Can you imagine being told by your supermarket what you had to buy? Or your hairdresser telling you how your hair should be cut? How about local bar or pub deciding what you wanted to drink? I know for one that I wouldn’t put up with it and I guess is that it wouldn’t take long for you to get fed up either.
Because we like the choice. We like the feeling of control. We like to be in charge of our own destiny. Now of course, we could debate for hours, whether we are actually in control, or having the living daylights manipulated out of us on an hourly basis. But stay with me.
It’s well known that the idea of a “war for talent” makes me want to self castrate with a rusty set of hair clippers. I’m also not going to go down the Gen Y debate, because there are too many haters out there and I can’t be arsed.
But. And this is a big but (no jokes please). I do think the relationship is changing between employers and employees.
Yet, so much of what we do is still grounded in the paternalistic past where the boss knew best. How we pay, how we offer benefits, how we train and develop. How we promote and manage careers.
We provide very little choice in organisations, very little flexibility and very little responsibility. Instead we standardise, homogenise, process and commoditise the employment relationship. Partly because it makes things easy for us, partly because it retains control.
But it misses a trick. If the future of employment relationships is less permanent, less linear and generally more two-way. Then shouldn’t we be designing our organisations to genuinely give choice and ownership to employees? Not merely paying lip service to it.
It is nice to talk about the way that management is going to change. The way in which the organisation is going to change. The way in which careers are going to change. But how is the organisational infrastructure going to change and who is thinking about it?
That’s what I’d like to know.