Are Managers Responsible for Making Everyone Happy?

When conducting a workshop over the weekend, a participant expressed her appreciation for the focus on workplace civility. As a first-line manager, she felt pressure from a pervasive expectation that her job was to make employees happy. She noted that in the world of community libraries, employees were overworked, underpaid, over 50, and female. It was beyond her capacity to make them all happy.

She thought there was hope for helping them become civil.

First line managers have a clear role for creating conditions that encourage job satisfaction and work engagement. These qualities are tied closely to the job. Job satisfaction reflects the job situation. The space, materials, pay, and relationships at work have a lot to do with employees’ level of satisfaction. Similarly, work engagement reflects the nature of work: the extent to which it is energizing, involving, and confirming employees as capable of doing meaningful work.

Happiness is something broader.

Happiness reflects more than work. But work is an important part of the equation. Although a well-managed work setting is not sufficient on its own to produce happiness, a poorly managed worksetting may get in the way of people finding happiness in their lives.

An especially valuable contribution of a well-managed worklife is the presence of civil, respectful relationships. They bring a sense of belonging that not only increases employees’ c commitment to the place and engagement in their work, but also contribute to a sense of contentment and peace.

So, managers are not responsible for making everyone happy. But they can make a difference. They can insist that civility and respect are active values in the life of the workgroup.

  • Model civility and respect in their interactions with others.
  • Respond clearly when incivility and disrespect occur.
  • Monitor the quality of working relationships through surveys and careful listening.

CREW is effective at helping workgroups improve the quality of their working relationships. It combines all three of these action points.

Leave a Reply