Genevieve Dariuax, the French authority on ‘the art of elegance’ offers a single piece of advice for men when entertaining a woman.
"He should never talk too loudly in public, even if he is highly successful; and he should be adept at making the imperceptible international gesture that calls for a restaurant bill, which he should pay discretely".
Thankfully, times have moved on and the power dynamic has changed dramatically since the 50’s. USA Today recently reported that finally women are at least as educated as the male in the household, and pay parity is getting closer - at least for the Millenials, with US women between 24 and 35 getting 93 cents to every dollar earned by males of a similar age.
The 50’s gender power dynamic can be paralleled to many well-established HR management practices, which reflect the underlying premise that the organization is the stronger player, because it foots the bill (i.e. pays the wages).
Therefore, the old-school organization feels no qualms at dictating the terms of employment: Where and when the employee will work, exactly what responsibilities the employee will carry out, and benefit packages.
It seems that many organizations persist in conducting their negotiations based on these assumptions, despite the fact that this is no longer an accurate reflection of current labour market reality (aside from being decidedly passé).
The old-school organization also has a ‘take it or leave it’ approach, whereby employees feel subtly pressured to adapt to the needs of the organization because they feel that to do otherwise might compromise their career opportunities.
While this might be a good way to manage wallflower employees, who perhaps don’t have so many options on the cards, your best-performing employees are unlikely to appreciate such a heavy-handed approach. Don’t be surprised if your hottest talent responds that, no, they are unable to take on those extra clients as you demanded because they have a rendezvous with a sensitive new employer who actually listens to them and cares about their career development and future.
In short, global changes in the labor market are making the attraction and retention of talented individuals a key strategic challenge at all organizational levels. This shift in the power dynamics has changed employment relations on a fundamental level.
Nowadays, effective talent management is likely to require a long hard look in the mirror and a re-evaluation of HR strategies currently in place.
To signal a change in mindset to employees, effective talent managers are adopting a lattice approach (in which contracts are negotiated on flexible individualized terms), and incorporating formal career discussions at all levels of the organization.
Unless you want to be stuck with an empty seat as well as the bill, you’d be wise to start rethinking your talent relationships now.