It is a theory that we all seek to "hold our attitudes and beliefs in harmony and balance" and when conflicts arise, we seek to restore our sense of harmony by reducing or eliminating the dissonant. The idea that spawned the theory is that we humans want "cognitive consistency" in our beliefs -- to believe what we believe, in other words -- and that need can lead to irrational and sometimes destructive behaviors.
This pop-psychology lesson is prompted by an interesting week in the pursuit of cognitive consistency in employee-related matters. It was a somewhat futile pursuit:
- An employer who has bemoaned the quality of applicants for open positions, but who continues to seek candidates from the same talent pool using the same recruiting tools.
- Employees who decry micromanagement, but won't follow simple procedures and checklists designed to make their jobs safer and more productive.
- A CEO who was surprised when a senior staffer left after being passed over for a promotion, but who refused to discuss with the employee why they weren't being considered for the post.