THURSDAY, Sept. 26, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Professionals' job satisfaction, performance and pay can suffer when clients don't understand what they do, according to a new study.
"If people don't understand what you do, they tend to devalue what you do," study co-author Michael Pratt, a professor of management and organization at Boston College, said in a college news release. "They don't understand why you're making all this money -- 'Why should I pay you all this money?' is a common question these professionals keep hearing."
Pratt and his colleagues looked at people in four professions: 24 architects, 13 nurse practitioners, 17 litigation attorneys and 31 certified public accountants. In most cases, these professionals had to educate clients about the type of work they do and to manage "impracticable" and "skeptical" expectations, according to the study in the August issue of the Academy of Management Journal.
"Image discrepancies" occur in these four areas and in many other professions, the authors pointed out in the news release.
For example, Pratt said, "Architects are being told, 'All you do is draw lines, sketches and pictures all day. What do you actually do? You don't build anything. Why should I pay you all this money?'"
Nurse practitioners are also often devalued, he noted. "Nurse practitioners can actually examine patients and prescribe medication, but you'll get a patient in there saying, 'I don't want to talk to you, I want to talk to a doctor.' They won't tell the nurse practitioner their problems; they won't let themselves be examined," Pratt said.
This lack of understanding among clients can have a major effect on professionals' levels of job satisfaction and their pay. For example, potential clients might decide to use a contractor instead of an architect or go to a doctor instead of a nurse practitioner.
"I assumed professionals would actually get over it, that there would be frustration, it would be an interpersonal problem, and that would be the extent of it," Pratt said. "I didn't think it would have such a big impact on how they did their job, how it affected their pay and how they performed. I was surprised at the depth of how this affected job performance. It's not simply annoying -- it has real impact," he added.
USA.gov has more on workplace issues.