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Create program to communicate new practices informal gathering areas where people can This has big implications for your organiza- throughout your organization. Others will engage in water-cooler-style chats. Con- tion.
Good things happen when people listen to them and embrace important duct all-office get-togethers where people who like each other collaborate—projects change initiatives. One investment banker who was charm- individuals avoid skilled but unpleasant long competed for resources. Provide immediate Apply this three-pronged strategy: as trite or contrived. But their ability to cultivate year.
People listen to for your organization. To get the most from likeable colleagues, so have widely liked them: individuals serve as evangelists for im- portant change initiatives. Avid collaboration, copious turbed, and connecting people from differ- sharing of knowledge and expertise, and ent parts of your business. Some managers deem like- organization. That has big implications for every organization—and not all of them are negative.
But all kinds of work-related encounters organization. Even concert, are needed to carry out a complex ac- in the context of formal structures like cross- tivity. But this variety inevitably leads to frag- functional teams, informal relationships play mentation of the organization into silos of spe- a major role.
We then discuss environment. How do you encourage people from positive ones. How do you see to it that How We Choose Work Partners the value of a cross-functional team is more, When given the choice of whom to work with, not less, than the sum of its parts? Certainly, or- cally placed superior will further their careers. If doing? Obviously, both things ply a bonus.
Less obvious is how much they mat- But despite what such people might say ter—and exactly how they matter. We asked people to indicate tionships—than is commonly acknowledged. For a more-detailed descrip- work with her anyway. Who Is Liked? These archetypes are partners. But why do so many others claim caricatures, of course: Organizations usually— that to be the case?
Still, people in an organization can be products company. In- admit it—maybe not even to themselves. Sometimes, yes. We of people in your own company. Things got a lot more inter- sistance he can provide. We may even shun the esting, though, when people faced the choice jerk simply to deny him the satisfaction of lord- between competent jerks and lovable fools.
And knowledge often requires ex- is an assistant professor of organiza- when it comes to getting a job done, of course planation to be useful—you might, for in- tional behavior at Harvard Business competence trumps likability.
Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks pecially if you are afraid of how this might af- Social psychologists have long known that fect your reputation in his eyes or in the eyes of we like people who are similar to us; people we others to whom he may reveal your limita- are familiar with; people who have reciprocal tions. By contrast, the lovable fool may be positive feelings about us; and people who are more likely to freely share whatever albeit inherently attractive, either in their appear- modest information or skills he has and, with- ance or their personality—that is, they are con- out any intention of gaining an advantage, siderate, cheerful, generous, and so on.
Each of help others put them to use. Some people are liked pretty much univer- For Better. That we like people who are sally. Who Is Good? In all, we collected data about someone is asked to rate other people. We also like to work with people who seem more than 10, work relationships. We corrected, for instance, for the fact to like us. This can produce a virtuous circle in We conducted multiple studies for that some people are generally very gen- which everyone is more open to new ideas, two reasons.
We took into account the would typically be the case. A similarly positive across different industries, types of orga- fact that people working in the same de- environment can be created if you work with nizations, and national cultures. And we adjusted for the fact cess to her intellectual resources, however work-related interaction.
For de- more enjoyable than usual. One of the greatest drawbacks question or issue about my job, I go to working paper at www. Working with the same old col- boss and your direct counterparts in other divi- leagues can also dampen debate: People may sions whether you like them or not.
First, tackling the task at hand. The required exper- where possible, manufacture liking in critical tise or knowledge may lie elsewhere, in some- relationships. Third, to put it bluntly, One other danger of people working prima- work on the jerks. An experi- may depend on the situation. The answer, per- haps surprisingly, is yes. If you were faced with the need to ac- tions consistently showed that most peo- Promote familiarity. All rights reserved. Familiarity is, in turn, Competent Jerk Lovable Star one of the reasons why physical proximity mostly avoided desperately wanted strongly affects the degree to which people like each other: Research has shown that regu- Competence lar exposure to someone generally increases the comfort and pleasure of interaction.
One involves putting people through an in- You can also design processes that give peo- tense cooperative experience. In a famous exper- ple an opportunity simply to become ac- iment conducted more than 40 years ago by so- quainted and thus make them more comfort- cial psychologist Muzafer Sherif, groups of able with each other.
Initially, they were randomly as- team members aim to capture the expertise of signed to two groups. These were kept separate other colleagues before starting a project, gen- to foster ties within each group, and competitive erally involves some initial interaction—say, a activities were designed to produce animosity cocktail party—the evening before work be- between the two groups.
So he created several. For in- If someone is liked, his than culture- and morale-building exercises. Over with one another, thus making it easier for time, episodes like this decreased hostility and, every little bit of them to share knowledge in the future. Similarities can be cre- of boys who said that they had a best friend in ated where they might not naturally arise.
Such tactics can be mental allegiances, are generally very differ- problematic, however, because novelty and au- ent. But if you create a product management thenticity are critical to their success.
The mo- team that includes both marketers and re- ment they become trite or feel manufactured, searchers, there is a chance their similar iden- they lose their effectiveness. Per- Foster bonding. More commonly, wanted to make contact with someone in an- because of the time they devote to interacting other part of the business or at an alliance with people, they may actually lag slightly be- partner.
But their ability to establish positive that everybody really liked him, and they were working relationships between groups that happy to do him a favor. Position them strategically. Clearly, you Identify them. Such individuals should be put in a posi- tuned to the emotional dimension of work to tion to link people from different parts of the recognize such an individual. Affective hubs also are useful in posi- downs in the technical infrastructure of the tions central to the diffusion of new ideas.
Sometimes it can be company. How do you se- user community in the company had prob- lect participants? Do you chose managers? Because she was liked by everyone, she Star performers? Work on the Jerk The result? What can you do increasingly common degree evaluation, with such people? The individual pleasant someone is to deal with.
A more sys- performance of the competent jerk is great. Take the case of an invest- the structure of the network formed by those ment bank that hired an extraordinary rain- relationships. Even when affective hubs market the bank wanted to enter.
When told about the concept of af- leagues. What, then, to do about it? If the contributions of the competent jerk spread access to their expertise.
When People Would Rather Work with Competent Jerks Than Likable Fools
That has big implications for every organization—and not all of them are negative. When looking for help with a task at work, people turn to those best able to do the job. New research shows that work partners tend to be chosen not for ability but for likability. Of course, everybody wants to work with the lovable star, and nobody wants to work with the incompetent jerk.
Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks
You can fill a room with studies on leadership that hail the importance of being a likable, honest, caring, and modest boss. When people have a chance to choose whom to work with, and their own success depends in part on those people, a new study finds that cold competence becomes more important and likability less so. When money is on the line, in other words, most people would rather work for a very competent jerk than a nice but less competent boss. But if you look at actual leaders, that describes nobody running either a company or the government. The participants were asked to imagine that they were investment bankers who had to decide between four competing job applicants. In a separate study, Stanford students were put into what they thought was a real-life situation.
When looking for help with a task at work, people turn to those best able to do the job. New research shows that work partners tend to be chosen not for ability but for likability. Drawing from their study encompassing 10, work relationships in five organizations, the authors have classified work partners into four archetypes: the competent jerk, who knows a lot but is unpleasant; the lovable fool, who doesn't know much but is a delight; the lovable star, who's both smart and likable; and the incompetent jerk, who.. Of course, everybody wants to work with the lovable star, and nobody wants to work with the incompetent jerk. More interesting is that people prefer the lovable fool over the competent jerk. That has big implications for every organization, as both of these types often represent missed opportunities.