Hidden Agenda

Hidden Agenda

Will the real agenda please stand up!

One of the biggest contributors to mistrust between a staff member and their manager is the belief by the staff member that the manager has a hidden agenda.

The staff member doesn’t know what the manager’s hidden agenda is but they have such a strong suspicion that one exists they can almost become consumed by trying to work out what it is and devise a number of different scenarios to protect themselves. With this mindset, it almost doesn’t matter what the manager now says or does, the die is cast and there exists a growing distance between both parties.

Left unchecked, the manager and staff member decrease the number and duration of their interactions, discussion becomes strained and conversations are strictly on an as needs basis about work only matters.

What is this hidden agenda? 

When I talk to the staff member, they are adamant that one exists. When I talk with the manager, they are adamant that one does not exist.

A hidden agenda exists when there is incongruence between what the manager is verbally saying and their nonverbal communication. We are very quick to sense when we are not being told the full story and the story we tend to believe is the one we are interpreting from the Manager’s nonverbal communication. This is not surprising when it is estimated that nonverbal communication makes up 55% of the complete communication message, with tone estimated to impact another 20% on the interaction and the actual words being said just 10%. 

With these statistics in mind, it is very important for the Manager to be fully self-aware of their nonverbal communication signals. One of the biggest factors impacting on the display of nonverbal communication is the existence of two story lines or narratives. One is what the Manager has planned to say and is saying and the other is the silent story in their minds about what they really think about the staff member and the situation. Or this silent story might be about what they are planning to do on the weekend. People believe that so long as this story remains silent, this narrative can co-exist with the verbal conversation taking place and the receiver will be none the wiser.

In fact the receiver or listener is very astute in recognising that a second story is being relayed concurrently with the verbal story and they start to pay more attention to the second story and less and less attention to the verbal story. 

The listener knows that another agenda exists, one that has not been declared and their suspicions are heightened. The presence of a second story implies the manager is not being honest and transparent and therefore cannot be trusted.

Trust underpins relationships which underpins culture.

The importance for every manager to have increased levels of mindfulness and self-awareness and be able to prepare fully for a conversation using the THINK strategy become very evident.

Can your organisational culture cope with being undermined by the hidden agenda?

Consider inviting Workplace Harmony Solutions to partner with your organisation to evoke positive cultural change by implementing our ‘moving on up’ program.

Share from here

About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.

We regret to advise that Catherine Gillespie, the company founder, passed away on June 1st 2024, as a result of an accident If you are enquiring about our services, please note that we will not be able to take on any new projects. If you have a current work in progress, please contact us via email for additional information and next steps.