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Should I hire a high performer with bad attitude? No!

The question often comes up, "candidate x is a hard worker, has talent, and gets things done, however their attitude is outright toxic; should I hire them? Answer: Absolutely not, unless you want a dysfunctional culture where what you tolerate is your culture. Cannot think of much worse than hiring a toxic personality to bring into your culture camp you call the workplace.

Culture fit should be the gateway to hiring; not a nice-to-have window dressing of the candidate. I mean by culture the right values, mores, guiding principles such as hard work ethic, innovative, problem solving, delivers results, personally accountability, pleasant to be around, makes our teams stronger, fun to be with etc -- then I try to hire these people. While Cultural fit is only one attribute of a good hire, it is absolutely the gateway to hiring.

Consider the following hiring formula: where X = the employee candidate, and T = their talent, E = their experience, and C = their cultural fit; there are several combinations of these variables that make great hires, and many others that should never be hired. Let me explain using the chart below from my "Capturing Difference Making Top Talent" Presentation.

What you can observe from the chart is that you can safely only hire two combinations of talent: Rockstars and Apprentices. The Rockstars have strong T + E + C making them star quality additions to your team. The Apprentices also have strong Talent and Culture, however they do not have much experience at this point (so we write them up as: T + e + C, and we seek to hire them and match them up with high performing rockstars in our organization.

As you will see in the chart, there is problem hiring any of the other combinations as they represent lack of Talent and Culture necessary for a great hire.

Consider for a moment this tempting yet deadly combination: they are the culturally deficient 'prima donnas' and worse, some are 'paid saboteurs.' They have strong talent (T) and strong experience (E), yet they are culture deficient (c) and as a result tend to weaken the employer organizations they call home. They frequently fill the employee slots of 'top salesman' and 'top engineer' and they treat everyone around with disregard as they want to be treated special for their delivery skills. One of the troubles with this type of individual is that they frequently give a bad example to other employees: e.g., why do I need to keep the rules, turn my expenses in on time, follow the procedures, as employee A does not keep the rules and he is rewarded as our star performer.

My recommendation when you meet this type of employee is to get them out of your company as soon as possible; and if this is not possible, seek to convert them into 1099-independent contractors working from home, so they do not kill your culture and your company. The prima donnas and paid saboteurs are just too expensive to hold on to; jettison them as soon as you can.

The other forms of employees are shown in the table and can also not be hired as they are not sufficient talented (smart) to help your firm in the long run. Business is filled with change, and in the war for talent you need employees who are bright, smart, even wicked smart -- but not wicked; they must have good judgement, character, and cultural fit to be your employees. To hire anything less than great people is to weaken the strength of your employee chain and your ability to compete in our increasingly competitive market.


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