We’ve heard for some time now the idea that new employees should “fit in.” They should be able to fit in with the company culture and even the company’s way of doing things.
That’s a fair approach to hiring new people, right? You want your existing staff to feel comfortable with new staff coming on and you want the new person to feel comfortable as well.
With potential top producers, this may be a bit more complicated.
First, let’s look at a definition of the phrase “fit in:”
“Be socially compatible with other members of a group.”
Synonyms for the phrase are:
“Conform, be in harmony, blend in, be in line, be assimilated into.”
A few of those synonyms are something to think about, aren’t they?
“Conform, be in line, be assimilated into.”
But we’ll stay with just the definition for now. What if your applicant may not be someone who will be socially compatible with your existing staff but she is a proven powerhouse producer and could come in and dramatically improve your bottom line?
These individuals are out there. They are top producers, but they do not necessarily get along well with others.
Please note that I did not say all top producers do not get along well with others. But we do run into the very productive individual who is known to rub their fellow staff the wrong way.
Ideally, your potential powerhouse producer will come in and get along with everyone. Ideally.
But you’ve checked with previous employers about this applicant and she indeed was a fabulous producer but she did not treat other staff very well. Eventually, that became the reason to let her go.
Now, I realize I’m giving you a fairly black and white scenario here: amazing producer / horrible team member. But let’s use this scenario to consider a possible approach. A very direct approach.
Present your dilemma to the applicant.
“Mary, I have a dilemma. After speaking with a couple of your previous employers, I’ve learned you are a superb producer. That you get a ton of things done, usually more than you’re asked to do, and that this made you a great asset to their company. I also learned you didn’t get along well with other staff. Are these fair observations?”
We’re hoping that Mary is self-aware enough to simply say, “yes, they are both fair observations.”
“Okay, Mary, thank you for being candid. Well, I’d like to get your help in solving this dilemma. I’d like to hire you, but I’m also interested in having a somewhat harmonious work environment. I’m not talking about everyone getting together for regular weekend barbecues, but I think you know what I mean.
(get some sign of agreement on this)
“So, Mary, what specifically could you do that would help you and your fellow employees get along?”
You’ve presented the problem directly to Mary. She’s agreed that there is a problem, and she’s being asked directly for how SHE can solve the problem.
The answers Mary gives you here should help you immensely in which way to go.
If she’s weak on personal responsibility and shifts too much of the blame on others, not a great sign.
If she gives you some specific ways SHE can make life in your workplace very livable for everyone, that’s a great sign.
You could also tell Mary you’ll hire her on a conditional basis and that you’re really looking forward to her being productive and her getting along well with your staff.
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