Yesterday, CNNMoney.com published an article titled "CEOS earn 343 times more than typical workers" - an attention-getting headline to say the least.

The figure comes from a measurement by the AFL-CIO of CEO salaries at 60% of the firms traded on the S&P 500; the average pay (salary and bonus) of those included was $11.4 million in 2010, up 23% from the previous year. Wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was used to determine "typical worker pay" - $33,190 for all occupations in 2009.

The disparity between executive and non-executive pay is nothing new, though the gap has actually grown smaller in the past couple of recession years as the bottom 50% of taxpayers total income has increased overall while the top taxpayers' income shrank. (CNNMoney.com, 04/07/11)

Ironically, the same day as the article about CEO wages came out, so did a Monster.com survey of job seekers on their site, called "Could You Outperform Your Boss at His or Her Job?" According to the Monster survey, over 69% of U.S. respondents think they can.

It's easy to argue that there are several reasons for these poll results:

  • It's a safe bet that those people visiting the Monster site are looking for jobs and likely dissatisfied with their current employment situation.
  • Some high-profile execs, especially in the financial, automotive, and energy sections, have had a tough time with negative perception lately. Perhaps the "bad juju" has been projected onto other bosses as well.
  • Employee morale took a real hit during the recession years as companies cut back on perks and staff and more work was shuttled to fewer people. It's natural that employees would feel upset at that situation (and take it out on their bosses). It's also probable that bosses became overwhelmed during this time of stress and didn't perform as well as when everything was hunky dory.
  • It's simply much more fun to slam your boss (especially when no one can trace it back to you) than to not, isn't it?

It's also possible that bosses just aren't as great as they used to be. Employees change jobs with much greater frequency than they used to. The days of lifetime loyalty to one company – and rising through the ranks to an earned management position – are virtually over. With such turnover and turmoil, manager effectiveness is bound to suffer. There's less time spent getting to know a company and be engrained in its culture. There's less continuity with an experienced staff who know their jobs inside and out.

Also, in many companies, managers are increasingly getting in the trenches and doing the same work their staffers are doing – leaving them less time to focus on good management.

In another bit of irony, CareerBuilder came out with a survey just two days before Monster, its primary competitor in the marketplace, that may further explain Monster's poll. The CareerBuilder report explains that 25% of managers surveyed said they weren't ready to become the boss when given the responsibility. This can be attributed to their lack of developed management skills. (CNN.com, 04/18/11)

The survey respondents identified their areas of greatest struggle as follows:

 

What do you think?

Is your boss a superstar or a slacker? Do your staff members have the right perception of your abilities? How much is your response to the above questions tied to the current state of the economy and negative press of other companies’ execs?

Let us know!