationships don’t always follow the ideal. This leads me to another avenue: one’s relationship with one’s supervisor. Employees: Do you think your boss is always completely honest with you? (And are you always completely honest with your boss?) Supervisors: Are you always, 100% of the time, completely honest with your employees? Call me cynical, but I would suspect that sometimes the truth is bent or manipulated to maintain diplomacy or political correctness, or to allow others to save face. It’s a lot easier to tell someone that they didn’t get a bonus because there wasn’t enough money, rather than that it was because that person did a poor job this fiscal year (though this explanation might be a mistake for other reasons). Again, is honesty the ideal? Yes. But is there a place for white lies or bigger if it means less workplace drama? And even if this is wrong, does it happen anyway?
I would posit that, regardless of how you feel about the morality of this practice, it probably happens anyway in some, if not most, workplaces. So what questions would you ask your boss anonymously?
Here are a few to think about:
“If you could replace me with zero red tape and headache, would you?”
“Do you push all of your employees to the same extent, or is the bar (unofficially) set in different places for different people?”
“If I left the federal service for another job, for what reason would you least want to see me leave?”
“Who in your management unit would you most like to see quit, and why?”
I find that thinking about these actually makes me think about what kind of employee I am, and how I can be a better one. Because while I do want to know the answers to these questions, it wouldn’t be such a great feeling to discover, for example, that one’s supervisor would replace them if given a red-tape free opportunity to do so. On the other hand, it might be nice to know that the boss sees something in you and therefore pushes you a little bit harder than the clock-watcher in the next cubicle who leaves the office five minutes early every day.
What questions would you ask your boss anonymously?
Erica Bakota is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.