Management Humor:  Is Supervisor Humor
                      Associated with Job Satisfaction?

Your supervisor is really funny.  He has a knack for seeing the irony in everyday
experiences.  During meetings, he shares amusing anecdotes.  Everyone laughs a great deal
at the meetings.  Most of your coworkers say they like their job very much.  Could their
satisfaction with their job be due to the supervisor's use of humor?
Decker (1987) found that a supervisor's perceived sense of  humor was positively
correlated with people's job satisfaction.  A supervisor's use of humor could lead to job
satisfaction for several reasons.  First, using humor may result in the work environment
being perceived as cheerful, fun, friendly, and relaxed.  Second, a funny supervisor could
be more motivating, which could increase job performance.  If job performance is
increased, job satisfaction could also be increased.  Decker (1987) found that a supervisor's
perceived sense of humor was also positively correlated with how motivating he or she was
perceived to be.  Third, a funny supervisor could be perceived to be easygoing, which
could result in employees being less worried about receiving a negative evaluation from
their supervisor.
However, we cannot make causal conclusions about management humor from these
correlational findings.  Decker (1987) found that how friendly the supervisor was perceived
to be was positively correlated with perceived sense of humor.  It's possible that friendly
supervisors are more likely to use humor and increase job satisfaction, but the use of humor
is not causally related to job satisfaction.
 There may be some limitations of management humor.   Although using humor may be a
good idea for supervisors, they need to careful to use only humor that is appropriate.  Some
types of humor, such as hostile or offensive humor, would be inappropriate.


Decker, W. H.  (1987).  Managerial humor and subordinate satisfaction.  Social Behavior
and Personality
, 15, 225-232.
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