darts on targetMost senior executive and managers believe they are extremely open to the ideas and feedback of employees, but a new study from HR consulting firm Development Dimensions International (DDI) has shown otherwise. The study, Creating the Conditions for Sustainable Innovation, primarily focused on discovering ways for companies to become more agile and competitive in a dynamic marketplace, but also uncovered insights on how employees feel about their role in the operation of their employers. The DDI report surveyed approximately 500 senior executives and managers and a similar number of non-management employees and found that there is a large disconnect between how managers and their workers feel about the communication process.

By the numbers, 78 percent of managers said they demonstrate openness and appreciation for the ideas and opinions of their workers; just 43 percent of employees felt this to be true. When asked if they helped guide employees who make mistakes in order to transform failures into learning opportunities, 80 percent of managers said yes; less than half (47 percent) of rank-and-file workers agreed. Where 51 percent of employees felt their bosses urged them to continue to expand their knowledge of trends and issues affecting their company, 77 percent of managers did. Regarding the advocating of employee-generated ideas to senior management, 75 percent of managers claimed to do so while just 41 percent of employees felt the same. Finally, 71 percent of surveyed managers said they encourage active debate about the implementation of new concepts with only 41 percent of employees in agreement.

The DDI report writers summarized the findings saying, “Most leaders feel they excel at the behaviors that lead to higher levels of innovation. But employees don’t see their leaders the way leaders see themselves. From the employee viewpoint, leaders struggle to inspire curiosity, challenge current perspectives, create the freedom to innovate and drive discipline.”

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