Lenses are the different perspectives on an organization’s EX that managers and leaders adopt and consider consciously. They allow leaders to view the EX from multiple points of view—to put on various hats and understand the beliefs and expectations of their employees through whatever frame is most helpful to the organization’s success. The most effective leaders are those who can (and are willing to) go beyond their limited perspectives and see the EX with new eyes.

The 3 Lenses of the Employee Experience

1. Organizational lens

Looking through this lens, the owner, executive, or manager sees the EX as it affects the organization: sales, market share, recruitment, partnerships, turnover, competition, brand, personnel decisions, patient satisfaction, and more. When you view EX through the organizational lens, it’s from the perspective of what is best for the organization, not necessarily the employees. Looking through this lens can help leaders temporarily set aside personal relationships and emotional issues related to employees to see what needs to be done to preserve the well-being of the organization. After all, while the organization doesn’t exist without its employees, it works the other way around, too. It’s tough to be employed by an organization that doesn’t exist.

2. Employee lens

Looking through this lens, the leader sees the EX from the perspective of the employee. This is a way to get employees’-eye views of issues like compensation, engagement, culture, beliefs, and work-life balance. Using the employee lens, a manager might understand how employee beliefs led to a specific outcome in a way that wasn’t possible had she looked at things only from her own perspective. Gazing through the employee lens provokes a manager to ask “How does this decision impact employees and their perceptions? How will they see it?”

3. Leader lens

Looking through the leader lens means being able to look through the organizational and employee lenses at the same time, giving both views their appropriate consideration, while also paying attention to the leader’s own viewpoint. This ability to look through multiple lenses is a skill found in elite leaders who are able to integrate three points of view: their own, the organization’s, and employees’. Peering through the leader lens gives a broader, more complete range of insights needed to make decisions—but it doesn’t tell them which decisions are best.

The lenses are tools for information gathering. They don’t impart judgment, good or poor. These lenses are only as effective as the fairness, clarity, empathy, predictability, transparency, and accountability of the people doing the looking. They are powerful tools for intentionally designing, building, and shaping an organization and culture, but the outcome depends entirely on what you do with what you see.

Shifting between lenses, and asking questions through these lenses as guides, gives us a multiscopic, more complete perspective of expectations.

The Three Lenses of the Employee Experience