Organizational behaviour refers to a person’s behaviour in an organizational setting, or the interface of the humans with the various elements of the organizations while working in it (Barends, 2017). The study of organizational behaviour helps to understand how employees behave, act and perform in a workplace. A person’s behaviour is influenced by several individual variables like the person’s personality, cultural background, attitude, perception, and so on. Perception is also one of the factors that influence a person’s behaviour and performance (Elsbach, 2017). This perception is an individual’s cognitive process, by which they interpret the information they receive. It is an active and creative process through which the person gives meaning to the sensory information to understand self and other people of the organization.
By helping the person to understand the environment, it helps the person to act accordingly within it. It helps to build an organizational understanding and teamwork, and thus ensure optimal performance. The presented paper gives an overview of this perception. It also sheds light on the various barriers that cause inaccuracy and biasedness in perception and how the organizations and individuals overcome these barriers.
Perception can be described as the simple process of organizing, identifying, and interpreting the sensory information to get an understanding of the surrounding environment or representing it (Wilson 2017). It consists of all the processes by which an individual receives information about his surrounding environment. These processes are in the form of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. Perception can also be explained in simple words as a sensory process which enables a person to become aware of the various environmental situations and adds meaningful associations to these individual sensations (Wilson 2017). In the most basic form perception is a cognitive process which is required to receive a certain piece of information or sensory stimuli or some kind of data, then selecting and filtering it, followed by organizing, interpreting and evaluating that information, and finally reacting to that stimuli.
Some experts also describe perception as an intellectual process and the competence an individual possess to transform the sensory stimuli to some meaningful information or data (Zerella, Treuer and Albert 2017). It is the process of interpreting something that an individual sees or hears in the mind and later use it to evaluate and give a personal opinion on a situation, person, group etc. Perception allows individuals to understand other people, groups, communities of their social environment (Zerella, Treuer and Albert 2017). A simple example of perception can be given as, a person purchasing some product might like the product, and thus that person perceives that product to be good and useful and will recommend it to others. Thus, the perception of that product is good.
Perception varies from person to person, and different individuals may have different person from one given situation or stimuli. Different individuals have different thought processes, beliefs, objectives, different feelings etc. and thus each individual behaves in accordance to these differences (Wilson 2017). Due to these factors, different individuals perceive different meaning for similar things or situations. A particular thing which may be right for one individual, the other individual might perceive to be incorrect. This depends on how a person interprets things, and what is that person’s point of view. Individual’s actions, emotions, thoughts and feelings are triggered by the perception of their environment. It is a subjective process that happens consciously or and unconsciously.
Perception also plays an important role in various businesses and its functioning. It is very important in establishing the different role of perceptions like (Wilson 2017):
For example, every member of a group has to be clear regarding the role allotted to them. This perception which relates to the workplace settings is also referred to as social perception (Wilson 2017). Social perception includes all those processes by which an individual perceives other colleagues or people at their workplace. Social perception explains how individual interpret other people, how they categorize them and consists of what impressions the individuals form for them.
Three major factors of the business environment impact an individual’s perception. These three major influencing factors on social or organizational person are:
Many factors contribute to distorting an individual’s perception in an organizational setting. These several barriers cause hindrance in the perception process and inhibit the accuracy of the individual’s perception (Buchanan and Huczynksi 2017). This inaccuracy thus results in bias of opinions. Some of the factors that prove to be barriers inaccurate perception can be described as follows:
Stereotyping is one of the most common factors impacting perception. It creates barriers in perceiving others at work. A stereotype is in simple terms generalizing about a group of people. Stereotyping consists of the process through which specific attributes are assigned to a group of people only based on their class or category (Buchanan and Huczynksi 2017). This stereotype most likely occurs when an individual meets new people and has very little information about those people at that time. Thus, the individual tends to categorize those people into a few general classes, solely based on some prominent and general characteristics like sex, race, or age. For example, on meeting people of higher age group an individual will have the stereotype for these older people to be conservative and old-fashioned. Often individuals tend to compare other groups with their group, thus these minor differences between groups lead to form a stereotype.
Three most common type of stereotypes prevalent in organizations relate to age, race and gender. Age stereotypes are very prominent among almost all organizations and can be found throughout. Stereotypes like older people are resistant to organizational change, have a slow working style and are less creative are very commonly observed (Buchanan and Huczynksi 2017). This gives rise to many conflicting opinions and decisions in an organization and thus inhibits individual and organizational performance. Similar issues arise from stereotypes regarding people belonging to different cultural backgrounds and of different gender. For example, many male employees have a biased perception when dealing with women at managerial and executive levels.
