Tag Human resource management

In Business or Politics, Dissent Is Not Disloyalty

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.” ~ Edward R. Murrow

Edward R. Murrow used these words in a broadcast of See It Now that aired on March 9, 1954, to criticize Senator Joseph McCarthy and the tactics that he used during the Second Red Scare.

While Murrow was trying to point out that Senator McCarthy was making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, and treason without any real evidence in the public sector, the quote can also be useful when thinking about “office politics” in the private sector.

The Role of the Devil’s Advocate

In his book, titled “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions,” (affiliate link) Guy Kawasaki talks about the history of the devil’s advocate and how it can relate to business.

In a post on the Harvard Business Review blog, which appears to be an excerpt from the book, Kawasaki writes, “A devil’s advocate who argues against what management says is a good person. He or she will improve your product or service by pointing out weaknesses, foster internal communication because disenchanted employees have someone to talk to, and show that rocking the boat and divergent thinking is acceptable.”

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You

You need to keep in mind, though, there is a difference between disagreeing with your coworkers because you believe that you are correct (and, hopefully, have evidence to support your opinion) and outright saying that you won’t do something because you are too lazy to do it.

Saying that you won’t do something just because you don’t want to do it, in my opinion, is a completely different issue.

In an article on Inc.com, Jeff Haden gives some solid advice regarding this issue.

Haden writes, “Get over your cocky, pretentious, I-must-be-free-to-express-my-individuality self. Be that way on your own time. The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the right to dictate what you do and how you do it–sometimes down to the last detail.

“Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do,” he continues. “Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.”

Final Thoughts

In business or politics, the fact that we can disagree and debate the issues often leads to the best solution.

Therefore, fostering a work environment that gives employees the opportunity to voice their opinions without negative repercussions will, in the end, benefit the business because it will help the business create better products and services.

Furthermore, having employees on staff who are willing to play the role of the devil’s advocate is important for the long-term success of any business.

Employees need to keep in mind, however, that while healthy debate should be encouraged, the business is ultimately paying their paycheck. Therefore, at the end of the day, what management says to do is what should be done.

As an employee, you still have the right to say no, particularly if you think that what management is asking you to do is unethical. However, in that case, management has the right to replace you with someone who is willing to do what is asked of them.

What management needs to remember, though, is that while they ultimately get to call the shots, dissent is not disloyalty.

Photo credit: LisaAuch on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Insights From the SHRM 2011 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey Report

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2011 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report, 83% of U.S. employees were at least somewhat satisfied with their jobs in 2011.

While the percentage of employees who are satisfied with their jobs has been trending downward since 2009, the percentage of satisfied employees reported in 2011 was still slightly higher than the percentages that were reported from 2002 to 2008.

However, this doesn’t mean that companies can rest on their laurels.

In fact, as I pointed out in the last post, maintaining high levels of employee job satisfaction may be more important for companies now than it was in the past.

Aspects of Job Satisfaction Most Important to Employees

The SHRM study found that the aspects of job satisfaction that were most important to U.S. employees in 2011 included: Job security, opportunities to use skills and abilities, the organization’s financial stability, relationship with their immediate supervisor, compensation/pay, benefits, communication between employees and senior management and the work itself.

Given the recent economic conditions, it’s not surprising that job security and the organization’s financial stability were among the aspects of job satisfaction that were most important to U.S. employees in 2011.

It’s also not surprising that compensation/pay and benefits ranked high on this list since they have been among the most important job satisfaction contributors for many years. However, at 53%, the percentage of U.S. employees who said that benefits were very important was lower in 2011 than it has been recent years.

In contrast, the percentage of U.S. employees who said that opportunities to use skills/abilities is a very important aspect of job satisfaction has been trending upward in recent years.

Employee Job Satisfaction Levels

Knowing what aspects are most important to employees is only half of the equation.

You also need to know how satisfied employees are with each aspect and then compare that to their respective importance level.

Aspects that are very important to employees but rank low on employee satisfaction are the aspects that companies should take a look at and try to improve on in the future, if possible.

According to the SHRM study, less than three of 10 U.S. employees reported being very satisfied with their organization’s financial stability, job security, benefits, communication between employees and senior management, and compensation in 2011. And, if you recall, these were all among the most important aspects of employee job satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

As the SHRM report points out, there are many factors that influence employee job satisfaction and engagement, including restructuring, demographic makeup of the organization, change in management, economic change, political change, global change and many others.

While companies have no control over some of these factors, there are things that they can do to mitigate the negative effects that they have on employee morale.

The SHRM report suggests that HR professionals help their organizations cultivate a culture that promotes employee engagement and job satisfaction through policies and practices, training line managers to better communicate their company’s mission and vision, and involving line managers in the organization’s strategic planning.

It is also suggested that organizations conduct their own employee satisfaction and engagement surveys to measure how well they are doing and then benchmark their results against other companies of a similar size within their industry.

I’d suggest checking out the SHRM report in its entirety, as it is filled with other valuable insights and information that can help your company make better decisions in the future.

Photo credit: seanhagen on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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