What is Choice Theory (CT)? CT is a theory of the explanation of human behavior. CT has applicability to both a person’s personal and professional life. It teaches us about our five basic needs, how to meet those needs in a responsible way, and how to take personal responsibility for getting those needs met.
I have assisted many companies with implementing the concepts and principles of Choice Theory (CT) in the workplace over the years. Their reasons ranged from mere curiosity to desiring a total immersion of their company into the concepts and principles of CT. Those companies that were committed to learning the CT model and implementing it correctly received better than expected results.
One of the elements of implementing CT in the workplace is to put the three conditions of quality in place. Those three conditions are:
1. Create a need-satisfying environment for your employees.
a. Employees need to feel connected to each other, management and the mission and vision of your company.
b. Employees need to feel empowered by having their opinions sought out and listened to and having their work respected.
c. Workers need to feel safe on the job. This pertains to their emotional, as well as physical safety.
d. Workers need to have the ability to make choices and exercise some independence within the definition of their jobs.
e. Workers need to experience some fun and learning on the job.
2. Workers must only be asked to do useful and meaningful work. If this is not clear, management must take the time to explain it if quality is what you are seeking.
3. Finally, workers need to be asked to self-evaluate their work. This self-evaluation component is far beyond the scope of this article but suffice it to say that two main components are required for employees to be able to accurately and honestly self-evaluate.
a. There must not be fear in the workplace. If employees believe that management will hurt them with the information shared during self-evaluation, then management can hardly expect honesty.
b. Also, there must be a very clear and definite matrix of what quality looks like. The employee must have an ideal with which to compare their work.
When these components and others are added to the workplace, you can expect:
1. Increased employee satisfaction. Employees will be taught that they have the potential, capability and responsibility to personally get their five basic needs met. This awareness will result in a decrease of a sense of victimization and complaining, because employees will be focused on solutions they can implement instead of the problems that exist.
2. A unified approach to conceptualization of issues. Once all your employees understand CT, they will be conceptualizing problems in the same way. This unified approach will decrease a lot of competition among your employees and will result in the creation of a unified, cohesive and committed group of workers who believe in the direction your company is headed.
3. Room for individuals’ strengths and unique approaches. CT is a framework within which to operate that encourages people’s personal expression. Employees will be able to include their unique and creative talents, as long as they don’t conflict with CT principles.
4. More effective communication. When everyone in your company understands the basic framework for conceptualizing human behavior, then communication is enhanced. There will be fewer misunderstandings because all are speaking the same language.
5. Less employee stress. Many employees experience stress on the job. This usually comes from a lack of understanding about responsibilities. CT assists employees to understand that the only person they can control is themselves. Once people stop expending energy trying to change people or circumstances beyond their control and instead begin to focus on what adaptive response they can take, stress levels dramatically decrease.
6. Decreased employee turnover. When management learns the steps to create a need- satisfying environment for employees, while holding them accountable for their work, employees become dedicated and committed to the work they do. When people are in environments that meet their five basic needs, there is motivation to stay in that environment.
7. Increased creativity. When employees work in an environment created by their employer that allows for self-expression and encourages personal power, limitless creativity is unleashed, which often results in business improvement and expansion.
8. Enhanced relationships. CT teaches people to get their needs met without interfering with others meeting their needs. When this happens, the status of their current personal and professional relationships improves both at work and at home. The possibilities are endless!
9. Improved services to customers. Using CT/RT, employees assist customers to clarify what it is they want and to evaluate the best ways for getting there. Customers appreciate this approach, which will improve customer satisfaction, resulting in repeat business and an increase in referrals.
10. Decreased Resistance/Increased Cooperation. When CT is implemented in the workplace, employees become less resistant and more cooperative because they are being heard. When we stop pushing people in the direction we think is best and focus instead on building better relationships, resistance is decreased and cooperation is increased.