Disconnect between Execs and Employees

In a recent CIO Insight survey (see link below), it was observed that executives and employees do not necessarily believe the same things.  They differ on values, communication, and culture.  Read the article below and let me know what you think.


In my opinion, this isn’t anything new.  Company executives have always had a difficult time relating to the common employee.  That’s one reason for the rise of labor unions in blue collar workplaces.  Employees simply do not believe management shares their values or even cares about them.

Actually, as a student of the American Civil War, I’ve read plenty of examples of the wide gap between officers and men in the ranks.  So we know this phenomenon has been going on for a long time.  One story was told of a Confederate private playing cards with his Federal friends until a colonel came along and threatened to take him prisoner.  Clearly, the rank and file held different beliefs about the war in progress.

I believe this belief gap stems from your role in the company.  Executives experience the company in completely different ways than employees.  Their beliefs are shaped by completely different experiences and input.  Of course, the common employees thinks he knows it all, and is usually pretty vocal about his beliefs, but they don’t always have all the information.  Sometimes company issues are just too hard to analyze from an employee perspective.  Executives may also hold similar ivory tower beliefs about their company.  After all, they sit at the top looking down on it all.  Surely they can see clearly from a strategic vantage point.

The fact is, employees and executives should swap places every so often, just to experience a different perspective.  A company I worked for tried this on a limited basis.  Software engineers were required to spend one day per quarter with tech support.  Support engineers were required to spend a day with the programmers.  This forced those employees to see things from a different perspective. 

Rifts are created when employees feel management is not listening to them, or is making bad strategic decisions.  The same is true when executives think employees are just in it for the benefits and money.  Without some mixing of the classes, this is what you get.

But in all my time, I’ve never seen employees running the company for a day, or executives on the assembly line.  Maybe this is not such a bad idea!