We’re betting that your execs and managers would say they’re extremely open to employees’ ideas and suggestions for innovations. And we’d also wager their underlings would say the opposite is true.
Those suppositions are confirmed by a recent study from HR consulting firm Development Dimensions International entitled Creating the Conditions for Sustainable Innovation.
The study focused on ways to make companies more nimble in their ability to compete in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.
But it also holds some valuable insight for HR pros — because as you well know, high on the list of the things key to employee engagement is workers’ feeling they’re a vital part of the operation and that their ideas and input matter.
The DDI report, which canvassed about 500 execs and managers and an equal number of rank-and-file employees, indicates a very real disconnect between how managers and workers view the communication process.
By the numbers
Check it out:
The researchers asked if managers “demonstrate unwavering openness and appreciation for unique ideas and opinions.” Almost eight in 10 managers (78%) said they did; only 43% of employees agreed.
Do managers “guide employees who fail or make mistakes to reframe the experiences as learning opportunities”? Again, eight in 10 managers said yes; 47% of workers agreed.
Do managers “urge employees to continually expand their understanding of business trends and emerging issues”? Yes, said 77% of the bosses. About half (51%) the workers agreed.
Do managers “champion the merits of employee-initiated ideas to senior management”? Three-quarters (75%) of managers said yes, while 42% of the employees felt the same way.
And finally, do managers “encourage active and passionate debate about the merits of new concepts”? You can guess the answers: 71% of managers said yes, just 41% of employees agreed.
What have we learned? Here’s a summary from the DDI report: “Most leaders feel they excel at the behaviors that lead to higher levels of innovation. But employees don’t see their leaders the way leaders see themselves. From the employee viewpoint, leaders struggle to inspire curiosity, challenge current perspectives, create the freedom to innovate and drive discipline.”
In other words, managers aren’t encouraging employees to take an active role in trying to improve company performance — and aren’t paying much attention to the ideas they do hear.