More on my lunch with Andy Rosen, who heads the U.S. compensation practice for ORC Worldwide, a big human resources consulting company. Most important, he didn't eat his coleslaw, even though it was excellent.
I was telling him that I have really valued bosses who emotionally engage with me in my work. Of course, it's entirely self-centered, but I tend to believe that the best bosses are those that facilitate the efforts of those producing the product or service. In the case of a newspaper, it could be the reporters, it could be the front-line advertising sales people, it could be the press operators or the truck drivers. Think about a call center -- the focus needs to be on keeping those operators cheerful and happy. In a factory, the equipment needs to be safe and maintained so the workers can produce.
Obviously people need to be paid, because, obviously, we all need to eat. Assuming reasonable and equitable compensation, I tend to think that appreciation goes a long way in satisfying employees. And this is what I mean by having bosses emotionally engaged. The boss looks, the boss sees and understands the effort, the boss appreciates it and expresses that appreciation. It's emotional.
Rosen said that a lot of the current research on employee compensation tied in with satisfaction makes a similar point.