Quality Progress - October 2013 - 46

Career Corner BY HenrY J. LindBorg The Dilbert Syndrome Ways managers can cure survey cynicism among employees The DilberT comic strip is one of the Management’s 2012 survey, “Employee Culture of complaint best satires on workplace cynicism. It Job Satisfaction and Engagement: How If unaddressed, distrust of senior portrays a white-collar, micromanaged of- Employees Are Dealing With Uncertainty,” management can generate a case of fice featuring the engineer Dilbert as the found two of the top five factors influenc- real-world employee cynicism: negative main character. In a recent strip (below), ing job satisfaction were relationships with attitudes and disparagement based on Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss is pictured immediate supervisors and communica- the belief that the organization lacks reporting annual employee satisfaction tion between employees and senior man- integrity.4 A “culture of complaint” that is survey results at a meeting. Then, Dil- agement. Relationships with immediate resistant to the communication required bert’s boss assures staff that management supervisors affect an employee’s quality of for strategic change, enterprise risk man- will never get such a low score again. The work life, but communication with senior agement, ethics and continual improve- final frame of the comic strip shows how: leadership makes an impact on employees’ ment may emerge.5 The CEO cancels all future employee contributions to organizational agility. satisfaction surveys. I thought, “That could be a tempting 1 According to a recent study examining Employees’ opinions about top management are ever relevant for quality corporate effectiveness, “Agility is not managers. Special challenges may arise way to handle negative feedback for just the ability to change. It is a cultivated when it’s time to partner with human some managers.” The comic strip targets capability that enables an organization to resources and conduct an employee satis- an important issue and the response it respond in a timely, effective and sustain- faction survey. When attitudes toward may evoke. In recent years, employee able way when changing circumstances leaders are negative, how should the mes- satisfaction surveys for a number of my require it.” Agility is critical for long-term sengers—the quality managers—avoid clients have pointed to a disconnect success and it guides an organization’s the scenario presented in the last frame between top management and staff. Poor identity and strategic intent. It promotes of the Dilbert cartoon? There are a num- leadership scores in employee satisfac- conditions under which “information ber of things they can do to best handle tion surveys suggests leaders may not flows easily, in both directions, between these sensitive situations: have the capacity to drive ongoing and both the bottom and the top of the orga- 1. Pay careful attention to survey effective strategic change. nization.”3 Agility cannot flourish in an design, interpretation and deploy- atmosphere of distrust. ment. Nothing is worse than putting The Society for Human Resource 46 QP • www.qualityprogress.com 2 http://www.qualityprogress.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - October 2013

Up Front
LogOn
Expert Answers
Perspectives
Keeping Current
Mr. Pareto Head
5S Shakeup
For the Greater Good
Turned On
Get There Faster
Career Corner
Standards Outlook
Quality in the First Person
QP Toolbox
QP Reviews
Back to Basics

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