Volumes have been written about the practice of Management, its various styles and how to get staff to work more productively. Much less has been writen about managers from the “view from below” that needs looking at and can play a significant role in organisational success. It is easy to think that because a person is employed by someone or a corporation that he/she loses perceptive cabability and bosses lose out on an important cog in the wheel of corporate turning when staff views find no place of resonance or are witheld under the gusie of cooperation and docility in order to please the boss.
Make no mistake the office attendent or sales people for example, are sources of important information. They interact with customers during deliveries etc. and see reactions and hears comments about the organization. Public Relations could benefit from such information, conduct surveys and work towards an improved or corrected image. Image sells!
Creative ways must be sought to collect and work with the information from non-decision making staff that benefits the organisation. These staff are cunning: they withold critical information if a boss is a poor listener, not tactful or too hard-fisted or arrogant. Check on how many ground breaking ideas did not even come from experts in the pertinent fields! Recently a second grade school teacher in America came up wth Airbourne Formula, a dietry herbal supplement, which is now widely used.
People of all walks of life who fill the office as staff have valuable views. More ways of tapping into them need be sought. The “water cooler talk” approach is one such way but there are more. Organisations need to find them. In addition a process of how to work with the information gleaned for validation, taking action or ignoring has to be devised. More Managers must recognise they have no monopoly on ideas, but a respnsibility to test them for validity, usability or otherwise.
Back to the idea that staff often withold vital information: they ofen think it may not be recieved or the boss is too arrogant to share it with him. Let the chips fall where they may! Even children use this technique: a child once said to his mother “My teacher refused to take up my late sit test becase she said I had put it in my bag so she didn’t know wheter I looked in the textbook to furnish the answers. Fact is she left me alone with the bag and the test and went somewhere. When I did not see her return and school was dismissed I put the test away and was leaving when she came and found me, the test put away and I about to leave. Why did she leave me alone when I could have been looking in the textbook for more than twenty minutes then refuse to take up the test because I had put it in my bag? It makes no sense!” Well of course he could not share that perspective with his teacher so he remained quiet. He was punished and believed to have little sense. The teacher did not imagine how well he read the situation and how unreasonable he thought she had been. He longed to move up to the next class.
As with children, many non-decision making staff often look for a route of escape, so they won’t have to share, if they think their view will not be received. However their perception of the manager is often well formed and with evidence to support it! Managers beware, viable ideas are not the exclusive domain of those who walk the corridors of power. They are also in your offices sitting in unsuspecting places or maybe driving your trucks!