Breaking Down Misperception

Maintaining a positive workplace atmosphere is vital to success. It promotes efficiency, reduces employee turnover, and just makes things better. However, assessing the health of corporate culture is so difficult because there is often a massive disconnect between managers’ perception and employees’ point of view.

The Corporate Culture Chasm survey questioned 1,200 participants and concluded managers have a much more positive view of the workplace than their employees. This is incredibly insightful, because although there’s so much literature detailing the significance of a happy workplace, those who need it most don’t know they need it—and if they don’t know they need it, they will never attain it. So much for ‘ignorance is bliss,’ huh?

This all said, fear not. Employers can bridge the gap, and better understand the perspective of employees (even if employees are not always so inclined to voice their honest opinion). Here’s what has worked for me to get everyone on the same page:

Balancing Innovation with the Status Quo

Although most managers will claim they value their workers’ insight, the fact is they don’t. When asked which norms reflect company culture, 54% of employees stated they would choose to avoid conflict in order to maintain a positive relationship.

The same group also expressed that agreeing with others and gaining their approval are significant for being liked. Just as well, they were also 53% more likely than their leaders to say conformity was important in company culture.

This boils down to a simple fact. Employees felt that going to work meant following rules. This is troublesome for a number of reasons, the most important being that adhering to norms does not foster innovation. In today’s competitive marketplace, innovation is more important than ever.

Overcome this by cultivating conversation. Encourage and listen (not hear) to what employees at all levels have to say. Once workers see you are valuing their input, they will be more forthcoming, more open, and ultimately, more beneficial in general. Set an example and the rest will follow suit.

Understand Teamwork and Competition

In the survey, and in most offices, there was (is) a severe disparity between how both employees and managers perceive competition and teamwork. Where most managers see teamwork as an integral aspect of company culture, workers see competition.

This misperception has the capacity to wreak havoc on a workplace’s atmosphere because it means employees will actually be less likely to help each other.

In order to prevent this plague of a misperception, leaders should focus on improving both individual and team performance. If incentives are awarded for team performance instead of just on an individual basis, then workers will see the value of working together and not against each other.

The main takeaway from all this is leaders need to put themselves in their employees’ shoes. They need to establish an open dialogue free from punishing judgments. Only then will both employees and managers play for the same team and work together toward the same goal—profit.


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