Monday, December 5, 2011

When Employees Talk and Managers Don’t Listen

by Virgil R. Carter

According to a recent article published in the Journal of Business Ethics, and written by Gerdien de Vries, Karen A. Jehn and Bart W. Terwel, dangers lurk if suggestions from employees are sought but are considered.

Managers may operate in an autocratic (making unilateral choices) manner or a democratic (inviting employees to  suggest improvements) way.  Research has shown that motivation, job performance and morale increase when employees have the opportunity to contribute their concerns and ideas.

The authors write, however, that there’s “a consequence to giving employees a voice:  a company has to listen.”  If employees believe that a manager is simply paying lip service to consulting with employees, and has no desire to act on their advice, they are likely to stop offering input and, worse, “act out their frustration by clashing with colleagues.”

Conversely, according to the authors, employees, who thought their managers were paying attention to the employees suggestions and comments, “spoke up more often and got along better with one another, improving the organization’s functioning as a whole”.

The article’s conclusion?  “Giving employees the opportunity to voice their opinions can be a positive force for change.  But don’t put out a suggestion box if you aren’t willing to implement at least some of the suggestions”.  

For a full copy of the article, go here:

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