Perception is Reality

Shawnee Love   •   February 28, 2019

I am taking a hiatus from our blog series on HR in family business to reflect on the drama unfolding in Canadian federal politics.  When faced with the former Attorney General’s testimony that she faced intense pressure and veiled threats from the Prime Minister’s Office the Prime Minister (and boss of the Attorney General) responded:

“I strongly maintain, as I have from the beginning, that I and my staff always acted appropriately and professionally, and therefore I completely disagree with the characterization of the former attorney general about these events.”

While I am curious on his definition of “appropriate” or “professional” and the omission of “ethical” from his statement, I am not investigating that situation.

However, after doing many investigations into bullying, policy breaches, and conflicts of interest, I have notice many accused will take a similar position as the PM by disagreeing with the complainant’s perception of events.

There are two truths which undermine this defense:

  1. Perception is reality.  People believe what they experience, but what they experience occurs through the lens of their beliefs, prior interactions, past history, and expectations.
  2. A boss has power over an employee’s livelihood and future.  Thus, anything a boss says or does has greater impact.  I.e.,  a boss’s criticism is louder, opinions carry more weight, and suggestions have more pressure.

Bosses have to be cognizant of these two truths and adjust their behaviour accordingly if they want to get the best from their employees.  Come back next week to learn how to have challenging discussions with employees without resorting to or being perceived as issuing threats.

By |2019-02-28T19:40:17+00:00February 28th, 2019|Leadership, Management|