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Not only is a good boss worth quite a lot, but so is an average one, according to this study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Measuring daily productivity of 23,878 workers and 1,940 of their supervisors at a large services firm over five years, researchers from Stanford and the University of Utah found that the best bosses increased their work group’s productivity so much that nine people were doing the work of 10. In other words, the boss’s efforts represented the work of two. And even the average boss was 1.75 times as productive as the average worker — which, they also note, was in line with the average pay differential.
What made the best bosses so effective was their ability to teach their teams skills that persist. That may be why the researchers also found that good bosses increased the productivity of high performers more than poor workers, leading them to recommend that the best bosses be reserved for the best teams. Bad news for the slackers.
High GDP usually goes hand-in-hand with thriving populations. But not in Hong Kong, whose GDP is second only to Singapore among developed Asian nations. In the face of competition for jobs from mainland immigrants and rising food and housing costs, fully two-thirds of workers described themselves as struggling in a recent Gallup poll. Even worse for future economic prospects, Gallup suggests, less than half consider themselves “extremely productive in their current jobs,” ranking Hong Kong dead last among all the 22 Asian economies surveyed.
Looking at small children in the playground, it’s sometimes hard not to see cooperation as a (rather thin) veneer of civilization stretched over a self-centered heart of darkness. But new social science research involving thousands of participants suggests people’s first impulse is toward selflessness. When participants were given the choice to keep a sum of money or contribute it to the common good, the more quickly they decided (or the less time they were given) the more likely they were to donate. It was stopping to think that encouraged selfishness.