Why Managers are Happier than Non-managers

9501964248_a388be25a8You can be happier in whatever job you have. You don’t need to be at the top of heap to enjoy what you are doing. That may sound surprising, especially given that a recent Pew Research Center survey (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/01/09/why-its-great-to-be-the-boss/) found that managers are more satisfied with their family life, jobs, and overall financial situation than non-managerial employees are. Here’s what we have learned about what drives happiness and how you can thrive.

Use of talent drives happiness.

 Our surveys show a very close link between the amount of talent people have an opportunity to use and their level of job satisfaction. The happiness gap between managerial and non-managerial employees has more to do with the kinds of work people get to do. Bosses tend to take on bigger challenges and use more of their talent. For that, they receive bigger paychecks. It’s not the paycheck that underlies happiness, but rather the individual’s experience that they are using themselves well.

Why many non-managers don’t want to become managers.

 Interestingly, Pew reports that 43% of adults say they would not like to become a manager compared with 39% who say they would. If being a manager creates more happiness, why do workers feel mixed about advancing?

Many more people could become managers and enjoy doing it, IF they could figure out how to navigate some of the challenges of being a boss. One of the most frequently mentioned challenges is giving candid and constructive performance feedback, especially to people who have been peers. They worry about the potential conflict and pushbacks that they might endure.

An effective approach for feedback from managers to employees is Intention, Observation, Request, and Confirmation. Let’s look at an example of a manager frustrated with late reports. Rather than avoid the issue or blow up, here’s a productive path. A clearly stated intention creates a bridge with the other person and establishes a solid foundation for communication. For example, the manager might say to the employee, “Each person on this team has an important role to play. We value your role in completing timely data summaries for our reports and want you to succeed.” Next, is a non-judgmental observation about behavior and results. For example, “When we received your data late, the rest of team didn’t have sufficient time to prepare and polish a quality report for a key decision.” Follow this with a clear request, “Please review your workload, and let’s brainstorm any solutions needed to ensure timely completion of tasks.” Conclude with a clear confirmation of your agreement such as “OK, you’ll send me a copy of your workload and schedule by next Tuesday, and we’ll review it together on Thursday at 1 p.m.”

This example illustrates how simple tools can open the rewards of management and better quality results to more people. As employees learn how to use more of their talent, both they and their organizations will enjoy the results.

Photo by: Salfalko

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Posted in Talent in the Workplace, Uncategorized

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