Be Easy to Work With
What do Cam Newton, Bryce Harper, and Russell Westbrook have in common?
All are supremely talented athletes with skills that have enabled them to compete at the highest level in their respective sports. Their raw talent and ability to rise to the occasion in seemingly the most intense situations have provided them the opportunity to reach a status very few athletes can ever get to.
They also possess characteristics that make them high maintenance and extremely difficult to work alongside. They have had behavioral issues with teammates, challenges with management, and outbursts that have caused their teams to suffer. Rather than lifting others up and bringing the best out of fellow players, they drag the team down and cause problems wherever they go. Opposite of a talent multiplier, they are toxic to their environment, with their supreme skills being the only reason their antics are accepted.
They will continue to have successful careers, but they will always be in the middle of controversy while jumping from organization to organization. This will likely prevent any of them from ever winning a championship. Instead, they will be in a constant state of chaos. You may be one to provide excuses for these players (and others like them), but the truth is, they lack the self-awareness necessary to acknowledge they are hurting themselves, the players around them, and their organization.
For employees who have these types of characteristics, you will be overlooked, not included, and habitually left out. In this day and age, the secret to success isn’t having the most talent, being the most intelligent, or having the best title; it is about having a quality work ethic, being able to work well with others, and blending your skills with the skills of those around you. Talent has the potential to take you to the top, but it is the content of your character that will ultimately enable you to succeed. And in a world filled with amazingly capable people, organizations can easily trade out an employee who does not work well with others for an employee who does.4
You may believe this is unfair or unethical, but it actually aligns with every part of life. Do you want to spend time with friends who are easy to deal with and bring out the best in you or individuals who cause you frustrations and create anxiety? Do you go to the restaurant that is always a hassle to get in and has an incompetent staff or a venue with plenty of space and knowledgeable waiters and waitresses? And are you more apt to purchase a Blackberry phone that is clunky and hard to navigate or the latest iPhone/Android that is intuitive and easy to use?
These decisions are easy.
So are the ones that involve what type of colleagues you want to work alongside. There is no question, you are almost always hired for your skills and fired for your behavior. This means your commitment to character must be intact. If you are hard to work with, constantly making projects more difficult than they have to be, and unable to maintain positive relationships in the office, you are at risk.
This is especially true if the value you generate begins to decline. Though not always acknowledged, companies will often put up with self-serving, obnoxious, narcissists if they produce superior results. However, as soon as these problem employees stop delivering exceptional value, they are gone. And it is an easy decision. Conversely, employees who are easy to work with will almost always find a home in an organization, even if their productivity in their current role begins to dip. Quite often, instead of being laid off, they are reassigned to a new role.
Many companies express that employees are the most valuable resource in the organization, but that is only true when employees are performing their role and elevating the productivity of those around them. In order to do this, you must be easy to work with.