People’s behavior in an organization setting is a crucial study as it can decide the fortune of the organization. Robbins and Judge (2017) stated that the behavior is based on their perception of what reality is, not on reality itself. This might be the concept behind the saying that “perception is reality”. Instead of the reality, it is the perception of reality that largely influence how an individual makes decisions and the quality of the decisions. This article will examine employee perception and how managers can take proactive actions to manage it.

Employee Perception

Ivancevich et al. (2013) define perception as a cognitive process of how a person selects, organizes, and gives meaning to environmental stimuli. He stated that each individual’s perception is subjective and empirical, based on the prior experience of the individual. It means that every person can have a very different perception of the same thing. This perceptual subjectivity can lead to perceptual errors and bias that can be harmful to an organization and society in general.

In an organizational setting, the way employees perceive things is an important aspect that must not be disregarded as it not only affects their work behavior but also influences job satisfaction, performance, and turnover (Ivancevich et al., 2013). Although early studies suggested that there is little to no relationship between employee work perception and performance, more recent studies, which is superior to the previous studies in term of the construction of the research and the accuracy of the measurement accuracy, shows a considerable positive correlation between the two variables (Harter et al., 2010).

The problem with it is that managers can develop a completely different work perception from their own employees. A survey by VitalSmarts shows the disparity between employees’ and employers’ perceptions of various norms (Straz, 2016). Employees may perceive their leaders as managers who really appreciate obedience to existing rules, while the manager said that they push their employees to innovate. The leaders may perceive their team as teamwork oriented, while the employees perceive that the leaders want them to compete with each other. These discrepancies may once again result in low job satisfaction and low performance, let alone a bad relationship between the leader and the employees.

The magnitude of the problems related to perceptual errors and bias may vary, but managers should agree that they have to address the problems seriously. If leaders failed to understand how their employee perceives things in the work environment, they may come across issues without even realizing it coming.

Managing the Perception

Behavior adheres to perception, so to influence employees’ behavior at work, managers need to assess how the employees perceive their work. Usually, strange behavior can be explained by understanding the perceptions that initiate it (Robbins & Judge, 2017). Managers may not be able to directly assess their employee’s perceptions, but they can try to understand the employee’s points of view (Ivancevich et al., 2013).

It can only be done by encouraging a culture of open and respectful communication between every people in the organization. Employees should feel comfortable in expressing what they think is necessary about the work environment, and managers should be able to listen. Managers should recognize the perceptual errors and biases that people tend to commit, and they should also train themselves to resolve that kinds of issues in a clear and respectful manner.

Aside from assessing the employees’ perception, managers should also try to objectively assess themselves, especially in terms of behavioral integrity. Behavioral integrity refers to the consistency between words and actions (Leroy et al., 2011). It is essential for managers, not only to practice behavioral integrity but also to be perceived accordingly by the employees. Employees’ perception of the manager’s behavioral integrity increases job satisfaction, job engagement, health, and life satisfaction, as well as reducing stress, turnover likelihood, and work-to-family conflict (Prottas, 2012).

Having a healthy work environment must not only be perceived by the managers but by the employees as well. It must be the reality for all people in the organization that the workplace is not only demanding them to perform but also providing them the benefit of a healthy work environment. Only then the people can reap the fruit of their well-being, and the organization can reap the fruit of high performance.


Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., Asplund, J. W., Killham, E. A., & Agrawal, S. (2010). Causal Impact of Employee Work Perceptions on the Bottom Line of Organizations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(4), 378–389.

Ivancevich, J. M., Konopaske, R., & Matteson, M. T. (2013). Organizational Behavior and Management (10th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

Leroy, H., Palanski, M. E., & Simons, T. (2011). Authentic Leadership and Behavioral Integrity as Drivers of Follower Commitment and Performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 107(3), 255–264.

Prottas, D. J. (2012). Relationships Among Employee Perception of Their Manager’s Behavioral Integrity, 
Moral Distress, and Employee Attitudes and Well-Being. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(1), 51–60.

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. A. (2017). Organizational Behavior, Global Edition (17th ed.). Pearson. 

Straz, M. (2016, September 19). How Employees and Managers See Things Differently -- and How to Fix It. Entrepreneur.

Read more about Organizational Theory and Behavior

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *