Why it is important to hire the best people and not just talent

We all know that the big drive in today’s business world is to hire the best “talent’ around. But did you know that it is important to hire the best people as well. Research has shown that your behavior is impacted by the behavior of the people you surround yourself with.

Who you work with is important

I was intrigued by a blog post at Barking Up the Wrong Tree called The Lazy Way to an Awesome Life: 3 Secrets hacked by research. Eric Barker, the author talks about some research that shows we become like those we affiliate with. With families and our friends most of us would agree with this statement, probably even more true for friends than family for some of us.
I thought, however, how much this applies to the workplace as well. In fact Barker has a quote from research conducted in 1999 “Psychologists have observed that bad habits can spread through an office like a contagious disease. Employees tend to mirror the bad behaviors of their co-workers, with factors as diverse as low morale, poor working habits, and theft from the employer all rising based on the negative behavior of peers.”- Greene. I don’t know about you but I have seen this occur in the workplace.

The big question

The big question is how many of you apply this type of knowledge to your hiring practices? How many of you try to determine if the “talent” you are hiring is the type of person you want to be around? Perhaps this is the basis for the current move to “hire for attitude”? Perhaps it should be the basis for your hiring practices. If you have the sort of work group referenced in the quote above you may want to consider it.
The idea of a social network affecting your behavior and your health should play a much greater role in how we do human resources. Nicholas Christakis has a fascinating TED talk on this subject that I think is well worth the time watching. It will change your perspective on the issue of who you affiliate with in your life. You can find it below. Barker’s 3 secrets referenced in his title come from Christakis’ work. They are:

  • Hang out with the people you want to be: Behaviors spread like a virus. Make sure it’s one you want to be infected with.
  • Make more friends. Time spent making friends has a higher happiness ROI than time spent making money.
  • Introduce friends to friends. Friends becoming happy increases your chance of happiness by 45%. Keeping the network happy protects you against unhappiness.

I also highly recommend Eric Barker’s blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Check it out.

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