We all enjoy a good gripe session over our bosses, but it turns out middle management may just get a bad rap. Researchers find that an average boss is worth more to the company than an average worker—1.75 times more, to be precise, a figure that matches the salary difference. At the Atlantic, Jordan Weissman is dubious about the findings, calling their logic "somewhat circular." Researchers made their calculations based on the notion that an employee's promotion to middle management stemmed from higher productivity.
But the study also finds justification for the idea of a good boss. Researchers studied nearly 24,000 workers; the subjects were asked to pursue the same task over and over again. Meanwhile, groups of workers switched bosses every four months. Turns out that some bosses did increase productivity compared to others—and if you replaced a boss in the 10th percentile of productivity with one in the 90th, it was like adding a 10th worker to a group of nine, Weissman writes. The secret, according to researchers: Two-thirds of increased productivity was attributable to a boss's ability to teach employees new skills.