Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Here's an article that the recruitment firm Berman Larson Kane emailed me. Berman Larson Kane has been absolutely useless thus far in finding even potential employment for me, but I'm sure they think they make up for it by stuffing my inbox with condescending corporate-world tips. The article proclaims, "AT WORK, IT PAYS TO BE LIKEABLE." As opposed to in your marriage, say, where it pays to be aloof and distant.

Fine, we curmudgeons are pretty much used to this attitude among our more self-satisfied brethren, and it's perfectly understandable. But then, "growing research shows that likable employees may have more success on the job and that likability can even trump competence." Ugh. I get that likeable people are, well, liked more than unlikeable people... but hey, Boss, you're hiring someone to earn money for the company, not to fulfill their duties as senior prom king.

The article cites (well, references) a Harvard Business Review study that found employees don't enjoy working with a disliked colleague — again, that's sort of the definition of "disliked" — and it "almost doesn't matter how skilled they are." First, almost? And second, duh. Bonuses and the like aside, employees' pay has very little correlation to how much they're making for the company, so what do they care if their corporate teammate is good at his job? I sympathize: make your money with as little stress as possible, and we've all seen enough reality TV to know that's a lot easier when you're not surrounded by asshats. Thankfully it's not the employees doing the hiring, because if it were, I'd certainly have my own secretary on the company's dime.

What frustrates me, not just in business but in presidential races too, is that "likeability" is the attribute that we're judged on. How do I make you feel about yourself? It's not, say, "Do I respect you?" or "Do I treat you well?" — my being interpersonally proactive doesn't matter so much as your immediate visceral response. Man, I'd like to sit down and have a beer with you — let's get right on that once you're finished running your failed oil business or your failed baseball franchise or your failed Iraq war into the ground, Mr. President. Tell us about your latest fishing trip cause that'll make up for all the shit we've gotten hiring the friendly guy instead of the competent one.