Quite often, many of my thoughts are accompanied by song lyrics that I’ve heard over the years.
The two that come to mind when I think about the concept of choice are the following:
“I hate this supermarket
But I have to say it makes me think
A hundred mineral waters
It’s fun to guess which ones are safe to drink.
Two hundred brands of cookies
87 kinds of chocolate chip
They say that choice is freedom
I’m so free it drives me to the brink” – It’s All Too Much by Joe Jackson
or more succinctly,
“So many choices, it’s not fair.” – Always Saturday by Guadalcanal Diary.
As much as I love the imagery of staring blankly at a supermarket shelf with 87 kinds of chocolate chip, I am more akin to the second lyric.
For the purposes of discussing the human dynamic and the billions of choices it offers, it holds more relevance for the business and HR world.
In many respects, it is simply how we are wired.
As humans we live with two conflicting forces in our head:
1) The search for constant novelty:
We love new stuff and we constantly want new stuff. New stuff makes us happy. It is the reason why car leasing is so popular or that cell phones have a two year life.
These are not coincidences. Marketers know we love new stuff and that is why there is enormous amount of stuff to buy and throw into a landfill soon after.
But this conflicts with…
2) Our enormous need to create order out of chaos:
Our brains are flinging thoughts at us all day so quickly, it is physically impossible to acknowledge them all. Because of this, there’s a possibility that at some point while you were reading this, your mind strayed a little.
That’s OK. I am not offended.
To tell you the truth, while I was writing this, my mind strayed toward Nutter Butters, Muncie, Indiana and Bob Scally.
But my need for order brought me back to this post and my desire to express and complete my thoughts. Hopefully, your need for order brought you back to finish reading this.
The problem that can arise from this natural situation is to push too hard toward the need for order. Pushing too hard can result in an unrealistic view of the world in which we believe we can control things that are beyond our control.
For example, people. Or to draw this down to a more manageable concept, people at work.
However, even ‘people at work’ is not a manageable concept.
Due to the hierarchical nature of the workplace where an authority figure reigns over others, it is highly likely that status relationships will develop. In other words, someone will have a higher status, creating a subservient role in the relationship.
When the grade between authority and non-authority status becomes too high, this can resemble parent-child relationships where the former decides choices for others and the latter has all choices made for them.
The problem with this in the workplace is that workers are adults. They wish to make choices for themselves and create adult work relationships. They also understand there is a level of authority and accountability that exist in the workplace.
Thus, workers do not desire anarchy. They desire realistic respect.
The challenge is how to create this type of work experience and integrate it into the workplace culture, and still maintain a level of authority and accountability.
This challenge occurs at every level of the employee life cycle from the application process to the termination date. The challenge is worth facing because it leads to a workplace culture that attracts and retains talent. It also becomes a brand worth promoting.
Choice Management: Choosing #TNL
To discover more about these concepts and to discuss this with your peers is a choice you can make successfully for yourself. On December 5, I will be at TalentNetLive in Chicago, IL facilitating a session entitled, “Attracting and Retaining Talent Through Choice Management.”
Of course, you can choose not to attend my session. You can choose either John Sumser or a panel featuring Trish McFarlane, Crystal Miller and Bryan Wempen, all of whom have high HR-IQ’s.
If you do choose to attend my session, we will be discussing concepts that take on the challenge of creating realistic workplace cultures, in turn, creating higher productivity, better retention and higher overall job satisfaction.
These concepts center around what I consider Choice Management which is a method of approaching the hierarchical system realistically and strives to create adult work behavior.
I know it seems like there are 200 conferences choices every year. Of which, 87 of will have savvy, intelligent HR people in attendance. And from that, the choices are not fair. However, it’s an easy choice to attend TNL on December 5 in Chicago.
It’s in an ‘unconference style’ where it’s easier to share your ideas and to network.
The cast of folks facilitating are some of the brightest and innovative thinkers on the subject of employer branding and talent sourcing.
Looking at the agenda, I know I’m going to learn a few things.
For me, that is always a choice that is easy to make.
Monster is proud to support TalentNet Live (#TNL), an event for talent managers and human capital leaders featuring some of the brightest minds and biggest innovations in the HR industry and continuing the conversation – and learning – for practitioners around topics like social media, social recruiting and HR training.
Paul Smith is the Director of Human Resources for the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission in Philadelphia. He has worked in HR for over twelve years in a variety of fields including non-profit, wholesale, nursing and banking, specializing in OD, recruiting, benefits, and diversity & inclusion.He is currently a member of SHRM’s Standards Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion, and is the Committee Chair for Philadelphia SHRM’s Thought Leadership for Diversity & Inclusion. He has facilitated sessions at HREvolution and has presented locally on such topics as performance management, ADA, and social media policy.