Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
There are two kinds of bosses, according to this research. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Want to be happier at work? A study by four economics professors has some surprising findings on how to make it happen.
This isn't a small, "improve happiness by 5 percent" finding. In fact, employees reported an increase in reported happiness similar to what they would have if they'd doubled their household income, according to the study.
Writing for the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the professors—three from Canada and one from South Korea—analyzed the responses of 38,000 workers to the Gallup-Healthways Daily Poll, which is a daily survey of hundreds of adults on many different topics.
Two questions in the daily poll are especially relevant here:
one has to do with people's general overall life satisfaction, and
another has to do with their relationships with their supervisor at work.
By combining the answers that thousands of people gave to both of those questions, and correlating them with millions of other responses that allowed them to control for respondents' personalities and even the days of the week on which they answered the questions, the researchers came up with a surprising but compelling conclusion.
Across the board, people who said they felt like their relationship with their work supervisor was more like that of partners, as opposed to one in which they felt like their supervisor was more of a traditional boss, were likely to report much greater life satisfaction.
The findings go deeper. Researchers found that the effect was greatest when employees were in their 40s and early 50s. That's intriguing for two reasons.
First, for most people, if you chart life satisfaction on average by age, you'll see it forms a rough "U" shape.
People have relatively high life satisfaction up until their 20s and 30s. Then it drops during middle age as they are likely to be dealing with competing demands between work and family.
Then, it rises again as children grow up and they can start to see a future beyond work. That means that for middle-aged workers, the benefit of the partner boss relationship came right when they needed it most.
Second, workers are largely at the apex of their productivity and expertise at right around this stage. That means they can benefit most from this "boss as partner" paradigm right at the point when they have the most to offer at work.
Another compelling finding within this part of the report:
Two-thirds of workers reported that they in fact had a good situation: they said they worked for partners, rather than bosses.
Maybe two-thirds of bosses already follow this "partner" paradigm. Or perhaps more likely, workers gravitated toward the work situations and bosses that had the most positive effect on their overall life satisfaction.
Put differently, if they had partner bosses, they stayed. But if they had boss bosses, they didn't just suffer in silence.
Instead, they tried to move on. And by and large, you can imagine that it was the most successful and useful employees who found it easiest to find new homes.
The paper was authored by economists John F. Helliwell and Max B. Norton of the University of British Columbia, Haifang Huang of the University of Alberta, and Shun Wang of KDI School of Public Policy and Management in Korea.
And, it's fairly easy to determine whether a boss is likely to be perceived as a partner or a traditional boss. Partner bosses who are also effective leaders are more likely to:
Share their vision, and ensure that workers understand how their daily work fits into an overall plan. This also means celebrating wins.
Respect other people's time. For starters, no needless meetings without agendas.
Set priorities and make decisions. Because if everything is a priority, nothing is.
Share information liberally. Yes, there are times when a boss has to keep confidences. But the bias should be toward sharing.
Demonstrate empathy. This includes offering sincere thanks.
Accept blame and sharing credit.
Model ethical behavior. Clearly.
Personal note: Lord knows I try to do well, but I don’t know if I’m the best boss in the world. However, I realized after writing this newsletter that almost every day I email, text, and/or do video calls with Tom in Maine, who proofreads and does a lot of other great behind-the-scenes work on the newsletter.
How do I tend to refer to Tom if I don’t call him by his first name? Nine times out of 10: “partner.” At least I’ve got the language down.
7 other things worth knowing today
Month old, but: Elon Musk's college girlfriend auctioned off his old birthday cards, photos, and a gold necklace with an emerald from a mine his father once had an interest in. Total haul: $165,000. Jennifer Gwynne, who dated Musk from 1994 to 1995 at the University of Pennsylvania, said she decided to sell after realizing that one of Musk's old exam bluebooks and a paper he graded as a teaching assistant sold for $7,750. (Artnet)
I guess this is not Good News Monday: Nouriel Roubini, a NYU economics professor and CEO of Roubini Macro Associates known as "Dr. Doom," predicts New York City will be destroyed by nukes and storms in the next 20 years. (NY Post)
Photos and satellite imagery from the central United States show how the region’s worst drought in at least a decade has pushed the Mississippi River and its tributaries to drop to record lows this month. (CNN)
There are currently only 4 U.S. cities where the average American can afford a starter home: Detroit, Tulsa, Memphis, and Oklahoma City. “The starter home market has become increasingly difficult over the past 20 years,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. This has created a “social divide” between homeowners and non-homeowners, who “simply feel like they cannot catch up.“ (CNBC)
Hyundai, Korea's top automaker, is investigating child labor violations in its U.S. supply chain and plans to "sever ties" with Hyundai suppliers in Alabama found to have relied on underage workers, the company's global chief operating officer Jose Munoz told Reuters on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Colleges that ditched test scores for admissions find it’s harder to be fair in choosing students, researcher says. (Hechinger Report)
Guinness world record: Most consecutive times shooting an arrow through a keyhole. (YouTube)
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Me! I wrote about some of this before at Inc.com. See you in the comments!