Perception Management in Human Resource Development (HRD)

Most of us would have encountered the phrase, it is all about perceptions and some of us would have come across the term, perception management. In the corporate world, these terms are often bandied about to indicate that more than the actual work or achievements that one accomplishes; one should be seen and viewed as an achiever. What this means is that the perceptions of people around the individual about the individual’s capabilities are more important than the actual capabilities. Of course, this does not mean to say that a complete failure can still be packaged and sold as success. What this means is that along with achieving something, we have to ensure that the environment perceives us as achievers and successes. The bottom line here is that it is just not enough for us to reach milestones and targets. We have to ensure that the message is communicated and received appropriately.

Perception management plays a huge role in the corporate world as well as in the defense forces where the ability to influence the receivers’ impressions of the event is paramount. For instance, many corporates court the media houses and channels to air or publish favorable stories about them. This is done with an eye on perception management where the users and the consumers ought to recognize the achievements of the corporates in a positive manner.

In these cases, perceptions count more than the actual achievement per se as perceptions determine whether the consumers would be willing to buy the product and be loyal towards the company. Another term, top of the mind recall, is often used to denote how well the consumers know a particular company’s products and this is again determined by the perceptions that consumers hold about the product.

Turning to the usage of the term in corporates, employees have to ensure that their achievements are marketed to the management and their managers in a positive manner instead of them having a negative image of the employee. This can be done in explicit and implicit ways since managing perceptions means that employees can alter their behavior as well as do serious work to influence the perceptions of their coworkers and managers. The point here is that it is not enough if the managers perceive the employee to be an achiever. Coworker perceptions are equally important as the environment around the employee needs to be influenced to achieve the desired results. Further, the HRD function must notice these perceptions and record them as well for the employees to have an impact on their environment.

Finally, perceptions play an important role but it needs to be remembered that one should not get carried away by them. On the contrary, managers and the HRD function still rely on actual results and data to arrive at decisions concerning the future of the employee. Keeping this in mind, it would be worthwhile for the employees to deliver results and also indulge in perception management. At the end of the day, more than anything else, it is the combination of results and the perceptions of the employee achieving them matter as a package.


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