“Subjective work processes – work processes that we allow to be open to interpretation – those are the route to all the evil in the workplace,” says Rex Conner, founder of HR firm Mager Consortium.
“Any disagreements or negative energy – whether it’s people not understanding why they’re receiving this evaluation, why they didn’t get a promotion, why they didn’t get a pay raise – all of those experiences have their route in work processes that are subjective.”
Conner – who recently penned “What if Common Sense Was Common Practice in Business?” – says there are two areas employers need to concentrate on if they want to increase objectivity.
“The first thing we need to look at is the communication we use to describe performance,” he says. “That cannot be subjective, it must be objective.”
According to Conner, “fuzzy communication” – like requiring an employee to take initiative, be a team player, or provide world-class customer service – can actually do more harm than good.
“That language is in a company mission statement because that’s very broad reaching and needs to be fuzzy but it doesn’t help me in my day to day performance,” he explains.
“Instead of that subjective communication, we need to get used to saying; ‘I want you to take more initiative which means I want you to be at work five minutes early, I want you volunteer for assignments, I want you to have your job summary in on time.’
“We need to give employees observable performances instead of fuzzy expectations and directions.”
As well as taking the subjectivity out of communication, Conner says employers have to take the subjectivity out of work processes too.
“If we map out or work processes, we’ll find a lot of instances of holes in the process, or fuzzy communication in the process,” he says. “We can fix both of those when we map it out, discover the different ways people are doing things, find the best practice then fill the gap with the official way so everyone has one way of performing.”
However, amending subjective processes is a task that will never quite be complete, warns Conner.
“Your process should be to review that process every quarter, six months or year and capture best practices as they grow and change,” he says.
Increase your focus on objectivity and employers can expect better results and fewer conflicts – that’s the claim from one industry expert who says subjectivity is the route of all workplace evil.