Can Managers Create Satisfied Employees?

In the book Organizational Behavior, the column “Managers Can Create Satisfied Employees” caught my eye. It’s a Point vs Counterpoint column that follows a chapter on job satisfaction and how it effects productivity, turnover, and even customers.

The Point read:

A review of the evidence has identified four factors conducive to high levels of employee job satisfaction: mentally challenging work, equitable rewards, supportive working conditions, and supportive colleagues. Importantly, each of these factors is controllable by management.

The Counterpoint read:

Unfortunately there is a growing body of evidence that challenges the notion that managers control the factors that influence employee job satisfaction. The most recent findings indicate that employee job satisfaction is largely genetically determined. … Given these findings, there is probably little that most managers can do to influence employee satisfaction. … The only place where managers will have any significant influence will be through their control of the selection process.

In my experience, I’ve found that both are necessary for an effective team; it’s not an either-or argument. By effective, I mean satisfied and productive.

There are people who naturally seek challenges, are always learning new things, and have a hopeful, positive outlook on their future. A rare few are even able to self-motivate. If you hire only such people (assuming they fulfill your other requirements), you’ll no doubt have a satisfied team initially.

But if you don’t actively keep them engaged with challenging work, appropriate rewards, and a supportive environment, a competitor will easily lure them away. As a manager, you have the ability to reshape the environment. If you don’t create a healthy one, a competitor will.

Effective organizations are the ones that can hire the right kinds of people -and- keep them satisfied & productive.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

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