Your being nice might be the thing that stops your business from shining.
“The Law of Crappy People states: For any title level in a large organization, the talent on that level will eventually converge to the crappiest person with the title. The rationale behind the law is that the other employees in the company with lower titles will naturally benchmark themselves against the crappiest person at the next level. For example, if Jasper is the worst vice president in the company, then all of the directors will benchmark themselves against Jasper and demand promotions as soon as they reach his low level of competency.”
From Ben Horowitz. Although I don’t think I’d be as harsh in my language, I think this is true at so many levels.
First, as he says, people aspiring to that level will never compare themselves to the best or average (whatever that means) in that level. It will always be “but I can do xyz better than Jeff” (Jeff being my Jasper!).
Second, those already at that level will see that you’re willing to put up with Jeff’s performance (or destructive behaviour), and many will wonder why they’re putting in the effort to do better when they could get away with worse.
Third, others at that level will see that you’re willing to put up with Jeff’s performance (or destructive behaviour), but because their personal standards won’t let them stoop that low, will just leave looking for an organisation where the leaders hold the team to a higher standard.
In all ways you lose.
As it is for performance, so it is for culture and the behaviours you’re prepared to tolerate (perhaps because the individual brings in the numbers or is a “star” developer). Here, I turn to Elad Gil from his “High Growth Handbook”.
“Your biggest levers for shaping culture have to do with who you hire, the behaviors you emphasize and reward, and the people you let go.” Elad Gil, High Growth Handbook.
Being nice to your team isn’t tolerating poor performance or bad behaviour. That’s just building a team around mediocrity or bad culture.
Being nice to your team is building a positive culture where great performance is celebrated, and poor performers are directly helped to get better at what they do, or do something else.
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