When faced with a difficult decision you strive to minimize the risk of being wrong by gathering as much information as you can before taking action. Sometimes you may be pressed for time and therefore limited in the amount of information you can access.
Making decisions with limited information is risky and fraught with the potential for rejection. When the degree of risk is high and you can’t get enough feedback to minimize it, you may put off making the decision until you have more information.
On the other hand, if the decision is of little consequence and the risk is low, you may act quickly, because in the long run, you aren’t concerned about rejection. Therefore, it’s the degree of risk in combination with the amount of feedback that determines your behavior.
The degree of risk in combination with the amount of feedback available similarly determines how people in an organization respond to rejection. These two factors create four possible organizational cultures. In the descriptions that follow, risk relates to decision-making and feedback relates to accessible information.
The Risk Feedback Connection
The functionality of an organization depends upon how well you and your coworkers respond to rejection, treat mistakes, service customers, handle complaints, create ideas, manage growth, and view success. As you review the description of each culture below, make note of how that culture responds to rejection and compare it to what goes on in your workplace.
Presume Culture (High Risk — Low Feedback)
- Crises are driven by high priorities at most work levels.
- Employees move from one crisis to the next.
- People never know how well they are doing.
- Problems require bet-your-job decision-making.
- Opportunities for making a difference are few.
- Chances of continued success are limited.
- Mistakes are not tolerated, and the cost of failure is high.
- The norm is avoiding mistakes and making certain before you act.
- New ideas are modest improvements on what worked before.
- Innovation means it was pirated from another company.
Process Culture (Low Risk — Low Feedback)
- Limited risk is matched by infrequent feedback.
- Resistance to change is very strong.
- Failure is viewed as a career ending point.
- Once an idea fails there is no interest in trying it again.
- People keep track of their failures.
- New employees are warned not to upset the status quo.
- Customer Service is slow and unresponsive.
- Complaints are expected as part of the job.
- Change involves long periods of planning by many people.
- Ideas and suggestions are overly examined from every angle.
- The organizational norm is “don’t rock the boat.”
Progress Culture (Low Risk — High Feedback)
- Plans and creative concepts are developed for the future.
- Employees strive for success and take chances.
- There is ample time to develop and test new ideas.
- Developmental focus is both near and long term.
- Failure creates opportunities for testing alternatives.
- Information is available through easily assessable sources.
- Failures do not keep people from rising and trying it again.
- People are fluid, moving often, changing positions and job duties.
- New projects are launched as soon as the pilot shows promise.
- Customers respond to personal attention and frequent contact.
- The more people put into the job, the more they get out of it
Perform Culture (High Risk — High Feedback)
- Relationship between risk-taking and feedback is balanced.
- Sufficient information to fully understand the risk is available.
- Risk stimulates creative thinking and builds confidence.
- The best decisions are made when the competition hesitates.
- Everyone spreads out to look for new information.
- People know how to network with unique and varying sources.
- Change is the natural way to sustain high performance.
- The goal is to keep ahead of the competition.
- Innovation means new ways to use old resources.
- Failure is expected and overlooked when it occurs.
- Customer response time is an important factor.
- New learning opportunities and creative processes are the norm.