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Employees view their culture much more negatively than management

Staff Writer |
A new study found a concerning gap between what managers say they want their company culture to be and what employees say is really valued by these same bosses.

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The study, conducted by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, cofounders and leading researchers at VitalSmarts, a TwentyEighty Inc. company, shows that while leaders say they want innovation, initiative, candor and teamwork, what employees feel is really valued is obedience, predictability, deference to authority and competition with peers.

Overall, the study, which surveyed more than 1,200 employees, managers and executives, found that employees have a much more negative view of their corporate culture than their bosses.

And, the more senior a person is in the organization, the more positive their perception of their company culture.

And these perception gaps matter — a lot. When employees believed that what was really valued was obedience, predictability, deference to authority and competition with peers, they were 32 percent less likely to be engaged, motivated and committed to their organization.

This perception also had a dramatic impact on their performance. They were 26 percent less likely to rate their organization as successful at innovating and executing.

Survey respondents were presented with 13 cultural norms and asked to identify which norms were most like their own culture. Employees and managers clashed on all 13 norms.

Overall, organizations have a lot of work to do when it comes to improving corporate culture. According to the study, only 9 percent of employees have a favorable opinion of their culture.

Managers and executives were slightly more optimistic with 15 percent reporting they viewed their corporate culture favorably.

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