I was recently talking to a friend I've worked with in the past. I call him a friend, not a co-worker, because that's what he is. We respect and like each other a lot, and did so when we worked together.

On this particular day, we were discussing the personal styles of people we used to work with, and found it an interesting topic of discussion. It got down to the real difference between these two personalities:

Can You BE Nice?

We used to have a VP who seemingly had over-and-above the skill level for what we needed. To our faces, he could be the nicest, most fun-loving person, and his team seemingly liked him. He was the life of the party, but in the end, it was all a lie. We ended up finding out the hard way that he berated his people and he berated vendors, which left a bad taste for any vendor to want to deal with us. He delayed bad news and lied to management, he lashed out at his team and anyone around him. Great people were afraid to speak up, so instead they just left.

We, his managers, just found out too late to save some great people who left as a result.

He could BE nice. He could be the nicest guy in the room. Was he nice? No way.

Are You Nice?

Then we moved on to discussing another woman whom we hired because we liked her. She didn't have the direct experience we needed, but we knew we could definitely teach her. She was motivated, and we knew that people around her would like working with her.

Turns out she was extremely pleasant to work with, and her team loved her because she fostered them, listened to them, and helped them overcome their hurdles. Management liked her because when she had bad news, she delivered it with recommendations on what to do about it. When she was visibly frustrated, it was only because she didn't have the power to move the company along fast enough.

She IS nice.

There are a hundred articles that have been written about hiring attitude over aptitude. Lesson learned: Hire first for nice, second for aptitude.

Published on: May 21, 2015
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