March 8, 2016

My Advanced Arts Management class started last week and I have 60 students, both local and international. The A to Z is their text book and we’re going to start off each week seeing if there is anything that surprised them or that they disagreed with in the sections that I recommend. I’m looking forward to some robust debates.

There is only 1 heading under J: Job Satisfaction. Please let me know if you can think of other issues that I should have discussed under J. In the meantime, here’s an extract from the Job Satisfaction section:


“Adams (2007 reviewed 600 academic papers on job satisfaction and organisational productivity and concluded:

“When employees are encouraged to work autonomously, and are given greater control over their tasks, resources, time, interactions, and goals, they will perform substantially better, resulting in greater organizational performance. Consequently, managers need to learn how to encourage employee development by acting in a supportive, coaching or mentoring role, rather than as an overseer or administrator” (p. xvii)

Other researchers collected data from workers in 100 manufacturing plants in three countries and they also concluded that the closeness of the relationship between the employees and their supervisors was a significant enhancer of employee morale an important factor in worker satisfaction and productivity (McKnight,  Ahmad, & Schroeder 2001). By ‘close’, this doesn’t mean that you have to be your staff member’s best friend. But you do have to have an open and honest communication pathway and be capable of playing the role of mentor and advisor as well as boss.

One outcome of a lack of job satisfaction is absenteeism – why bother going to work if you hate it? Absenteeism tends not to be a problem in arts and cultural organisations because there is high commitment to the company. There will always be areas where some absenteeism occurs more often such as casual workers in more mundane jobs where the emotional connection with the company may not be as strong. But if you start to see unexplained absenteeism amongst regular staff, then you need to investigate.

The commitment of arts workers is often extraordinary. Actors for example, will often go on when they should be home in bed. I remember one actor who had food poisoning but was determined to perform. I came to the theatre, said I was willing to cancel the show (even there was a house of 800 people) but she insisted that she was ok. I went on stage to warn the audience that we might have to stop mid-show and offered them a refund if they wanted to leave but all them decided to go on the roller coaster. The actor arranged to have buckets on either side of the stage and another actor had a copy of the script and was lined up to walk on if required…which she was when the sick actor had to leave mid-sentence. A doctor in the audience raced off to the nearby hospital, came backstage at interval, re-hydrated her and the actor went on to finish the second half without missing a beat. This example could be considered an extreme version of employee involvement which tends to improve job satisfaction and organisational commitment (McShane & Travaglione 2003).

Whilst not every job is rewarding, every day, creating an organisational climate and culture in which people can want to come to work and get satisfaction from their job seems both ethical and practical.”



Adams, J  2007, Managing People in Organizations: contemporary theory and practice, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

McKnight, DH, Ahmad, S, & Schroeder, RG2001, ‘When do feedback, incentive control, and autonomy improve morale? The importance of employee-management relationship closeness’, Journal of Managerial Issues 13(4):466-482

McShane, S & Travaglione, T 2003, Organisational Behaviour on the Pacific Rim, McGraw Hill, Sydney