When being nice isn’t good enough

There was a time and place when a handshake and a man’s word were enough to seal a deal and ensure commitment.  This was also a time when a good haircut and a clean-pressed shirt were all the recommendations that you needed to get your foot in the door.

For better and for worse, things have changed drastically.

Now, it’s not enough that you should already be able to do the job at a high level (although you will get lower-level pay), but you also need to be professional, likable, malleable, infallible, and all sorts of other “ble”s.

In short, recruiters are screening based on meeting technical requirements, but short-listing and hiring based on organizational fit.

Some argue that this is not much better than a reality game show judge panel.  Subjective. Personal. And potentially irrational.

I’m not going to write about whether I think that hiring for organizational is a good idea (although I think it is), but what I want to touch on is what organizational fit is not.

Some people feel that this means you are adaptable, flexible, and tolerant of any and all environments.  That you are able to morph into whatever your employer needs you to be.  That you get along with everyone.

No so.

If your work environment is fast-paced, cut-throat, antagonistic, and stressful,  you shouldn’t have to morph.  You have to already be built to work in a place like this. Being nice isn’t going to cut it.

Allow me to digress.  My daughter recently ended a relationship with a really nice guy.  Nothing happened.  No drama.  And I really felt for this guy.  I didn’t really know him well, but he seemed decent, polite, amenable…did and said all the right things.  He was a nice guy, but his biggest flaw was liking my daughter more than she liked him.

And I’ve been in this boat with employees.  They are good, decent, hard-working, flexible, employees.  They are nice people, but they aren’t living up to what is expected of them.  It’s sad to see personal collide with business, but we know where this generally ends up.  And invariably an employee will come up after the dust settles and say, “but he/ she was such a nice guy…”

But sometimes being nice isn’t enough.

Sure it might get you in the door, but it won’t always keep you in the seat.


4 thoughts on “When being nice isn’t good enough

  1. Another – how do you do it? – excellent write dispelling another workplace myth: nice is not enough. A truly wonderful read my friend. That little vacation did you a world of good… Welcome back.

  2. Pingback: Best Blogs 16 Aug 2013 | ChristopherinHR

  3. Pingback: Best of the HR Blogs August 2013: The HR bloggers' choice! | XpertHR - Employment Intelligence

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