Selective perception is a perception process in which an individual systematically filters the information, which is not important and does not wish to hear, to focus on the more salient and important information (Lodgaard et.al 2016). Selective perception is a function of an individual’s own experiences, needs, and orientations.
For example, a production manager tends to be a focus on information related to the production and manufacture of goods and will be focused it’s on related problems and exclude other problems. Similarly, personnel’s like accountants and marketing managers have tended to have a selective perception for their specialization and thus focus on the information of the departments they belong and screen out other information ((Lodgaard et.al 2016).
Another barrier to organizational perception is perceptual defence. Perceptual defence creates inaccurate perception as individuals often tend to ignore or refrain from considering information that might be personally threatening to the individual or which is not acceptable culturally (Buchanan and Huczynksi 2017). Stimuli which cause emotional disturbance have higher recognition threshold and individual always ignore these emotional stimuli and are not likely to fully confront or accept threat. This perceptual defence inhibits the individuals from facing events or situations which they do not wish to handle or maybe the individual be incapable of handling. This perceptual defence diverts the person’s thought process to other aspects to suppress the original event. For example, the management of a manufacturing company might leak the information that the manufacturing plant will be shut down due to low profits. In response to this information, the employees of that plan might choose to ignore this information, and tend to believe that the management is building false rumours to lower their wages. This perception might also result in increased conflicts between the employer and the employees. Perceptual defence comes into play especially when people are presented with information that is in contradiction to their personal beliefs and attitudes. Perceptual defence causes any situation to become complex and more difficult and also is the cause of many conflicts. Perceptual defence gives rise to blind spots, preventing the individual to receive and accept the events and information as they are in reality.
Perception through subjective, it is largely cognitive and a creative psychological process and this perception affects the communication of an individual, and how the person responds to some information. Accurate perception is important which helps an individual to understand the various dynamics of the organization and the business environment he is working in (Khan, Khan, and Gul, 2019). As described above, many factors affect this perception and distort an individual’s perception and affects the behaviour and conduct of employees. Employees tend to resist a particular change as a result of perceptual defence (Barends, 2017). These inaccuracies in perceptual decisions also create obstacles in the achievement of organisational objectives. Thus, it is essential to prevent and overcome these perceptual inaccuracies.
The organizations can prevent distorted perceptions understanding and evaluating the perception of its employees and enable the employees to improve their thought process, thus helping them to enhance their behaviour (Barends, 2017). The organizations must clearly define the organizational goals and employee expectations and provide a clear understanding of the various aspects of the organization's operations and functioning. The employers must outline employee goals which are in alignment of the organizational goals and structure. This helps the employees to better understand their job roles and thus perform to their maximum capacity without having any stereotypes or negative perceptions in mind (Biswas and Mazumder 2017). Also, providing clarity to the employees helps the, build a positive perception from the very start and thus, limits the chances of the inaccurate perceptions and the resulting conflicts. It is also important for organizations to focus and have initiatives for employee development. When employees fail to understand their growth options and opportunities and improvements, they are demotivated and this leads to negative perception (Lodgaard et.al 2016).
Thus, the organizations must also try to provide the best of the future growth opportunities to its employees. The organizations must also ensure employee engagement to empower the employees and create a positive work culture. A positive work culture helps build positive perceptions about the organizations and their people. Individually also, every person must try to prevent inaccurate perceptions by increasing self-awareness, avoiding stereotypes, and using direct and indirect perception checking regularly (Biswas and Mazumder 2017). Increasing self-awareness about what and how an individual perceives helps to assess the distorted perceptions and improve on it. Individuals should work to ignore and overcome their stereotypes, and understand that stereotypic beliefs do not hold. Individuals should also keep a check on their perceptions by continuously observing and asking questions about their perceptions, to ensure that their perceptions are accurate.
Perception plays an important role in a person’s behaviour, whether personal or organizational and thus its personality. Perception impacts the individual communication skills, behavioural skills and his conduct while working in an organizational setting. Many factors of the organizational environment affect this cognitive process of perception and influence how things are perceived. Positive and accurate perception is very important for individuals to work with their maximum capacity. However, many factors create barriers in this accurate perceptions and distort the individual perceptions. Such distorted perceptions prevailing in the organization, can result in many conflict and thus, hinder the organizations growth and productivity. Thus, it a challenge for the organizations to reduce and minimize this inaccurate perception. This can be achieved by fostering a positive working culture and focusing on employee development and assessment of their perceptions, to maximize their performance and thus increasing the overall productivity of the company.
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