Disagreement in the workplace is typical and does not necessarily lead to a decrease in productivity. But what if you believe your organization fails to adequately support your work team, while your manager thinks he or she is doing a fine job? According to new research (Banshur, Hernandez, & Gonzalez-Roma, 2011), this scenario could lead to poor productivity and poor attitudes.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT
Researchers extensively surveyed bank employees at well over a hundred bank branches and made several important findings about perceived organizational support, which is whether employees or managers believe that the organization is doing everything they can to ensure the success of the team. This may include providing needed resources, additional training, or simply showing they care about the efforts and success of the team. When teams perceive organizational support, they feel the need to reciprocate by increasing productivity, and will also experience “positive affect,” which basically means they will be in a good mood.
DISAGREEMENT ON LEVEL OF SUPPORT
But the authors found a problem. When there is a discrepancy between the manager’s perception and the rest of the team’s shared perception of organizational support, negative consequences could occur. Specifically, when managers think that organizational support is high, but team members feel it is low, this leads to lower productivity and generally bad moods. This is because the manager may appear out of touch with reality, leading to frustration and tension for the employees. When the scenario is reversed, and the manger thinks support is low while team members feel it is high, negative outcomes are also possible. For example, the manager might proscribe unneeded additional training, which could also be a source of frustration. Still, the effects are not as severe as in the first scenario.
The researchers also found that it is always better for team members and mangers to agree on the perceived level of support, even if they are agreeing that support is generally absent. Of course, the best situation is when they agree that organizational support is strong. This scenario leads to the most favorable work outcomes, such as high productivity, prevalence of good moods, and infrequent bad moods.
So how can this work for businesses? The obvious offshoot is that organizational support is so important that even mere perceptions of its absence can be detrimental to real, measured outcomes. Even further, the authors illustrate the importance of managers maintaining an accurate assessment of the attitudes and beliefs of their employees. This is only possible through good communication. Even in a situation where employees feel the organization has left them hung out to dry, the manger’s acknowledgment and agreement of the dire situation can be crucial in ensuring productivity doesn’t slip any more than necessary.
Bashshur, M.R., Hernandez, A., & Gonzalez-Roma, V. (2011). When Managers and Their Teams Disagree: A Longitudinal Look at the Consequences of Differences in Perceptions of Organizational Support. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(3), 558-573.
Image credit: istockphoto/fizkes