Throughout my career, I have seen many scenarios that can hinder a contingent workforce program’s success and often, they are our own behaviors. My previous CWS 3.0 articles have covered the importance of being willing to say “no” and the silent assassins living in your adoption plans. In this third installment, I discuss the human brain’s tendency to hear what it wants to hear and to see what it wants to see — and disregard the rest, as the Paul Simon tune goes.

This natural tendency can wreak havoc on a program, such as during the selection process of your future MSP provider, where the tendency is to look for reasons to substantiate or confirm a bidder’s proposal and its suitability to be a strategic business partner going forward. Overcoming this natural inclination requires proactively encouraging our brains and our fellow evaluators to look at things differently — and from a different perspective.

Have you ever been missing something — car keys, perhaps — and searched for hours, only to find them on the table you had looked on several occasions?

The explanation is simple: You have programmed your brain to believe that the keys are lost, so when you stare right at them, when the photons of light emitted from those keys enter your eyes and the electrical impulses are sent to your brain, your brain refuses to accept the resulting image, because as far as it’s been told, the keys are lost. It’s as if the brain is saying to itself, “… if the keys are lost, then I can not possibly be seeing them!” It adapts, in this scenario, to overlook what you have inadvertently conditioned it not to see.

Counteracting this natural tendency requires consciously thinking about things a different way. Think about a time when you come to interview someone face-to-face. This person is in front of you because you liked what you have read in his or her CV and online profiles and you liked what you have heard, especially if you have spoken with one another on the phone as part of a pre-screen. The brain’s natural tendency would be to reinforce these good feelings and a possible decision to hire.

My strategy to overcome this is to seek out reasons not to hire, and the best candidates will be able to overcome any obstacles and win me over. And this is something that program managers should do in the RFP cycle: identify reasons not to appoint the provider you are reviewing. This strategy does not have to result in their exclusion from your consideration; rather, it focuses the conversation on proactively addressing possible future challenges. Ultimately, this approach may actually result in a more compelling business case to appoint that provider that is able to overcome the “reasons not to appoint.”

So, create an atmosphere of trust among your bidders and potential partners, and celebrate when they are comfortable enough to tell you what you need to know and not what they think you want to hear. While at first it may appear that some of the more open/direct communications are possible reasons remove the provider from the process, there may actually be a stark reality behind the messages that, if overcome, will make for a more seamless, long-lasting program based on far more realistic expectations, mutual understanding and commitment.