September 16, 2013 – MANILA, Philippines – Interviewing is an art, not a science. And, like any seasoned interviewer, I have had my share of surprises — someone who impresses you to no end in the interview, getting everything right. And then, after hiring, well, they simply are nothing short of disappointing. You wonder, “What happened to that amazing person I interviewed?”
Well, as they say, “Talk is cheap,” and what matters is not what someone says, but what they do. It’s actions that matter. And, actions in personal life are a good indicator of the actions you will see in a business context. One part of our life can indeed be projected to another.
Over the years, I have seen five personal behaviors that suggest an underlying character I would not want on my team. Call it unfair. Call it generalization. Call it what you want. But it’s reality. How we behave in our personal lives can and does indicate how we would behave in business. And in my experience, there is no room for the following five behaviors and what they project to:
Someone who mistreats household staff: The name of the game in business is leadership. Being able to work with, and to inspire, people at all levels in the organization, from the department heads to those who sweep the floors. When an individual abuses a maid or yaya, it sends a signal. A belief that one is “better than” someone else. That another person’s feelings as a human being don’t matter. That lording over someone else and abusing power is okay. Conversely, true leaders are inclusive and get the best out of every team member. They inspire and imbue in people an intrinsic desire to work hard. They engage and energize people, not threaten or demean them. They operate with humility and a willingness to serve others.
Someone who bounces checks: It’s simple. Everyone in a business organization has to manage a budget, control costs and spend company money prudently. The most important money in a person’s life is their own money. So it raises the question, if you can’t spend your own money wisely, and you can’t balance a checkbook with P50,000 in it, why would I entrust you with my money and a P10 million budget?
Someone who leaves typos in a personal résumé/CV: A résumé is an individual’s advertisement. It represents someone when they can’t be present in person. It is a calling card to opening new doors! By being sloppy and careless with this important representative, it sends an indelible signal this person will be sloppy and careless with important components of my business. Will my ads in the newspaper have typos, hurting my brand? Will my packaging be off standards? Will we end up selling substandard product quality? It’s a long list of worries. If an individual can’t take the time to ensure their résumé is right, I doubt they will show the follow-through to execute business plans with perfection!
Someone who rides an elevator up or down for one to two floors of travel: Can a person be lazier? I work in a building with a call center as a tenant. I have never seen such a lazy group of young people. They will stand and wait five minutes to stop an elevator and ride down one floor! It’s sad. I would not hire a single one of them. It goes far beyond laziness, which is purely a symptom. It is disrespectful. It disrespects the other people in the building who have a legitimate need to travel up or down 12 floors; it is disrespectful to conserving energy in a world with dwindling resources; it disrespects their employer by abusing time and waiting five minutes to ride an elevator when they could walk one flight of stairs in 20 seconds. And it is certainly disrespecting personal health, when we are in the midst of an obesity crisis. My response: Get off your (large) rear end and take the stairs!
Someone who cheats on a golf score or marathon time: The late Mark McCormack, founder of IMG group, once said, “I can learn all I need to know about someone after playing one round of golf with them.” I have to say I tend to agree. Golf is a game of honor. It is played among friends and colleagues. If you cheat at golf, what will you not cheat at? It’s a legitimate question.
A few years ago, I played a round of golf with some out-of-town visitors. One of the guys we played with was all over the course and would often be separated from the rest of us. When I would take the time to watch him, you could see him taking many “duffer” shots, where the ball would advance only a few meters. I recall even counting once on a par four and he was at eight shots just to get on the green.
Each time we would finish a hole and call out, “Scores?” he would reply by lying and taking two, three or four shots off! It was very irritating.
A year or so later, that same individual suddenly had to leave his job, and when the facts came out, it was due to ethical issues and he was forced to resign. I wasn’t surprised at all. If you push the ethics in one part of life, you’ll push them in business.
Marathoning is no different. When US vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan was caught during the 2012 campaign fibbing about his first marathon time — fudging the time by over one hour — there was outrage in running circles and Facebook pages set up to expose him. I don’t blame them. He tried to pass it off as “I was confused” but regardless, it doesn’t hold water. Any marathoner will tell you that your first is like your first kiss — you don’t forget it! I personally ran my first marathon in 1982 and I can recall not only every step during the 42.2 kms. but my time down to the second!
If he really forgot something like this, well then, this suggests an intellectual capability issue. If he was lying about his time to try to appear more of a superman than he really is, this makes him dishonest. Whether it is dishonesty or intellectual shortcomings, neither is fit to be number two in the US government.
So there you have it. Controversial but true. How we behave in life predicates how we will behave in business. Business is, after all, just a microcosm of life.
So the next time you have the urge to make a public example of your yaya, just step back and think about it. Recognize how it reflects the kind of person you are. And, who just may be in the audience watching you.