Do Your Employees Always See Things The Way You Do?

I was having lunch the other day and was eves-dropping on a conversation in the next booth a couple of managers were having about one of their employees. I will not bore you with all of the gory details but the one comment that stuck me was when one of the managers said "His perceptions are just wrong." I guess he has never read one of my 60 plus books because one of the concepts I cover in each of them, but in different ways is that, no one's perceptions are wrong but they are their.

You see perceptions are the result of many things; Attitudes, education, gender, age, cultural background and so on. So if I have a perception based on my beliefs, values ​​expectations etc it may not mirror your perception but mine is NOT WRONG. It might be different than yours but it is mine. Yours is NOT RIGHT but it is yours.

Let's refer this to a simple everyday occurrence in almost every organization, the misunderstanding of directions or instructions.

Manager: This is the way I want you to do this.

Employee: I understand. (Keep in mind that the employee is filtering these instructions through their own personal and unique mental perceptual filter.)

Manager: When can I expect the report?

Employee: Next week.

Manager: OK (Again keep in mind that the manager is filtering the employees answer through their filter as well and their perception of next week could be anywhere between Monday and Friday but most likely early in the week)

Employee: Great, I'll get it to you next week. (Next week to them could again be anywhere between Monday and Friday but I'll bet they are thinking more like Thursday or Friday.)

Both of you have just been set up for frustration, stress, disappointment or even failure. And it was not an intentional breakout but a breakdown in perceptual interpretation by both of you.

Your expectation for the report on Monday or Tuesday is not wrong or right and their expectation that you get it Thursday or Friday is also not wrong or right. Both of you are entitled to your perceptions. No one is wrong.

But here's the problem. Sooner or later there is going to be a conflict between you and your employee regarding each of your perceptive expectations. This conflict could have been avoided by saying that either of you are wrong and digging in your heads but by clarification with citing or questions by both of you to eliminate the possibility of confusion or misunderstanding. What you are doing is getting clarity in the situation even though you both have different mental filters and see the situation accordingly.

I will tell you that almost all conflict, mistakes and misunderstanding in the corporate world whether between employee and employee, manager and employee or employee and customer are the result of different perceptual interpretations and not getting clarity before moving on.