How Your Employees Might Perceive You

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Think you're nice? Your people might think otherwise. Humboldt's Greg J. Gold studied how students perceived their superiors:

Target ^1

Gold randomly assigned 133 subjects to high- or low-status positions, then asked them whether they'd employ harsh or soft tactics to influence those at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Target ^2

He also asked 141 college freshmen and seniors which tactics they'd use and which tactics freshmen expected seniors to use, to persuade the opposite group to tend them class notes.

The Results

Subordinates over-predicted supervisors use of "harsh" power tactics, such as coercion, as opposed to "soft" or rewarding incentives.

Gold attributes it to the confirmation bias theory -- "a preconceived notion of what will happen, thus biasing employees against even the most benevolent boss." So when you think you're "nice," don't be too content just yet. Your people might think otherwise. The solution?

Be super-duper nice.


(We'll explain how in a future article.)

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Posted on February 17

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