Letter From the Editor

Robert Schork on picking this year’s “Best Bosses.”

Kvetching about your boss is a perennially popular topic around the water cooler. The ubiquitous notion of the horrible manager is as old as the hills (ever heard of Ebinezer Scrooge?) and is furthered as an archetype in modern pop culture. From The Simpsons’ Mr. Burns and Family Guy’s Carter Pewterschmidt to 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy, and, in my line of work, The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly, there’s no shortage of poster boys and girls for bad bosses.

But poor management isn’t just fun fodder for fiction—it has real-life, bottom-line consequences for business. The cost to the US economy from lost productivity thanks to the ramifications bad bosses have on their businesses (everything from sick time taken by employees for both feigned and real stress-induced illnesses to decreased efficiency from low morale and motivation to legal troubles) has been estimated to be $360 billion annually. 

That cost is compounded by the price of turnover when dissatisfied and dispirited employees reach their limits and fly the coop. Several studies, including a Gallup poll of more than one million employed US workers, have shown that people quit their bosses, not their jobs. In fact, a bad boss is the number-one reason people leave their company for a different employer—not pay. The price tag for recruiting, hiring, and training new employees is blinding. A report by The Rainmaker Group estimates the cost of replacing an employee ranges from half to five times the employee’s annual salary. Yikes!

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So all of this got us thinking: There just had to be some bosses out there who are respected, admired, and adored by their subordinates, leading their troops on the charge to success for their companies—we just needed to look for them. We didn’t even need to look far. Late last year, we held an open nomination process online, in which employees could nominate a County-based boss, and Westchester’s workforce heeded our call loud and clear: We received nearly 100 nominations; from them, we selected 17 “Best Bosses” for our cover story (page 36).

Truth be told, we were originally aiming for about a dozen, but the quality of the nominations was so high, the idea of trying to narrow it down that far quickly became a fool’s errand. What struck me the most during the selection process was the earnestness and “heart and soul” with which several of the nominations were imbued. One nominator wrote that his boss “is the best boss I ever had. He is someone I would love to be in a foxhole with any day.” A nominator of another boss revealed that his boss “took me off the streets and gave me an opportunity that nobody else would. He taught me everything he knew, and constantly and relentlessly pushed and pushed and pushed until I was working 18-hour days with two newborns at home trying to become something of value to my children. I am now in one of the highest positions in this company with a salary, car, and two beautiful little girls. I could not have grown into the man and father I have become if [he] did not believe in me.”

No matter where on the totem pole you happen to be at your company, we hope you find these stories as inspiring as we did.

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