Monday 31 March 2014

Don't Be A Jerk

In 2006, Joel Spolsky wrote a revealing blog post about how his company FogBugz hired staff. There were a lot of great insights about having strong firing policies to match your hiring policies.

He talked about technical skill and all sorts of stuff but the one thing that stuck with me was one line that reinforced my view of the world and myself: " Even before we started the company, we realized that we should add a third rule: 'Not a jerk.' "

I have worked with thousands of people now as a contractor, consultant and researcher.

Through the years, I have seen people who I would quite willingly call genius. Brilliant beyond what us mere mortals can call smart. Above the intellect of the most intellectual intellectuals. I am not one of them. They are often so aloft when it comes to perception that the rest of us look like ants on the dirt.

The thing is that I have also worked with very smart people. Not someone to be tagged with genius but very smart. Architects. ThoughtWorkers. Just smart people.

Over and over again, I have come to one conclusion when I build teams. I don't want to work with jerks. No matter how smart you are. No matter your skills or your gansta gains, there is nothing that would make me pick a pretty good team player with above average skills over genius who solved everything.

The way I see it, if I have to be stuck on a desert island with you forever building a hut or a raft or cooking the same old fish and bark we have eaten for months then I want to like you.

We are but people. We want to want to be at work if we must. If there are 40 hours of our 112 waking moments then I want to volunteer to be there with others.

Nice people make that possible.

What Joel was saying in his vast wisdom is that you have to choose good people but they have to be good people. I'd forgo your brilliance for someone who can gel with the group. I'd give up that insight for someone who was above good but liked people. And if you don't get that then you shouldn't come work with me.

Mean people are blockers.

Hire good people who get shit done and aren't jerks.

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