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30 September 2011Lions led by Donkeys

Matthew de Lange

by Matthew de Lange

A great piece in last week’s Economist (The view from the top, and bottom) really caught my eye.  It’s based around a recent report by BRG into corporate culture in the US which flags massive differences in perception about the business between bosses and staff.

For example, 41% of managers think their firm rewards performance based on values rather than merely financial rewards.  Only 14% of staff do.

This has huge relevance for Metafore’s work on Employee Engagement.  It certainly helps explain why it is often harder to sell the need for what we offer to the senior buyers than the more junior contacts we sometimes start with.

It also bears directly on why we think it is so important to “do” engagement more bottom up than top down. Sometimes this can be because senior management need to be helped to understand the reality within their organisation. But it can also be the other way round.

Those 41% of senior managers are not necessarily wrong and the 14% right. For most of us there is a deep-seated belief that the view from the trenches is truer than the view from above; we are lions led by donkeys!

So starting the Engagement process within the trenches forces the “troops” to articulate some of these assumptions and let’s some light and air in for all to explore what the reality is. That leaves senior management in the more constructive role of supporting or challenging the more considered views which emerge rather than merely offering more well-intentioned grist to the “what-do-they-know-about-it” mill in the trenches.

Economist article can be viewed at  http://www.economist.com/node/21530171

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