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Delusions of the Workplace

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According to a recent report from Salary.com, employers estimated that 37 percent of their staff were looking for other work. The actual number? A whopping 65 percent!

How can you make realistic staffing plans when your estimates are so far off the mark?

A Business Week survey demonstrates the same level of delusion in employees' self-assessments. When asked, "Are you one of the Top 10% of performers in your company?" a startling 84 percent of middle managers answered yes. Fully 96 percent of those who work for companies with less than 50 employees see themselves in the top 10 percent, as do 97 percent of executives.

How can you find ways to improve your performance when you already think you've arrived at perfection?

Delusions are not good. People at every level of business need to know what's what. Managers need a realistic assessment of their employees' job satisfaction, and employees need a more realistic way to assess their own need for improvement.

Job satisfaction is best determined by keeping lines of communication open and honest and by keeping middle management as closely in touch with staff as possible. And self-assessment requires clear metrics based on quantifiable critical drivers in each and every position.

The first step in curing both delusions is recognizing that there's a problem. Ask whether your estimates in a given aspect of your business are based on solid information or wishing thinking. If it's pie-in-the-sky, put systems in place to get the realistic answers you need.