Your employees have a secret. They don’t love you and your organization as much as you think they do.
A February 2009 survey by salary.com suggests that employers underestimate how many unsatisfied employees they have and overestimate the number of extremely satisfied employees nearly 2 to 1. This could be happening for one of two simple reasons.
First, you don’t have a basic measure of job satisfaction. As I have written here before, a simple measure of employee satisfaction and commitment is one of the most useful pieces of information an organization can have. If you are not measuring this on a regular basis, I think you are making a big mistake. If you contact the College of Business at your state’s major university you can probably find someone that will help you do this for free.
Second, your insistence on having a positive work environment is blinding you to reality. If you systematically eliminate the folks that don’t absolutely conform to your desired image of perfection, the ones that are not your true sycophants will learn to appear as if they are when you are around.
Is there too much pressure to be positive at work? Timothy Judge and Charlice Hurst raise this interesting question in their chapter in the book Positive Organizational Behavior. If your company is paying big bucks for an employee engagement program, you are going to have a hard time avoiding the very real pressure to be positive.
Positivity has considerable merit. But how you pay attention to the negative is one of the most important ways you can make things more positive. Treat negativity, resistance, and withdrawl as symptomatic rather than problematic and you have a powerful opportunity to learn and improve when things are not quite right.
Embrace the creative tension that exists in the gap between your aspiration and your reality.
About the Author: Bret L. Simmons
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