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Survival of the Square Pegs

September 15, 2009

I began my first class of grad school, and I thought this would be an interesting way to keep track of some of my thoughts, sum up what I learned, etc. It’s like my readers get an exciting class in Industrial/Organizational Psychology for free! You’re welcome.

Last night (after I came in late, shambled across the classroom, in front of the projector to find that there were no seats and I had to sit next to the teacher’s desk, like a big dork) we first discussed how the workplace has changed in the previous 10 years.

We talked a little bit about HR in general. Essentially how it’s all about “fit.” We want people who work for us to fit in to the company, the position, the culture, the managerial style.  We were then introduced to Schneider’s “ASA” model, which shows how company’s become homogenous through Attraction, Selection and Attrition.  Essentially, people who choose to apply to us have identified that they are similar to the culture, or are attracted to our values. Then we select people who we think are like us, and then if they don’t – they leave. So, in theory – we have a company of happy folks who work well together. We rate high on satisfaction surveys. Everything is nifty. Except it’s not.

Where is the conflict? The innovation? That’s when the idea of diversity and evolution were introduced. We need differences – we need diversity and people who don’t get along, and who think differently. I think some people had a hard time grasping this, and that was somewhat frustrating.  It’s one of the basic tenets of evolution. Those that have mutations and can adapt do the best during environmental change. Same with companies. If you all think alike, and the environment changes, can you adapt? Can a hardware company become an internet company? Can a photo developer become a digital camera store? The reason diversity is so important, is that it’s very, very hard to tell what skills are going to be required, so you want to make sure you have people with all sorts of different skill-sets and points of view. And the trick of HR is going to be to fight against that ASA model and figure out how to attract, select and retain people who don’t fit.

Really interesting stuff, and a little eye-opening on a personal level. Not that this is groundbreaking stuff, but it just kind of hit home how important adaptability is. I have no doubt that it has helped me in my own career path, but thinking back – I have always been drawn to jobs where just being really good at one thing would be useless. Any successful archaeologist needs to be a historian, park ranger, interviewer, grant-writer, meterologist and any other number of hats.  The world is always changing, and those who refuse to acknowledge that or bend are going to be the proverbial dodos.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2009 12:48 am

    Will there be a lesson on how to tactfully coerce the creepy ones into quitting?

  2. September 16, 2009 12:31 pm

    Congrats on getting through your first night of grad school. I just finished this summer & am so glad I did it.

  3. September 19, 2009 11:26 pm

    Whhhoooohoooo grad school!

    My advice: figure otu a way to store all your papers and assignments so they are searchable. You’ll be amazed how much you write can be incorporated into later papers…

  4. April permalink
    October 6, 2009 10:44 pm

    i liked this… I think i am goign to very much enjoy your class notes! I have an interesting work background, i think anyway, and this post triggered lots of thoughts. I’ll have to get them together and probably post about it..or at least share them with you…..see what you think.


  1. A Year In Review — You Should Only Know
  2. When quitting is actually turning the corner. — You Should Only Know

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