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By veronica.combs ·
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Likable fools or competent jerks?

by veronica.combs In reply to Better Business Blogging

I borrowed a copy of June's Harvard Business Review to read about
social networks at work. A study of four businesses showed that there
are four main types of people in these networks:<br />
<br />
Competent jerks<br />
Incompetent jerks  <br />
Likable fools<br />
Friendly stars<br />
<br />
The article includes one of those ever present quad diagrams (a
business article/theory is not complete without one) with competency on
the vertical axis and likablity on the horizontal axis. Curiously (or
mabye not), in the illustration, the figures in three of the quadrants
are men, the only woman is in the friendly star quadrant.<br />
<br />
The main conclusion of the study is that people will pick likable fools
over competent jerks when they're choosing someone to work with.
Everyone <em>says</em> that they value skill over personality, but their actions belie that statement.<br />
It's actually a really interesting article with specific advice on how
to get the most out of stars and competent jerks and how to work with
the bias of working with friendly people over competent people. Use the
friendly people as bridges between departments was one good suggestion.<br />
<br />
I know I thought of a couple competent jerks that I have trouble
working with as I read the article. One reason the researchers found
that co-workers avoid these people is that the jerks might react in a
condescending way to questions or use their knowledge to humiliate the
questioner. I find that I push myself to work with some jerks because I
value their knowledge and want to benefit from it. It is extra work,
though, no doubt, but it does help me develop a thick skin.<br />

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Likable fools or competent jerks?

by Beth Blakely In reply to Likable fools or competen ...

<p>Very interesting. Perhaps you could share some of the tactics you use to make working with "jerks" less painful? Have you developed ways to respond to condescension that have changed the "jerk's" behavior in any way? Have you found that as you assert yourself with these "jerks" they become less abrasive?</p>

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Carrots not bullets

by veronica.combs In reply to Better Business Blogging

One colleague's contribution to an e-mail debate about whether to use
carrots or bullets on the redesign of a directory page:<br />
<br /><em>
Carrots are healthy in a way that bullets are not.</em><br />

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The dreaded "I was told"

by veronica.combs In reply to Better Business Blogging

When i'm in a meeting and someone says, "I was told....." I cringe.
This is always a bad sign for whatever it is the meeting is about. This
phrase can mean a couple things, neither of which is good:<br />
<ol>
<li>The "but" version: "I was told this BUT I think it's wrong." The
person never completes the sentence that way, BUT the implication is
clear. </li>
<li>The "don't care" version: "I was told this AND that's all I
know." This is possibly the more discouraging version, as it shows the
person is not following through or engaging with the project.</li>
</ol>
With #1, the person speaking won't/can't clearly state her distrust of
the information she is passing on, even though she is perpetuating it
by doing so. Maybe it's the boss' pet theory or the latest trend in the
industry or the conceit that everyone has agreed not to question. Ick.
This version usually indicates a management and communication problem. <br />
<br />
With #2, this is an employee problem. Why hasn't the person followed
up? Laziness? Lack of interest? Too many other projects with higher
priorities? Or maybe this one is related to #1 and the person has not
gone any farther with the project because it's a dumb idea. Inaction is
a form of protest.<br />
<br />

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How could he not be an expert?

by veronica.combs In reply to Better Business Blogging

I was listening to an <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4865342">interview with a guy from FEMA</a>
this morning on the way in to work about
the official response before and after Rita.<br />
The interviewer pressed a lot harder than usual, trying to get real
answers out of the guy, and wanted the official's assessment of the Houston evacuation and the gridlock
caused by people trying to leave Houston before the
hurricane.
Scott Wells, the federal coordinating officer for FEMA in Texas, said
that the official response and evacuation were fine.  He said that
the quality of the response depends a lot on the local set
up, saying that they didn't lose communications in Texas like they did
in Louisiana (it really <em>was</em> their fault), and he wouldn't comment on
the gridlock in Houston, "I refuse to second guess. I'm not a school
teacher so I'm not going to grade the evacuation."<br />
The interviewer brought up the Texas governor's statement about the
highways being a potential death trap because of all the people stuck
there and asked if Wells thought the evacuation should have been
handled differently.<br />
"I'm not an expert on evacuation," Wells said.<br />
Wow, that would be like me saying, "I don't know anything about the
Internet, so I can't reply to your question about the quality of
information on the site I'm responsible for."<br />
Maybe this guy also used to manage horse shows before he got his job with FEMA.<br />

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