All of our readers agree that a good boss is something to treasure. But can management and employees agree on what constitutes a good manager? And there’s even less reader agreement on free trade. Some say it is bad for the country, others say it is good for consumers and businesses. What do you say?

 

Hoping for a good boss
A good boss can definitely make a significant difference in the performance of a department (“Now There’s Proof: Good Bosses Make a Difference,” Leland Teschler’s Jan. 8 blog). I have had several bosses in my career who were leaders. You wanted to work for them and not fail or disappoint them. Generally, these people were incredibly capable and gave you responsibility, trust, and support when you needed them. When a task was successfully completed, a simple thank you for a job well done went a long way. Many bosses just can’t bring themselves to say something nice and always feel they must push, push, and push. That attitude is less successful than trust when working with professional and creative engineers.

Donald Dillard

Good bosses DO make a difference based on my experience. I have worked for several micromanagers and one outstanding boss who gave me the freedom needed to develop a new technology. My productivity (and job satisfaction) was two orders of magnitude greater under him than under the micromanagers. I felt much more empowered and willing to work extended hours for years on end. He let me create and tackle real challenges (setting my own budget, priorities, and schedules in the process), and as a result, I accomplished far more of strategic value for the organization. Everyone ought to enjoy that level of trust and freedom at least once in their career to know how much fun engineering really can be.

Robert Bailey

While I tend to believe what the study has confirmed, I would also say that what is presented here is pretty much common sense. Good bosses paired with good employees tend to be more productive. This is not rocket science and I wonder how much money went into this “study.” If I had financed it, I would call it a loss because there doesn’t seem to be any information presented that isn’t already known.

The study also seems biased toward the service sector and does not cover jobs most engineers (at least mechanical and electrical) participate in. The editorial does not mention manufacturing, construction, pharmaceutical, or other types of positions which require heavy research and design, the so-called project-based disciplines.

So although the sample size sounds large enough from which to draw conclusions, it is flawed due to the small section of the engineering work force sampled, i.e., “service sector.”

Donald Geranen

Is free trade really free?
Thank you, Mr. Teschler, for your editorial. (“Thank God I am not a Free Trader,” Jan. 17). Actually free traders should be called “free traitors.” The reality is that fair trade, not free trade, is the only answer.

The U.—S. Constitution charges Congress with the duty to oversee t rade between s tates to make sure it is fair. They also have the duty to oversee trade across our national borders to ensure the “common welfare” of our people. A few multinational corporations and a few highvolume shareholders of such companies do not constitute the majority, although they do contribute the majority of the money D.—C. politicians rely on to get reelected.

The number of jobs at every educational and skill level needed to produce a given good can be incredible. Right now we need every one of those jobs, especially as Congress and the President are currently working on plans to allow 11—million mostly low-skilled illegal workers to gain citizenship. Those jobs mean digni t y for some workers and their families. Those jobs also mean goods will be purchased from small businesses in local communities. Those jobs mean revenue or taxes needed to defend our nation will be paid. Honestly, those jobs are the very backbone of the American Way.

Congress should in no way impede the efforts of ea c h American to gain from their own industriousness. Current trade laws kill that industriousness. Congress, do your job!

Mark Roth

This editorial is absolutely spoton. Those in favor of the current unbalanced situation are those who are reaping the financial benefits thereof, while our manufacturing base as a whole is gutted. I am totally in favor of international trade, but the current enormous and one-sided trade deficit shows that we have long been in a trade war, and losing badly. There should be an even playing field, and that will only come when our government levies duties that put imported goods at least in the ballpark with domestically produced goods.

Mark Miller

Being antifree-trade is simply being pro-your-industry-of-choice with no respect or consideration for consumers or buyers. The reason certain industries get outsourced is because production costs are lower elsewhere. Lower production costs make goods more attractive to consumers and often keeps shareholders happy.

Most people and businesses buy goods, and free trade benefits them. Protectionism hurts those who buy goods by keeping production costs high when they could be reduced by outsourcing. Protectionism can protect jobs, for a time, until workforces are phased out by mechatronics and other manufacturing processes designed to lower production costs.

Yes there are fewer manufacturing jobs in the U.S. today than there once were. Although that i s seen as a problem to some, exporting labor has benefited nearly everyone else. Nobody is entitled to a job. It is the duty of every would-be worker to tailor their skills to the needs of the market, not to tell the government to penalize efficiency which happens outside the U.S. in the manufacturing industry.

Instead of penalizing efficiency and value, the U.S. should develop policies that make it attractive to manufacture products in the U.S. again. The cost of employing U.S. labor is prohibitively high due to government policies aimed at protecting workers. These policies do their jobs so well no company is willing to risk hiring them.

John Fortis

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