25 Jun 2018 03:39am IST
Perception is an important factor at the workplace. This stems from the fact that individuals actions, behaviors thoughts and feelings all depend on what one perceives. As individuals may see the same thing yet perceive them differently, it is important for a good manager to accurately measure his employees perceptions in order to understand various situations at work.
Perception involves selection, organisation and interpretation of stimuli and converting it into meaningful information. Selection normally occurs because an individual may not grasp everything that he sees. As a result only those stimuli which a person finds relevant will be selected. Here there are two principles involved. One is the figure and ground principle which states that an individual will select only those inputs which are meaningful to him. An example of figure and ground could be the blackboard where the letters can be considered as figures and the remaining space as ground. Since the letters stand out from the background, they are selected. The second is relevance. People in general will select only those inputs or stimuli which are relevant to them. Example people will tend read notice boards only if the information is of use to them.
The second part of perception is organisation, which literally means organizing the inputs into meaningful information. Here too certain principles are involved such as grouping, closure and simplification. People in general tend to group things on the basis of similarity. The more similar, the more likely it is to be grouped. A classic example is of two people leaving the organisation together. It will appear as if it was preplanned and they are both joining another organisation. In reality on may be going abroad and the other may be going on to become an entrepreneur. The second principle in organisation is closure. Whenever the inputs received are incomplete one tends to complete them. The information required to fill in the gaps may come from past experiences that an individual may possess. The last principle in organisation is simplification. Here whenever one is overloaded with information, he/she will try to simplify it. He /she will try to concentrate on the important points and ignore the unnecessary information.
The last part of perception is interpretation. Interpretation is influenced by different factors. For example the Halo effect. Halo effect implies judging a person based on a single trait and thereby forming an impression about him. Example if two employees are late to work, one by a few minutes and the other by half an hour. The employee who is late by a few minutes is considered hardworking and efficient whereas the other is considered as a lazy person and a good for nothing. In reality the person who reached late by half an hour may have been staying forty kms from the work place and may have been delayed on account of traffic jams or other related reasons which are not taken into consideration. Stereotyping is another factor affecting interpretation. Judging a person on the basis of characteristics of the group to which he belongs is stereotyping. A person who sits with a group of lazy and careless workers at lunch break may be branded as one of them. The person however may be sitting with them only because there is no other vacant chair to have his lunch. Stereotyping can be dangerous to organisations because we do not look at individuals as to what they are. Yet another factor affecting interpretation is attribution. It refers to perceiving identical behaviors differently. For example an officer working after office hours is considered as to be sincere to his work whereas a worker who works after office hours is considered to be working only for overtime payment.
There are also other factors too such as Impression which affects interpretation. Forming an impression at first site even without knowing the personality characteristics of the person is termed as impression. Here the examples of healthy people as good workers or silent workers as productive workers could be considered. And finally judging people from limited information or inference is the last factor which can affect interpretation. A person taking quick decisions may be considered as a good manager, but in reality he may not be having the time to go into the matter so he quickly dismisses the case by taking a decision.
Perception is also governed by internal factors such as personality, whereby an optimistic person will see every situation in a positive manner, and experience whereby past experiences shape ones perception. On the other hand external factors too affect perception such as intensity wherein if the message is loud and bright it will catch your attention, or frequency where by more the message is conveyed or repeated, the more likely it is to be registered.