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Behind the Backdrop

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

Find out what your employees are saying


by Susan D. Swafford | Leadership, Communication, Trust, Transparency, Authenticity


The mountains provide a perfect backdrop for wedding photographers. Large pieces of cloth with buildings and countryside painted on them are hung as backgrounds for theater performances. The novel unfolds against a framework of success. The city provides a setting for the love story in a movie. Whether a scene in a story, a setting in a movie, or even a condition in an organization, there is a backdrop in which everything else is set against.


But when the backdrop is removed, the truth behind the scene is visible. Turn just a few degrees to the right of the backdrop of mountains and all that is seen is a dry and dusty desert. Take down the background in the theater and a blank dark wall is revealed. Read deeper into the story and you’ll understand the success wasn’t built overnight. Provide a safe way for your employees to express what they really think about your organization and you’ll have a true view of what’s going on behind the backdrop.


We’ve heard the adage, “things aren’t always as they appear” and we all can relate with the truth behind it. Backdrops, as we know, are a type of façade. They give an outward appearance that’s maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality. Managing a successful organization requires managers to go behind the backdrop and listen to not only the positive things employees say about the organization, but also the negative. The manager’s positive response to the negative report is what builds a better workplace. Morale is increased, authenticity and transparency are fostered, trust is built, and for managers who are willing to go beyond the backdrop, their organizations are enabled to cultivate greater success.

What’s behind the backdrop of the employees you manage? Are they functioning behind a façade? Are they happy or discontent in their roles? Do they truly feel valued and appreciated for the work they do? Are you willing to go behind the backdrop to find out?


According to Gallup, 75% of the reasons people quit come down to their managers. Don’t let yourself be the reason your employees quit. Go behind the backdrop and see what your employees are saying.