Perception is reality...or is reality perception? Regardless of semantics, perception and reality seem to go hand in hand. In life as well as the workplace, one common reality is impossible. There are just too many people. Each individual person you meet has their own unique view of the world - their own personal paradigm - from which they see reality.
In everyday life it’s fairly easy to navigate these many realities. You have a reality of your own, and through your experiences and connections you consciously and subconsciously refine your own perception of the world, and therefore your reality. If you meet someone who doesn’t jive with your personal reality, you can move on with your life, chalking it up to a lack of meshable paradigms.
In the workforce however, navigating the many individual realities is much more difficult.
Managing personalities is hard, but managing realities is near impossible. There isn’t much you can do when a colleague or subordinate holds a paradigm that’s out of alignment with your own paradigm or the values of your company. Or maybe it’s your paradigm that’s out of alignment with your colleague, subordinate, or the values of your company...don’t be afraid to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.
Regardless, multiple unmeshable personal realities within an organization is the quickest way to corrupt its culture. But the fact of the matter is that there will be many personal realities within your organization, and therefore many perceptions of you, your management style, and the company as a whole.
So, how do we manage something that is nearly impossible to manage? Simple really, but oh so hard to adhere to. Give your employees a voice, or at least the perception that they have one.
Giving your employees a voice is the linchpin that holds together previously unmeshable paradigms and unmeshable perceptions of reality. "Giving your employees a voice” means listening to their suggestions. It means listening to their questions, concerns, comments, feelings, and overall views of your personality style as well as the direction of the company.
Giving your employees a voice means making concessions and finding a middle ground on certain topics. Look, you don’t have to bend the direction of your company or change your management style based on the will of the masses, but you should also make your employees feel like they have input. Make them feel like they are being heard.
Reporting directly to a leader with a vision is hard. Time is limited, patience can wane, and focus is spread between many moving parts. Often times it’s natural for a leader of this calibre to move quick, cut to the chase, and expect immediate results based on their requests. And sometimes that can rub employees the wrong way. People want to be mares, not gophers.
Unfortunately for these employees, a company needs people to take direction and move fast. But, one thing that a leader I know did very well was listen to me. We would sit down to have planning meetings, and although my suggestions, questions, or concerns might not change his mind or the business' direction, he would often respond with “that’s a good idea,” or “I’ve never looked at it that way.” That’s all, and it’s that simple. Those little phrases were enough for me to believe that I had input in the company, that I had ownership.
The ultimate goal is a culture of shared buy-in from your colleagues and employees. Running an organization full of people who buy into your vision, direction, and management style is an organization on a path to group success.
So help your company buy-in by giving them a voice. Make them feel like they are purchasing something that they own.
- Employees want to feel like they have input
- They ultimately want to feel like they have some control over their role and ultimately their lives
- It is possible to make your employees feel like they have input into the business without bending your will to theirs
- Giving your employees a voice, or making them feel like they have one, is the quickest way to promote organizational buy-in
- Buy-in across an entire organization naturally breeds a healthy culture focused on group success