Perception Decision Event

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Perceptions and Decisions

Many of us will encounter similar circumstances in our life time and come away with

starkly different interpretations of the events. Feelings, gut reactions, and experience will alter

these perceptions even though the event was still the same. This phenomenon can occur at any

time two people witness the same event. It can be even more innocuous than a specific event. A

consistent behavior among peers can be construed differently by different perceivers will

seemingly no rhyme or reason. With these indiscernible perceptions from events, people will

invariably make decisions on them. How can a person's perception be validated or authenticated

even though another many have a different perception? How can sound decisions be made if the

perceptions are different between the perceivers? The purpose of this article is to identify how

perceptions affect decisions within an organization and to better understand the motivators of

such. Perceptions and decisions are an important part of any situation a person may encounter, it

is best to explore how these issues impact organizations and the behavior of the organizations


Let us begin by identifying perception as it relates to the organization and who perceives.

Perception is reality in the mind of the employee. Winning the battle of perception of the

employee begins with understanding how the employee perceives. Perception is the

interpretation of the auditory and sensory information a person receives. One aspect of

perception deals with the person's personal characteristics like motivation, attitude, and aptitude.

Healthy outlooks will tend to sway perceptions of events. When a person is seen as optimistic,

they can be viewed as ‘seeing the world through rose colored glasses'. Conversely, if a person is

generally sad, the outlook of that person is generally negative and sour. Another factor of

perception is situations. Time constraints, work environments, or social settings will also

contribute. Stressful situations as in a time of terrorist attacks or robberies can sway a person's

view of an event as well. Finally, a person's perception will be influenced by factors of the target

or event being perceived. Is the target or event in close proximity to you? Is the size of the event

large or small?

As it pertains to an organization, a manager must understand how his or her own

perceptions are forged. A manager evaluating their subordinates should be able accurately

identify attributes of the subordinate. Perception plays a large role in evaluating employees. The

manager will evaluate substantive information like timeliness of reports. Other information will

be more subjective like employee attitude and teamwork. Managers can decide about an

employee's performance through these common perception assumptions. The Attribution Theory

states that when evaluating someone's performance, the perceiver can assign a particular

attribute to the employee to explain the behavior. Determining whether the attribute is external or

internal requires the evaluator to logically analyze the situation. In order to analyze the

performance, the manager must decide on three factors; distinctiveness, consensus, and

consistency. Is the employee's desirable or undesirable behavior consistently displayed? Is the

behavior unique? Is the employee's actions seen by others the same way? If a subordinate of the

manager has been documented before about late assignments and the employee's excuses blame

lack of timelines in projects, is it possible the needs of the employee are not being met or does

the employee simply perform in an untimely manner? Reflecting back to the three factors, it is

possible to imagine how each of the factors could produce different results. It is also possible to

over simplify this process and unfairly cite the wrong internal or external motivator and thus

commit a fundamental attribution error. Ignoring other influences or minimizing the importance

of series of events will lead to a skewed performance appraisal. It is important to remain

objective and open during this process.

Another mistake an evaluator could make on employee performance is selective

perception. It is impossible to assimilate every aspect of the world around you. If an event is

fresh in the evaluator's mind, such as a recent confrontation with the employee, it is possible to

have the evaluation reflect an unfair amount of this event. The same is also true for positive

examples from recent memory and the manager can neglect behaviors that require attention.

Much the same as sensational media stories will dominate the evening news, other events will go

less noticed.

Another perception shortcut is the Halo effect, which is evaluating a subordinate's

behavior based on one single attribute. A manager can be fixated on one aspect of the

employee's positive behavior that the supervisor can ignore poor performance in other categories

since he or she values one attribute over another. If a salesperson has higher incremental sales

than most, the evaluator may ignore attendance issues that need to be addressed because of this

effect. Incorrectly evaluating a person's behaviors will lend less credibility to the evaluator and

ultimately harm the organization's ability to improve. That being said, using these decisions

short cuts to improve productivity is a positive aspect of them

Decisions are made through perceptions. Analytical thinking is a requirement to

effectively make decisions. Availability of information may also hinder the decision making

process but ideally the Rational Decision-Making Process should be used. This decision making

process contains six steps: define the problem to be solved, identify criteria in which to make the

decision with, determine which criterion is more important in the decision, produce alternative

solutions, evaluate alternate solutions, and finally select the best option available.

When it comes to making decisions in today's complex business world, the amount of

time being allotted to decision making is shrinking every day. The ability to assimilate

information and develop it into a business plan while satisfying organizational obligations

requires not only the analytical skills necessary to gather information but also to use intuition as

a means of means of making decisions. The Rational Decision-Making process might be too

cumbersome to use during every decision. If the evaluator has intuition, the process is shortened

a great deal. Intuition allows the evaluator to rely on past experiences and perceptions to identify

opportunities for growth and performance improvements.

Ethics are a necessary component to decision making and also must be considered. Ethics

are identified through three steps. The decision qualifiers such as utilitarianism, rights, and

justice are an important criterion when formulating decisions. These elements also lend

themselves to the perception of the effectiveness of the decision maker and can also influence the

employee's perception of worth towards their supervisors.


Olson, G. (2008, January 18). Resist the Rush to Judgment in Personnel Disputes. Chronicle of

Higher Education, 54(19), C2-C2. Retrieved July 27, 2008, from MasterFILE Premier


Robbins, Stephen P. (2005). Organizational behavior (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:

Pearson Education.