Insights

A fresh take on ideas and trends in Human Capital

The Perception of Biscuits

I’m a psychologist. To some that is just a statement about my profession but to a lot of peopl

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I’m a psychologist. To some that is just a statement about my profession but to a lot of people that can sometimes be an invitation to share their opinion, psychology after all is at its very least an interesting topic. At university when I said I studied psychology I would receive responses that varied from “are you reading my mind” to “well that’s not a real subject though”. It seems that psychology is always a spark that sets off people’s opinions that vary to a surprising degree and that as a psychologist is what interests me. It’s the perception held by people that makes me love psychology so much, there are 7 billion people on this planet and 7 billion views of the world.

Take for example the humble chochy biscuit, which side is the top? Is it the chocolate side or the biscuit side? I always maintained that it was the chocolate side but then someone pointed out to me after 22 years of living that the writing (on the biscuit) would be on the top and that means you taste the chocolate on your tongue first. My mind was blown, I had never seen it from that point of view before and while I might not agree I welcomed the alternative viewpoint. This is what makes people people, how is it possible that someone’s favourite movie is Titanic and someone else thinks it’s terrible? It’s the perception and the development of that perception throughout life that forms this.

Now understanding this can lead to something brilliant, primarily in innovation. At one point someone came along and saw everyone rewinding the video and went why don’t you just use a DVD instead? These kind of innovations kick start amazing revolutions in behaviour and perception that benefit every aspect of our lives today with clear examples like the iPhone and digital music.

The problem with trying to achieve a perception change is that ignorance is bliss. This is a challenge for two reasons; first being that it is very difficult to target and change something you’re not aware of and the other being that changing perception shatters a world perception someone has and that can lead to fear and resistance. These challenges happen to be some of the most difficult obstacles in the HR world when coordinating employees.

Employees come into organisations with something set in their mind but almost all of them will say their perception of their role changes after a few months. This is an example of this perception change that can cause fear and resistance for an employee if not handled correctly. Furthermore if an employee doesn’t realise they have an issue, or doesn’t believe the people that tell them then there is next to no chance they’ll make a behaviour change. Luckily there are several HR solutions to accommodate for these transitions. An example of this is McDonald’s recognising the negative stereotype their employees had and targeting it with the McJobs campaign.

HR Technology can also offer these solutions and can target the issues accompanied with perception change very effectively. Psychometrics can analyse a person’s behaviour, motivations and thinking to a highly specific detail; when this is done right it uses rigorous scientific methods that produces robust results. This makes information clearer to an individual that may be unaware of these aspects, psychometrics take away the subjectivity of perception and can ground people by giving them a perception of themselves that isn’t filtered through the subjectivity of someone else. The other benefit of using this HR technology is that is has no agenda except to develop the individual, used correctly by a HR team these technologies will only seek to help the individual. Helping this individual might mean that it identifies they’re in a career they’re not motivated for or that they require training needs and that individual knows that it isn’t someone being bitter about their performance. By making the employee development as objective as possible it can open the eyes of employees and see their world from another angle. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean or require change sometimes simply having a different angle on the world is enough. Incidentally I still eat the biscuit with the chocolate on top.

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