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Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review: Choice Theory


Originally purchasing this book for inclusion in research it became obvious upon receipt that Choice Theory was not directly related to employment, management, and worker choice. Even though it did contain some references to these useful topics its benefit lay in a greater insight into control dynamics at both work and home. Choice Theory is a book written by Doctor William Glasser and puts within the family, educational, and career context the concept of personal freedom of choice.  Who doesn’t love choice?

The book does create a deeper understanding of workplace relationships if applied appropriately to key management concepts. If we offer more beneficial choices, than edicts or unruly demands, we will be able to foster additional opportunities for employee motivation. Control based management culture destroys motivation and innovation, creates resentment, and encourages a culture of resistance.  As most of us are aware resistance is costly, develops waste within the system, and destroys employee-management relationships. Knowing what we say, how we say it, and why we say it is an important management skill.  When the organization provides a framework for positive choice the likelihood of productive behaviors become more common as the employee has a personal stake in the choices they make.  Do you own the choice if you make it?

Let us see how this may apply in the working world. Employee's make choices all the time whether or not we agree with them. They choose to come into work, choose to work slow, or choose to be productive. Yet even with these choices there are only so many options.  At times employees can even choose to perform so poorly that they rightfully earn discipline. Other times alternative factors outside of their control may be the problem. For example, can we truly blame an employee if they were trained improperly, had poor management, or were given false information? However, positive discipline assumes that the very purpose of the disciplinary process is to curb and document unwanted behavior. There are options to the standard disciplinary process which may include performance improvement processes, training in lieu of discipline, and coaching opportunities. At times it can be beneficial for an employee to make a choice between two options so that they own the result. After implementing options for development they both legally and morally own the disciplinary process thereafter regardless of whether or not they agree. As a manager you have offered options, focused on improvement, and provided additional opportunities for documentation. The employee simple made the choice not to adhere to their employment contract.

The book is easy to read and cleanly written. It is focused in its genre as self-help but the principles could easily apply to managers as well. In its 340 pages it moves from a discussion of human needs to practical application of the theory.  There are plenty of examples provided for those who need to envision how such a theory works in their life.  It should be stated that this theory has some weaknesses as it ignores a number of modern non-choice causes of behavior. However, the majority of the principles apply to healthy employees and individuals. 

Cost: $9-12
Blog Rating: 3 out of 5
Reference:  Glasser, W. (1999). Choice theory, a new psychology of personal freedom. HarperCollins.
Choice Theory Resource:Wikipedia
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