As a parent, I was told and believed that parents are the greatest influence on the character and success of our children. And it’s not true. Believing that only served to make me waste time doing things that weren’t effective, and made be feel guilty and ashamed when I failed as a parent, and made me act like a controlling asshole. Best of intentions, poor behaviour, bad results.
Turns out that the greatest influence on a child’s character is not her parents, but rather friends in school and out. So, if we have so little influence, what can we do? Help our children pick their friends? Help them learn how to choose their friends?
A friend of mine shared with me how she taught her son to choose his friends like you would choose your fruit. Pick the ones that are mature and ripe and flavorful. And if you find a rotten one, don’t keep it around.
I believe the same is true of whom we choose to surround ourselves with as adults. Our peers, professional colleagues, and friends are a great influence on us in our day-to-day lives, and the research bears this out. We’re more like to be able to quit smoking, lose weight, or exercise regularly if we choose to spend our time in the company of others who do the same, for example.
I believe the same is true of choosing friends with a positive attitude. Not a Polly-Anna make-believe optimism. A positive attitude that helps us get through the hard times, celebrates our successes, and helps us enjoy life when we can.
I believe the same is true for those we chose to work for or with. If you’re a hiring manager you have a huge influence on the outcome of the success of the company. Hiring the right people may not guarantee success, but hiring the wrong people is a sure-fire way to fail.
Who you choose to hire is the greatest influence on the success of your company. A-players hire and are attracted to other A players. A-players will not tolerate working for or with B and C-players for very long. They have a choice, even in a recession, of where to work, and they will take it.
B-players hire C-players because they do not want to feel threatened. B and C-players cost the company not only in terms of lost productivity, but also lost opportunities, demoralized staff, dissatisfied customers, and the extra effort it takes to manage them. They infect everything they touch. The cost of hiring the wrong person is five times their salary and up. They are literally a rotten apple that will turn an entire barrel of apples into a stinking, rotting mess.
Most people leave a job because of their boss, or because their boss tolerates poor performance in others. Not because of money. Even though that’s what they tell you. (Except maybe in Alberta and Saskatchewan because of our weird oil and gas economics, and I believe that’s about to come to an end.) So C-player supervisors and managers drive A players out of the company.
Personally I like Robert I. Sutton’s “no asshole rule“. I found it delightful that simply by telling candidates in the hiring interview that, “By the way, if you’re an asshole, I’ll fire you.”, had the effect of screening out a majority of abusive behaviour from the first day. Some candidates, after being confronted with such a clear boundary around expected behaviour, simply didn’t take the offer. Which I imagine was just fine by Mr. Sutton.