Job Satisfaction

What are the key factors in creating job satisfaction to keep people happy in the workplace?

How do you feel when you are continually stopped from achieving something? Do you feel frustrated, or annoyed? Of course you do!

You are trying to make a table in your backyard workshop, but the drill just stopped working, you have run out of sandpaper and your boss just called to ask if you can come into the office on your day off. Damn it! (Or words to that effect…)

Frustration and annoyance are the opposite of job satisfaction, of course, but looking at it from this point of view can actually expose the key to creating job satisfaction. If being stopped from producing something causes frustration and annoyance, what is at the other end of this scale? Production!

That key factor in creating job satisfaction is the achievement of production.

There will always be barriers that impede your progress, or prevent you from getting the results you are aiming for. That is life. The creation of job satisfaction, therefore, becomes a study in how to remove the barriers that are getting in the way. The question is: who should be removing these barriers? Should it be the employee, or the manager?

Some people do this naturally. They actually thrive on the challenges that confront them on a daily basis. Have you seen the sheer joy and exhilaration of an employee who has just managed to overcome some serious obstacles that allowed them to achieve a highly valuable result? Despite the things that seemed to be stopping them, they pushed through (or around, or under, or over…) and they made it happen! That is job satisfaction. And that is also workplace happiness.

However, only some of your people will have the ability to do this. Many require some help. They do not have the horsepower to overcome some of the obstacles and, if left to bang their heads against them for too long, they will eventually go down into frustration; not happy!

With these people, you have to help them push through those things that obstruct their forward progress. These obstacles include other employees, company procedures, lack of knowledge, etc. As a manager, you are in a much better position to remove such barriers, particularly if they relate to other sections of the company.

So, a very worthwhile activity for a manager is to monitor the progress of your people towards their goals and results, and to be aware of the barriers that may be frustrating them. Of course, this assumes that you and the employee both have a clear understanding of the job goals and the results they are expected to achieve.

Be careful, however! Do not be too quick to intervene with your top performers. Let them find the solutions themselves, where possible, otherwise you will be taking away the ‘game’. It is a delicate balance. On the one hand you want to rescue them before they descend into apathy about their job, but on the other hand you need to let your people achieve their wins.

One key distinction here is to look at the source of the barrier concerned. Does it come from some aspect of the employee’s job that they have the power to fix, or is it right outside their ability to control? Hold back on solving situations that they actually have the power to address, but act quickly to remove barriers that are externally imposed and over which they have little control.

You also have to realise that some people are actually not able to do their jobs; they are simply poor performers. With these people, removing barriers will only result in them leaning on you to solve all of their problems. In this case, it is time to review their value to the organisation in that particular position.

The most important part of this whole issue is achieving results. If an employee can blast through the things that are apparently stopping them, they will get a kick out of it and be very happy. If they are continually blocked by apparently insurmountable obstacles, they will eventually give up, because they are not achieving the results expected of them.

There is one final point to consider. If one of your top performers is overcoming all obstacles with graceful ease, it may be time to look at a promotion for them, or at an expansion of their role and responsibilities. If you do not, you may lose them, because the game has become too easy for them. There is no challenge left!

Neil Clark has spent 30 years as a manager in both large and small organisations in Australia and South East Asia. He can be contacted via , where more articles of this type can also be viewed.