The Leadership/Employee RESPECT Disconnect

SMM Staff

Leaders like to talk about radical changes and employee-centric practices, but the reality is there is a strong disconnect between how leaders perceive their organization’s RESPECT levels and how their employees view them, authors Jack Wiley and Brenda Kowske say.

When they asked senior executives whether their organization provides the elements of RESPECT, 69 percent of them said “yes.” When they asked the same thing of individual contributors (non-management), only 52 percent of them agreed, revealing a 17 percentage point gap between how leaders believe their organizations behave and how employees view the situation.

The authors say this could signal that conditions for management are good at most companies, while the conditions for non-management aren’t up to snuff. It could also signal that leaders simply don’t have a good feel for what’s going on in the trenches.

The discrepancy exists in all seven RESPECT categories. The two biggest management/employee RESPECT disconnects — with gaps of 19 percentage points each — are in Excitement and Truth in the workplace. More than three-fourths (76 percent) of senior leaders find excitement in their work, compared with just 57 percent of non-management employees.

Asked whether statements by senior leaders are credible, only 66 percent of executives said yes. That’s right: fully one-third of senior leaders don’t believe the truthfulness of the public statements coming from their own leadership teams! It comes as no surprise, then, that only 45 percent of non-management employees believe their executive leaders’ public statements.

“Too many people are working in organizations in which leaders think they are progressive, but in fact they are not,” Wiley and Kowske say. “Deluded about the environment they’ve created for their employees, leaders aren’t being realistic about the structures and processes in which employees work. This disconnect is the single biggest obstacle holding back organizations’ transformation from being bureaucratic to being dynamic.”