Whether we are aware of it or not, the “likability quotient” often enters into our work relationships. You know what that’s about…how likable someone is and how that impacts how you relate to them socially or professionally. The big question is whether the likable candidate is hired more easily, or if the likable employee is more valued than the competent one. Turns out, s/he is.
A well-known study appeared some time ago in the Harvard Business Review titled, “Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools and the Formation of Social Networks.” It showed that personal feelings between employees and coworkers play a key role in work relationships. According to the study, four workplace personality types were identified in the researcher’s report: Lovable Star, Lovable Fool, Competent Jerk and Incompetent Jerk. It’s a no brainer that employers want Lovable Stars and do not want Incompetent Jerks, but what was interesting is the stand on the middle two personalities. According to the research, the report indicated, “Faced with a choice between a Competent Jerk and a Lovable Fool as a work partner, people usually opt for likability over ability.” The Lovable Fool, while frustrating when it comes to job skills, is more tolerable because people like him or her and would rather deal with the individual’s overall likability, rather than the obnoxious behavior of the know-it-all coworker. Unfortunately, most Competent Jerks aren’t aware of their behavior and are largely driven by the need to succeed, compete or prove their worth.
Likability does come into play if you are seeking employment. If you are job hunting, your goal is to appear to the interviewer as technically capable of doing the job, but pleasant and friendly enough for others to want to work with you. Find the balance between showcasing your skills without being cocky or condescending. If you are currently employed, think about how you relate and interact with your coworkers. Do you have friends on the job, do people actively seek your opinion or stop to exchange pleasantries in the break room? Likability is more apt to help get you promoted and help with career advancement. This may be because likability is equated with relationship building and good people skills –– essentials to most business environments and any situation requiring teamwork.
It turns out businesses have a likeability quotient too. Employers need to remember this when they are hiring. Likeability can sometimes be equated with user experience. How hard was it to apply, how difficult did the interviewing process seem? How was the candidate treated during the process? Thumbs up or thumbs down – it’s all part of our current culture.
Being likable sounds easy, but it’s not always and it’s worse when you are trying to be likable and it isn’t genuine. Likability is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself whether you are job seeking or seeking to hire. It can be learned, honed, developed and refined by people, as well as employer brands. Likability creates an environment that is often more collaborative with a greater willingness to trust, help and communicate with each other – not a bad way to spend a 40 hour work week.Try it, you might like it.