HR Strange But True!
March 09, 2006

A Harvard Business School study has found that employees would prefer to work with a "lovable fool" than a "competent jerk," the Washington Post reports.

The study, which included managers and regular employees, defined the lovable fool as a worker who knows little but whom employees like having around and the incompetent jerk as someone who knows a lot but with whom employees find no pleasure in working.

The researchers found that while study subjects said competence is more important than likeability, the opposite was true in practice when employees engage in informal work-related interactions, the newspaper notes.

"We found that if someone is strongly disliked, it's almost irrelevant whether or not she is competent; people won't want to work with her anyway," says the study's authors, Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo. "By contrast, if someone is liked, his colleagues will seek out every little bit of competence he has to offer."

The authors of the study found two other archetypes of the workplaces they studied: the lovable star (with whom everybody wants to work) and the incompetent jerk (with whom nobody wants to work).

"All of us don't want to admit that likability is a factor, especially when it comes to hiring," says Lucy Cherkasets, the human resources director with LaForce & Stevens. "We always look at candidates' qualifications, but at the end of the day, you have two top candidates, and they are neck in neck, the decision turns into who would you like to work with."

Source: Washington Post

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